She chose Sato as her coach. That counts as a initiative and a smart one.
She chose Sato as her coach. That counts as a initiative and a smart one.
Here is a recent Mao interview translated by linglang from Mao's fan forum
Mao Asada “I want to become a beautiful skater this season”
Mao Asada turned 21 years old on Sept. 25. Over the last two seasons, she struggled in the early stages of the season and often put uneasy look on her face. However, this is the second year since she went to her new coach and her cheerfulness has come back.
Spent good time-off; Kyoto trip and driving license
When season is over, I always feel that I really want to “take a rest.” Immediately after the last season ended, I strongly felt so. Feeling pressure from the attention? Yes I do. I know I have to achieve a good result (this season) for people who support me. I love figure skating. The harder the practice become before the start of competition, the lesser I feel like taking a rest. “I will make a good start this season”: That’s what I have in my mind now. I think I spent a good time-off. I did a lot of things other than those related to figure skating. I went to Kyoto for sightseeing. I got a driving license which was my main objective (in off-season). I took lessons (at driving school) for a month and was able to obtain the license without failing at all.
(Note: it takes time and costs a lot to get a driving license in Japan. Minimum 26 hours of lecture and 34 hours of driving lessons with multiple tests in different stages.)
A little fun break is good for a change
I’m happy my living area has expanded (since I got my driving license). I used to use subway. I was rarely spotted. But, it took long time to move around. Wake up and skate, eat and skate, sleep and skate … my life was like that. Recently, however, I got to know “there is another way to spend time.” After practice, I eat out or go shopping. I realized that a little fun break is good for a change. I act fairly freely on holidays. I go out alone, often in Tokyo. I enjoyed Yoyogi Uehara the other day. I enjoyed strolling back street of the shopping area. Sugamo and Asakusa are also interesting. But, because the season will start soon, I have to give it up for a while.
This season’s agenda is speed
Do I look radiant? Because Tatiana-sensei is in Russia, I couldn’t be with her so much. So, I often practiced alone and I was tense all the time. I suppose because it’s gone now (I look radiant). Since last year, I have Sato-sensei and Kumiko-sensei (Sato’s wife). Since I have someone looking after me every day, I feel comfortable. First thing I learned from Sato-sensei was skating. Shoulders should not move up and down, and it’s important because it affects everything including jumps. Sato-sensei has given me an agenda for this season, which is speed. He says “nothing could give more fascination than speed.”
Keeping in mind lessons learnt last season
I bear in mind lessons I learnt last season that is to “remember achievements and failures.” It’s of course about failed jumps and also about the way of doing practices … I repeated the same mistakes (last season) several times. Making mistakes and failing can also be “the way for success,” but you shouldn’t make same mistakes over and over again. To avoid it, we will decide on the program layout at the beginning of this season. Last season, we decided whether I would jump 3A or not on the day of competition. But this season, Sato-sensei and I will discuss thoroughly and decide and stick to the layout from practices to competition.
I turned 21 years old and I feel “the age.” Hardest part of practices is run-through to the music and also repeating same parts over and over again. It uses a lot of energy. I like practices but I got tired. I wasn’t like that some years ago. I was totally fine even after doing multiple run-throughs …
Love dancing as much as skating
I try to remember the joy of dancing (when I skate). I bear an image in mind that I’m dancing to the music. Then, I don’t get exhausted so much. Trying to find good positions while I’m dancing, I realize that figure skating is very deep. Kumiko-sensei says “Skate like when you skated at THE ICE.” I love dancing as much as I love skating. But, when it comes to competition, I become conscious more about win or lose. I myself enjoyed very much at THE ICE and I was able to see the smiles of people in the audience. I think it’s a good idea to skate at competitions with willingness to entertain the audience like ice shows. It’s a “new finding” for me.
“Princess“ who is also lovely
This season’s free program “Liebestraume” is the same program I skated last season. So, I feel very “comfortable” with it already. I think when I skate to it now, my feeling and expressions are all heart.” My new short program “Scheherazade” is the music I'd listen to whenever I visited Tatiana-sensei for choreography in the past. I wanted to skate to this music someday. There are many skaters who used this music. But, my tune is arranged in different taste. It’s the music of a princess who is not only strong but also lovely. I think Tatiana-sensei has brought out different sides of me. When you watch my old video footages, I think you notice that they were all about cute and cute stuff. I think she has raised me up about three levels higher to take a first step of adulthood.
Ms. Lori Nichol who has choreographed free program knows me since I was a child. It is Lori who taught me a lot of steps and made programs that suite me very well.
Lori & Tatiana-sensei is the best combination
Tatiana-sensei’s movements are unique while Lori’s choreography is not too difficult because programs are choreographed in the way that matches my tendency “I want to move like this” and thus I can move smoothly. More than anything, Lori is wonderful. Her skating is strong and graceful at the same time. I like watching her. I sense love from her. She loves skating very much. I think the combination of Lori and Tatiana-sensei is the best for me now. My first competition for this season will be in Nov. at NHK cup. It’s about one month later than the past two years. So I can practice thoroughly.
How well I can do while I enjoy it
I made people worried last season. I had messages from people saying “I’m very much worried about you.” So, I want to show them good performances this season. Instead of taking on new challenges, I want to concentrate on things I can do now to master them. It is the trend of the times that new skaters emerge one after another including those teenage Russian skaters. I was one of them back then. But, each athlete is unique. I want to become a “beautiful skater.” Because it is competition, there will be times I will show a strong attitude and become conscious about win or lose. While allowing it, how well I can go and I enjoy it? I want to pursue it. I think it may be my challenge for this year.
this is subjective I guess, but as beautiful as Sasha was, for me Arakawa was even more beautiful and could skate circles around her, btw...By Torino, I think it was clear cut who was the best skater in the competition. Lady Luck didn't have to do anything in Shizuka's career...if anything she's a huge underachiever!
Beautiful interview, thank you for sharing
I like Shizuka much better than Sasha, but I wouldn't say consistency was a strong suit of either one. Morozov recognized her problems and took the pressure off her in the 2006 Olys by asking her to not try the 3-3. She was really skating for a medal of any color, at that point, I think (probably silver), with Irina to follow her. Irina had one of the worst skates of her life, and who would have predicted that after 2005 worlds and the entire 2006 season? Shizuka did get lucky there. Otherwise a 5 triple program without a 3-3 or a 3A is not likely to win.
I love watching Shizuka's skating now. She has really come into her own, and I miss watching Sasha as a pro. As an eligible skater, I was never her fan.
I will say that skating her peak at the most important competition of her life gives her the edge over Sasha, who could never match that kind of fortitude.
Also, I love Mao and believe she'll do well this upcoming season.
Ok, her Marshalls performance was great! but that was a cheesefest and for me a watered down version of one of the few late great TAT programs. I think it's a bit exaggerated to call that one of the greatest performance in skating history. Her Olympics was much better, IMHO
Sorry for going off-topic. All the best to beautiful Mao
Thanks so much for translating that interview!
I'm glad to hear she's focusing on speed. Mao carries good speed across the ice but she tends to slow down in her jumps. If she can add that speed back, that will definitely help her. I also like what she said about selecting a jump layout and sticking with it. Making those decisions at the last minute leaves the door open for hesitancy and doubt which usually results in her popping or URing the intending jump. Having her layout predetermined means she can always practice the way she'll need to perform which should help her consistency.
Mao sounds like she's in a good place right now. I really love what she said here:
If she can manage to do this, she could be unbeatable. Her performance level at THE ICE tends to be 10x higher than it is in competitions. If she can bring that emotion, depth and feeling to her competition programs, she'd be amazing to watch!Kumiko-sensei says “Skate like when you skated at THE ICE.” I love dancing as much as I love skating. But, when it comes to competition, I become conscious more about win or lose. I myself enjoyed very much at THE ICE and I was able to see the smiles of people in the audience. I think it’s a good idea to skate at competitions with willingness to entertain the audience like ice shows. It’s a “new finding” for me.
It sounds like she's rediscovered the joy in her skating. I really hope so b/c that really makes all the difference. When she can let go of the worries and the uncertainty and just skate...everything will fall into place and she will be incredible.
Does anyone else think that the 3A was a mistake for Mao? I often wonder if she would have had better skates over the years if she had chosen to focus more on her other triples, and the 3/3 combos she used to do and simply left the 3A out. To me, her programs over the last few years have been all about that jump and when it doesn't happen, the program collapses.
I wish her luck in the coming season, she's a wonderful skater.
^^I don't think having the 3A was a mistake--that's a pretty awesome weapon to have in your arsenal considering hardly anyone at the time (or even now) was attempting it. Where I think she made her mistake was when her attention and focus shifted and was weighted more to the 3A than anything else. I think had she continued to work on her lutz back in 2008-09, it wouldn't be a problem now. Midway through the season, Tat decided to scratch it and decided to focus on adding the 3A-2t in the SP. Then they decided to do two 3As in the LP...it just all went downhill from there.
I think a more balanced approach would have served Mao better. I like Tat; I just don't like her with Mao in a competitive program format (her exhibition numbers for Mao are fabulous). To me, Tat was treating Mao like she was solely a jumper with nothing else to offer. I wanted Mao to be that breathtakingly beautiful skater who just so happened to have killer jumps. When she was with Tat, so much of the artistry and music fell away and the only thing left in its place was 3As and lots of footwork.
That's why I was so happy and relieved to see Liebestraum last year. That's a good combination of what Mao is: it has jumps (if she can put a 3-3 back in and manage a 2a-3t that'd be great) plus it has all of the lovely artistry and movement that Mao does so well. It's a well balanced program and that's what we hadn't seen from Mao in years. Masquerade and Bells were skewed heavily toward the 3As and footwork. I hated seeing Mao reduced to just that when she was and is capable of so much more...
I agree with Kwanatic. Her mistake was the design of her layouts post 2008 than the 3A itself. Her layouts in 2007-2008 season were very good. She should've stuck with them. I know she was struggling with her 3-3 combos but it wasn't wise to completely abandon them.
I too agree with Kwanatic. The 3A gives her an advantage over others that cannot execute. IMO she abandoned the 3f3R (or was it 3f3t?- I don't remember) she was doing early in her career. The judges were not punishing the flutz back then, but when they started doing that, Mao abandoned the lutz entire. IMO that was a mistake. She needed to continue working on her problem jumps, but use the layout that had worked for her, as Kwanatic suggested.
She started doing the 3-3s again during practices and warm-ups when she became more consistent after working on fixing her jumps. Here's 3F-3L she landed in the warm-up at 4CC this year: http://i53.tinypic.com/24fw64y.gif
Actually, the flutz deduction was introduces in the 2007 off-season, but Mao continued to do 3Lz until 2009. She worked on keeping the outside edge on the take-off and managed to have a few Lutzes ratified without the edge call in the 2008-09 season.The judges were not punishing the flutz back then, but when they started doing that, Mao abandoned the lutz entire.
Unfortunately, after she grew a little the "hammer toe" on 3F/3Lz became more prominent. With the way Mao started to bend/tilt on the take-off maintaining the outside edge became virtually impossible.
Mao herself said that it was impossible for her to regain the ease of jumping using her "old" technique, because it was not compatible with her matured body. To fix that, she needed to go back to basics and work on her jumps (especially 3F/3Lz) from the scratch - but it was too close to the Olympics by then.
Actually, I think it was a bit of the other way around. IMHO it wasn't so much that Mao focused on 3A so much that she gave up on other jumps - it's more that her other jumps became so unreliable that she had to fall back on the jumps that she felt more comfortable with.Originally Posted by kwanatic
After the Olympics there was a documentary aired which revealed some of Mao's pre-Olympic practice sessions. She seemed to be concentrating almost solely on the triple flip - she was shown doing it over and over again, and mostly popping / doubling / underrotating. Back then it didn't even look strong enough to put in a program, let alone as the first part of a triple-triple. And because Mao couldn't do a 3-3, 3S got scrapped as well (solo 3L was worth more points). Without 3Lz and a 3-3, 3A was the only big point-getter Mao could fall back on.
I also think a large part of the reason lies in how she was managed after she left Arutunian. Rafael didn't fix her flutz but he did a good job helping her maintain her other jumps and overall physical condition. It's common knowledge that Mao trained mostly by herself during her years with TAT. I feel things could have been better if a good technical coach had stayed by her side during those years.