11:40-12:15 Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Mao Asada, Figure Skater and Sochi Olympian
- Ｐｈｏｔｏ (クリックで拡大）
She brought tears of sadness and joy to her many fans in Japan and abroad. Figure skater Mao Asada, who lost out to South Korean gold medalist Yuna Kim at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, spent the last four years re-inventing her skating style and rode into Sochi with the hopes of the nation on her slim shoulders.
Relentlessly compared to her rival Kim and scrutinized over each triple axel and double toe loop, the 23-year-old two-time world champion seemed to buckle under the pressure last Wednesday.
She performed a disastrous short program in which she fell on one jump and omitted a mandatory combination, explaining afterward that her mind seemed somehow disengaged from her body. She was hopelessly far from a medal. On Thursday, she rebounded spectacularly, returning to the ice with a powerhouse free skate that featured a full range of triple jumps and earning her a career-high score of 142.71 points.
Asada wept with relief as she finished her program and the nation wept with her. She finished an overall sixth, recovering an amazing 10 ranks from where she stood the previous day. Fresh from her journey back from Sochi, this much-loved and inspirational athlete will visit the Club to share how she snatched triumph from the jaws of defeat.