winter olympics

Triple axel backfires for Asada

50 Comments

Mao Asada's bid to give Japan a second figure skating gold at the Sochi Olympics fell foul to her trademark triple axel jump on Wednesday.

Yuzuru Hanyu won Japan's first men's gold a week ago but Asada's bid for the first Olympic double by a nation in 54 years is over as she sits in 16th position.

The Olympic silver medalist is the only woman to attempt the difficult 3.5-revolution jump in competition, but it is also her Achilles heal.

It backfired on her in the team event short program in Sochi when she fell, and despite persevering, she once again fell on the jump at the start of her routine to Chopin's "Nocturne in E flat major" on Wednesday night.

It threw the two-time world champion and she also doubled a planned triple loop and had no combination jump during her 2-minute, 40-second routine.

The Grand Prix winner looked on in shock as she scored just 55.51 points -- over 20 below her personal best -- to place 16th with the top 24 advancing to Thursday's free skate final.

"The moment after the axel, I knew something wasn't right. I couldn't do what I visualised," said Asada.

"My timing was off. I couldn't move the way I wanted to out there," explained the 23-year-old, whose duel with arch-rival Kim Yu-na headlined the Vancouver Games four years ago.

South Korea's Kim remained on course to defend her Olympic women's figure skating crown, but leads Russia's Adelina Sotnikova and Italy's Carolina Kostner by less than a point.

"I didn't skate anywhere near as well as I could," said Asada. "I don't know what to make of this now. All I can do is give it everything I have tomorrow.

"I couldn't do any of the things I've been working on in training. Once I started the program, I couldn't control my emotions and my body. My only option is to skate the free to the best of my ability."

Her countrywomen didn't fare much better with national champion Akiko Suzuki sitting eighth (60.97) and 19-year-old Kanako Murakami just ahead of Asada (55.60) in 15th.

It is the final Olympics for Asada, who had said she was inspired by countrywoman Midori Ito, the 1992 Olympic silver medalist, and the first woman to land the triple axel in competition.

"Midori Ito has been my idol since childhood," she said. "I wanted to do the same jumps, the triple Axel."

Asada became the first woman to land the triple axel three times at one event in Vancouver.

"There is some risk involved with the axel but I want to do it.I don't consider the triple axel to be a burden at all. It actually gives me something to shoot for and it defines me."

Suzuki, the oldest woman competing at 28 years, popped her opening triple jump combination in her skate to "Hymne a l'amour".

"I did what I could on the ice today. Considering I messed up my opening jump, I thought I made the most of it. I feel so bad about my performance," said Suzuki. "I was having trouble with my jumps in practice and it spilled over into the competition. I was trying too hard."

Murakami was also ruing her missed chances in Ikuko Kawai's "Violin Muse" for which she scored nine points below her season's best.

"I made one mistake which is just gnawing at me. I've been skating clean in the short program but now this. It really annoys me," she said.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

50 Comments
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Absolutely painful to look at that pic, especially when you think of Kim's flawless performance. Unless all of the front runners SEVERELY mess up in the free-skate and the J-women all skate perfectly, I don't see how they can medal in this particular event.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

So, that's why! She failed the axle and got emotional then failed to recover. Ohh, Mao chan. Her emotions is overpowering her performances as usual. She's very talented but her weakness,her heart, is restraining her full potential.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

sorry she doesnt have the mental toughness to win Gold, Kim is a much better overall skater and she proved it.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Asada appears to be well and truly cooked.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I don't want to see Mao Asada fail and hope she can rally herself for one final performance.

That being said, long live the Queen!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Smith, Kim's short program was clean (no falls) but it was far from flawless. According to the LA times, her "lack of any transitional moves into jumps dragged down her score, as did a footwork sequence and layback spin that got reduced base values" However, she did manage her nerves much better than Mao. Best of luck to all in the free program.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Kim's been fantastic lately.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

“The moment after the axel, I knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t do what I visualised,” said Asada.

Yes, she was correct and she was dropped on the floor and it wasn’t right from the beginning.

She does not know about silence achiever story. She should concentrate on her practice instead of talking to media about what she will do it again and what will she do in next. Now it seems to be embarrassing when it didn't happen what she said to media before.

On the Ice floor (rink), it can happen anything. She needs to concentrate on her performance instead of marketing herself.

If she retired after this Olympic as she planned and then she will be remember as loser. She needs to reclaim her dignity with world championship in 2014.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

My wife had the usual variety TV programs playing all morning and she said she saw no mention of Mao's performance, despite all the Olympics coverage. She saw the snowboarder receiving her medal over and over and over. And over.

Kinda reminds me of Stalin's Russia or N. Korea where people deemed flawed are erased from all the pictures, like they never existed.

7 ( +15 / -7 )

Mao's career should not be looked on at just one mistake (which many will do) but her career as a whole. If one looks at her entire career it is a very impressive one.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

That triple axel is one tricky move and her emotions got the best of her when she failed to land it. It doesn't help that it's the first jump in her program as it affects her mental state and consequently the rest of her routine especially if she doesn't execute it properly.

Ganbare, Mao-chan! Just enjoy your final skate and Olympics. Otsukare.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The poor girl just does not seem to be mentally strong enough to handle the pressure. She looked close to tears before, during and after the performance.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I would have thought the pressure wasn't going to be as big an issue as it was in 2010. The spotlight was on Yu Na and the media created rivalry between the Russian and American. Her strength has always been in the FS, hope she can nail the triple tomorrow and at least crack the top ten.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Olympics are about testing one's limits, not about playing safe. Asada fell but she did not fail.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Nothing like a broken axel to stop the figure skating bandwagon from rolling.

Seemingly a lot of Japanese athletes, while technically brilliant, lack the strength of character to achieve their full potential at the highest competitive levels. I think "bottling it" is the correct term.

It's a shame because nursery school children are lively and outgoing; but that's before they have had their self-worth beaten out of them by the educational system.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Kinda reminds me of Stalin's Russia or N. Korea where people deemed flawed are erased from all the pictures, like they never existed.

I'd agree with that Jeff, it's very true about this country.

However, I also like what Mao tried to do. She got up and tried as opposed to Arakawa who was literally handed her gold medal and just did the Ina Bauer over and over which was hardly Olympic level. Mao had guts.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Asada Mao is NHK trophy girl and I seldom expect better from her.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Mao might as well insert an extra triple axel into her free skate (to a total of 2, like she had in Vancouver) since that's the only way she has a chance to catch up and she has nothing else to lose (she's already in 16th place out of 24 finalists, who cares if she falls further down, by that point the placements no longer make a difference).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If Queen Yu-Na makes 1 mistake in the final skate, she may wind up with the silver whilst Adelina Sotnikova, who is only 0.28 of a point behind, gets the gold.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

She must be in a terrible place now, mentally. I hope she learns from this and goes out strong. Now with the chances of a medal gone, she can feel freer and lighter and skate to her full potential.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Serrano: And if she doesn't make a mistake, she'll get the gold, as she did before. Or, but what you don't mention in your whole 'Queen Yu-Na' obsession, if the Russian makes a mistake Yu-Na will clinch it. Goes both ways. As for Mao getting it, next to impossible.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I saw Mao's performance replayed several times this morning on tv(ch4). Her disappointment with herself was very plain to see. Everyone has off days, and this was one of those for her. I think she's charming. I wish her the best.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Shes got the weight of a homogenous uber nationalist nation on her shoulders. That is not good for nerves.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Poor Mao-chan, too much pressure from the media. I wonder how long she'll see that triple in her dreams.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You do the triple axel as often as you possibly can and hope for the best because you have nothing to lose. You might even medal one. Gambare Mao-san.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Choked. All that money spent on her training, and what does she have to show for it?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

serrano:

If Queen Yu-Na makes 1 mistake in the final skate, she may wind up with the silver whilst Adelina Sotnikova, who is only 0.28 of a point behind, gets the gold.

You're really hating the fact that Kim is leading and that Asada has no hope in hell of reaching the podium, aren't you?!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Congratulations to Yuna Kim the 2014 gold medalist in figure skating!

It was a great run Mao but you just weren't good enough, no shame in that.

Perhaps once you are retired you can rekindle a friendship with Yuna outside of the idiot nationalists on both sides.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Serrano: And if she doesn't make a mistake, she'll get the gold, as she did before. Or, but what you don't mention in your whole 'Queen Yu-Na' obsession, if the Russian makes a mistake Yu-Na will clinch it. Goes both ways.

Not necessarily. Yuna will have to be perfect if she wants to get the gold. One of the 9 nine judges gave consistently bad marks to Yuna when the other eight judges consistently marked her high on the exact same movements. Nobody knows which judge it is, and I'm not saying it was the Russian judge, but the world figure skating federation should not have let judges from the home country, judging their own athletes, at home, in front of their own home crowd - to avoid such possible controversies. That's just travesty and the reason why I don't like sports that involve subjective scores. I've not watched a single event at the Olympics, it doesn't interest me.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Mao Asada all you wanted was the Gold medal because you already have a silver. So, it doesn't matter whether in 16th or 2nd. Don't get too much discouraged. Get mad and do your best tomorrow.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Mao seems like a really nice girl wish here all the best for the future.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@ribstick

Choked. All that money spent on her training, and what does she have to show for it?

I guess you have never been an athlete, this young lady has so much pressure on her its very evident! Read what you wrote, you are just one of the many with high expectation of Mao!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I give her credit for attempting the difficult techniques. Nothing to be ashamed of at all.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ JeffLee "My wife had the usual variety TV programs playing all morning and she said she saw no mention of Mao's performance, despite all the Olympics coverage. .... Kinda reminds me of Stalin's Russia or N. Korea where people deemed flawed are erased from all the pictures, like they never existed."

I think you can put that theory away. I also had the TV on all day today (Thursday) switching between NHK general and three commercial stations. I saw the performances of Kim, Asada, Suzuki, Murakami, and the Russian girl, Lip something (sorry I can't remember how to spell it) over and over. It was on every program I saw that mentioned the Olympics at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I feel sorry for Asada Mao. She's doing the best she can, yet she's being hounded by Japanese. Even one of the Japanese Olympic chairman got into it today, saying "Asada Mao always falls at very important crucial times". He also said "she fell on ice looking so good". Disgusting remarks from a person who should be supporting their athlete and cheering her efforts. If she doesn't have the mental strength, that's because her confidence has been eroded by Japanese public and media's unrealistic pressure on her to perform and win all the time or face the nationalistic wrath.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Well, I'm done watching the Olympics.

This was all that my J-Wife and I were waiting to see - Mao Asada v. Kim Yu-na for a rematch and that isn't going to happen.

Might as well go back to the regular programming NBC because the delight of the Olympics has pretty much fizzled out...

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

One of the best things about being English is the lack of this sort of nonsense in the (sensible) press.

Olympics? Well, we might pick up a silver or two, but don't get your hopes up....

World cup? We'll go out in the quarter finals on penalties....

Cricket? Less said the better....

So when something does go right, like the London Olympics, it's all a massive, happy surprise.

Always expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

lubrasi, totally agree expect the worse hope for the best, Japanese tend to do it the other way around.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ Saketown "Well, I'm done watching the Olympics. This was all that my J-Wife and I were waiting to see - Mao Asada v. Kim Yu-na for a rematch and that isn't going to happen."

Too bad you gave up watching! Mao Asada just put in a nice performance, didn't fall down even once, surpassed her previous personal best score, and is now in first place! With half (?) of the skaters still to go, including Yu-na Kim, who will skate last of all, there's no telling how it will end but I would certainly call this a rematch or cliffhanger. I personally don't care who wins but I'm glad Mao can now retire with a more positive ending.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just saw her Free Skate. My goodness. That was just pure artistry and perfection. Not just skated flawlessly but possibly performed the skate of her life. Unforgettable. I couldn't think of a better way for her to end her career on such a high note. What moved me was those tears at the end--not of sadness, but of joy. Seeing her smile like that after yesterday just warmed my heart.

Truly, what an amazing skater with an illustrious career. Thank you for the memories. Otsukare, Mao-chan!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It was good to see Mao-chan put on a good performance in the long program. Much better than going out on a down note.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Educator60

Well, I stand corrected then!

If Asada still has a chance at getting up the podium then I'm certainly tuning back in for sure!

Hopefully, she's shaken out all the nerves and the adrenaline. Thanks for the Heads Up!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That was amazing from Asada, proving what she can do when under less pressure. Having just watched the Russian skaters has just proven my suspicions from yesterday right - the Russians are having their scores inflated. The first Russian managed several big mistakes and still got 135 points!!!!! And how the heck did the other Russian get SEVEN points MORE than Asada!!!!!!! Kim is on soon and I don't think she's got a hope in hell - she's got the biggest rival ever - score inflation biased towards the Russians. Sorry, but even with her horrible SP, I now think Mao should be on the podium. This is disgusting.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It was good to see her do a decent free skate program, but even had her short been better, she would have had to score over 80 in the short to have a chance at gold and over 70 to even get a bronze. The standard is so high, it's unbelievable really. Adelina Sotnikova was amazing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, what a dramatic finish. Agreed, Sotnikova was amazing. She was more aggressive and daring in her routines. Her technical elements were higher than Yuna's, so even with mistakes it was too close to call. Sotnikova is quite the competitor; she was only 12 when she won her first Russian championship. Despite the spotlight on the younger Russian Lipnitskaya, she really gave it her all and deserves the gold.

Congratulations to her and to Yuna and Kostner. Great job, girls!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Saketown Thanks for the Heads Up!

You're welcome. Well, in the end no medal for Mao and Yu-na had to settle for silver but she appears to be happy with that and is taking it very gracefully.

As for whether the judging is skewered, it's all too complex for me to know, based on the difficulty of jumps, whether they are in the first or second half of the program, etc. I can never tell how many times they spun around, don't know the difference between a lutz and an axel and can't be bothered to study up on it. If I had to suddenly be a judge I'd probably have to just give points based on if I liked their costume or not!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just saw the final results and Asada failed to podium in the Free Style.

This is the Olympics.

This isn't a National or World Competition and there's no chance of doing it again for another 4 Years.

The Media puts TONS of pressure on these athletes because they are THE BEST OF THE BEST and they are expected to go out there and take home a Medal for their Country.

Nerves, Adrenaline, The Fear of Losing or Falling all goes with being an Olympian - nevertheless they gotta go out there and steam through the pressure.

Asada is still very young and very competitive. 2018 Winter Games sol be held in South Korea.

She should go there as the "Under Dog" with no expectations and maybe - surprisingly; she might just grab a Gold Medal in South Korea.

Now THAT would be a Novel Idea...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Except Asada and Kim are both retiring after this Olympic. Unless they retract their statements...

The Russian crashed on her performance yet still got gold? This thing is rigged. While the news was all on figurskating I noticed the memo show up on NHK talking about a bronze medal being won by another Japanese female athlete, switched channel to see what was going on. Unfortunately she probably won't get much press for winning a medal in a real sport.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Mao chan 6th place! Big jump from 15th. . Otsukaresama desu :-) Congratulations to All!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

titaniumdioxideFEB. 21, 2014 - 06:38AM JST Mao chan 6th place! Big jump from 15th. . Otsukaresama desu :-) Congratulations to All!

correction : from 16th

Indeed a very nice performance by Mao Asada. Congratulations to all the winners

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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