i stood next to Mao at TEB last year, both in flat shoes, and she was defiantly taller than me, and I'm 5'2. 5'4 for her seems about right. She is TINY though, build wise, which I think would help her with the tight, quick rotations.
I enjoy her take off. It builds suspense!
Good on Mirai for working on it.
She also gained some weight right after the 2006 season.
After that, I think she helped her weight, by, say, not surrendering to chocolate chip cookies. Whenever I saw her, she had healthy snacks after practice.
In my opinion, it's also a matter of bone structure: I don't watch a lot of Kim's footage, but I seem to recall that Kim has quite some leg bones. Which Asada doesn't.
You are probably right about Yuna having a bigger bone structure than Asada. Broader shoulders and bigger leg bones to be sure. That also may have been some of the reason Yuna looked thinner than Mao in their junior years, just because she was more angular looking due to having bigger bones. I think that in recent years Yuna has also worked on building up her muscle mass and strength though, because if you remember back in 06-07 when Yuna was very slight, she also had issues with running out of steam at the end of her long programs.
I do sometimes wonder if there's some sort of pressure put on the ladies skaters in Japan though. It's hard to turn a blind eye to how much thinner Mao and Miki have become in recent years. Miki is not as thin as Mao and has quite the nice figure but used to be a lot stronger and more womanly looking than she does now. And then Akiko had the eating disorder, and Shizuka became a stick right after she retired. Makes me wonder... At any rate, I can see Mirai's 3a becoming a reality. She has the right build for it and the fact that that jump is getting stronger now compared to her junior days after she has grown up and filled out is a good sign that she's not taking unhealthy measures to master a tricky jump.
Shizuka looks the same to me.
As a figure skater, when I take time off, I actually LOSE muscle mass in my legs, making them look thinner. This could have easily happened to Shizuka. Miki did lose weight after 2008 worlds when she withdrew - I remember reading an article about it. Mao lost about 2Kg last season after the GPS. I think she actually put on muscle during the off-season, which threw off her jumps, so she lost it to get her jumps back. However, both Miki and Mao look to be healthy now - they seem to have smaller bone structure than other skaters.
Michelle was working on and promising a 3A while under Carroll, but it never materialized in competition. Considering the problems Mirai has had in competition, I wonder if her's will ever see the competitive ice.
Does anyone know what the training situation for Mao and the other Japanese skaters is? (Due to the Tsunami and radiation.)
Have any of them begun training outside of Japan due to the current crisis?
I wonder if Mirai will start attempting 3-3s in competition again anytime soon, or if she just plans to do the 3a instead. It seems more logical for her to try 3-3s first, but if her 3a is better than her 3-3s, she might as well do that instead.
Not being a skater I don't understand why the 3a is so much more difficult than the 2a. To the untrained eye it is just one more revolution in the air. From TV commentary, I heard that the 3a does not require more jump height than the 2a, rather it is all about timing. If, however, it is a timing issue then I still don't understand why the 3a seems to be uniquely difficult since I would think timing is essential to every jump type.
Just one more rotation in a jump which won't even last a second!
If you want to really simplify it down each jump has two main stages- the jump part and the rotation. For an axel, the right leg comes through and steps up into the jump and by bringing that leg up gives you the height. Then you need to snap into rotation position and obviously to get three turns in you need to get there as quickly as possible. So the timing aspect comes from balancing getting the maximum height possible and getting into rotation as quicky as possible. The whole jump happens in less than a second so achieve that timing is extremely difficult.
Axel is also more difficult because of the forward take off. The take off needs to be straight to be able to keep control of the jump so you are initiating rotation in the air. The other jumps take off backwards so as you go through the jumping stage you are already begining to rotate.
Thats at the basic level though, before you even start to think about where your hips, shoulders, head etc are at each split second of the jump!