One of my most vivid memories from 2012 World Championships in Nice was Mao Asada going by a group of Japanese journalists at the end of a practice session – and the journalists bending their heads with the utmost respect and admiration, as if a royalty had just passed them. For a second or two, they all seemed suspended in an ethereal atmosphere – as if it were indeed a scene at Japan’s Imperial Court – and Mao herself, the embodiment of beauty and grace. Well, during a press conference held on Monday, the beloved princess of Japanese figure skating announced she resumed training with the intention of coming back to competitive skating. No greater piece of news for her “Court” of loyal fans and for the figure skating admirers all around the globe.
by Florentina Tone
Rumors regarding Mao Asada’s intentions to return to competitive skating have started to spread since middle of last week, along with the news of a press conference in which the 24-year-old Japanese lady would announce her plans – but it was Mao herself who “attacked” the topic, prior to the conference, writing a detailed message on her website:
“Long time no see.
To make a comeback as a competitive skater, I went and asked my coach in March – and resumed working together in May.
During the break [Mao Asada took a year off after 2014 Worlds in Saitama, to consider her future], I came to feel that I could still compete, I naturally started missing the sense of fulfillment and joy I used to have after my best skates in competition. And then I came to wish to come back to the game.
My coach told me it might be possible for me to come back if things go well, but if not, I might not be able to.
Since it’s still halfway through the process, I can’t decisively say I’ll make a comeback at this point. When I make it into good enough shape, I’ll talk to my coach and make an announcement by myself. I’m happy if you have the patience to wait for that day. I’ll do my very best for that and I’m counting on your continuous support. To be able to come back in full form, I’ll work hard during daily trainings.
Today’s conference is intended to be a press conference for «The Ice». Thank you for your understanding”
Later that day, a glowing Mao Asada, wearing a delicate, vaporous dress, confirmed the news, in front of the numerous journalists: she misses skating, misses the emotions – so, yes, she’s training with the intention of coming back to the competitive arena.
“During my break, I gradually began to yearn for the feeling of pleasure and achievement I got after performing well in competition”, she said, according to Reuters. “I had meant for Sochi and the World championships to mark my last year, and after that was over felt I’d done everything I could and didn’t want to skate again. But as the days passed and my time away from skating grew longer, I started to feel that yes, skating is essential for me”.
Resuming training with coach Nobuo Sato earlier this month, Mao Asada is taking it one step at the time – and she clearly doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself at this point. “I’ve just begun practicing again and don’t know what will happen”, she said, quoted by Reuters. And it would be clearly premature to take 2018 PyeongChang into account: “I don’t know if I’ll be able to compete or not, so it’s still much too early to think about the Olympics”, Mao Asada told the journalists.
On the other hand, she seemed to have raised the bar really high: she wants to at least get back to the level she was at the last Worlds Championships. In March 2014, in Saitama, Mao Asada won her third World title, also setting the world record for the short program (78.66 points).
Let’s all wish this wonderful lady good luck.