Wednesday, November 17

Is This a Big Week for Mao Asada?

No, Mao Asada won't be competing at the Cup of Russia this week; she is still scheduled for the Trophee Eric Bompard which ends the regular-season Grand Prix circuit next weekend. However, what happens at Cup of Russia could add a tremendous amount of pressure to her already shaky season.. Why is that?

Okay, let's be honest. With a coaching change and an attempt at re-gaining previously lost jump elements, it is going to be a long road back to top form for Asada. But while she has her struggles, we can't forget about the tremendous depth of the ladies in Japan and how they are doing so far this season.

Kanako Murakami has made the step up to the senior level a successful one so far, creating a huge buzz and winning the Skate America gold medal a few days ago. Miki Ando already has a win at the Cup of China, while teammate Akiko Suzuki finished with the silver medal in the same event. Both Ando and Suzuki are back to compete for positions in the Grand Prix Final at the Cup of Russia, and a third place or better for Ando should book her ticket to Beijing, while another silver for Suzuki should also be enough to qualify as long as home-country skaters Ksenia Makarova and Alena Leonova don't spoil the party.

Anyways, enough with the predicting and playing with numbers. The bottom line is that Murakami's spot in the Final is already assured, Ando looks great as long as she doesn't have a severe meltdown, and Suzuki also has a great chance at being there. Three possible Japanese ladies entries in a six-competitor field, and that doesn't include Asada (who has no chance after her eighth-place NHK Trophy finish).

The Japanese ladies earned three entries to the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, thanks in large part to Asada's gold medal win in 2010. If Ando, Murakami, and Suzuki all qualify themselves to the Grand Prix Final, will it put Mao at a disadvantage come the Japanese National Championships? Second, does she dig the hole even deeper with another poor performance at Bompard?

I love the Mao we have seen so far this season, even through all of the mistakes. However, let us remember back to the 2006/2007 season. Fumie Suguri, the World silver medalist at the time, only finished fourth at the Nationals and was left off the World team. I guess the one shining light here is that Asada, Suguri, and Ando all made the Grand Prix Final that year, while Yukari Nakano bested Suguri for the Worlds spot-- so missing the Final isn't the be-all, end-all of her season. However, I really question whether she will be able to pull it together in time if Bompard doesn't go well.



Anonymous said...

I don't believe she'll be ready for TEB, we just want to see her improvement. Anyway, as long as she correct her jumps we can deal with the bad results.
If she thinks now is more important to correct her flip/lutz than to be at Worlds we accept.
Mao is a strong person and she just wants to improve.

Anonymous said...

if she does badly in TEB, then all she has to do is play safe at Japanese nationals. forget 3A, 3-3, and so on. then she'll be fine finishing above at least Murakami and Suzuki with high PCS. they need her at Worlds more than anybody, because she has major sponsors like Ando back in 2005-06.

Anonymous said...

I think Mao should play it safe with 2 loops, 2 toes, 2 axels, and a sal in her long just like carolina. This would almost ensure her a place on the podium at TEB, and when the flip is ready she can put 1 in. I don't think she should have things in her program that aren't consistent yet, and it would be better for her confidence to skate a clean, watered down program and gradually add more difficulty as the season goes on.

aims said...

IMO, Mao probably has no intentions of playing it safe. She will go for those jumps even at TEB despite the risks, and, alas, will probably fail.
I feel that she has already made up her mind that this season is to be devoted to the correcting of her jump techniques no matter what the consequences and costs, and has set goals with a longer time range in mind. Her goal is a gold medal at Sochi, to which she has publicly avowed several times.
Therefore, despite the possibility that she might not even make the Japanese Worlds nor 4CC teams, she will stoically keep at it.
Personally, I've given up that she might be ready anytime soon this season, but look forward to her comeback in the next comming seasons.

trewyn said...

I guess it's an even bigger week for Akiko Suzuki.. After spectacularly winning SA and making the GPF on her first attempt, Kanako Murakami can be pretty sure about her Worlds Team Ticket. Miki Ando has always gotten scores consistent enough to keep the likes of Suzuki, Leonova, Makarova or Wagner off the top spot of the podium, so she's pretty much a lock for the final too. Even though Mao Asada's hopes of making the final are dead, she is still reigning World Champion and reigning Olympic Silver Medalist. I can't imagine the Japanese Fed leaving her home. She's the biggest name they've got and Worlds are in Tokyo.

So things are looking glum for Suzuki? My personal favourite by a mile and I'm worried. She'll need a convincing silver in Russia to get her in the final unless she makes a satement this weekend *and* at the final, she may be the one having to fear for her trip to Tokyo.

Anonymous said...

to be honest, grand prix final is not that important like last year, which JSF gave 1 olympic spot to the highest japanese skater on the podium(it was MIKI). JSF changed the selection rule for this season, which was officialy announced on this april.

because japanese nats is too close to the GPfinal(less than 2weeks),it always having a conflict. as you mentioned, in 2006-2007, yukari won the podium at nats, because she didnt attend the GPfinal.she was the only skater who had enough training time to consentrate for nats. same thing happened to fumie in 2008-2009, this time fumie was not a GPfinalist and got silver at nats. the gpfinalist yukari became 5th and lost the spot to the worlds.(4th was akiko.)last year, mao was not the GPfinalist and won the nats.
to me, became a GPfinalist does not always help your result in japan nats. i know it is very important for akiko,the only person not having the title "jr world champion" and the eldest of all(except fumie). but at the same time i'm worrying for those 3 least,beijing is close to japan,so it maight help them this year a little?

akiko,(yukari),miki,mao and kanako are all nagoya native japan skating field is not that wide but nagoya keeps producing top skaters! poor takahiko,he is the only nagoya native boy!