Uemura aims for steady progress

Kyodo

Once the darling of the Japanese sports world, freestyle skier Aiko Uemura is facing an uphill grind on the road back after her extended hiatus away from competition.

Uemura, 32, who finished fourth in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in her last major competition, will make her first appearance this year on home powder in a freestyle moguls’ World Cup this weekend at Naeba Ski Resort in the hot springs mountainous region of Yuzawa.

“After I made the decision that I would compete again this season, it took me a while to get motivated but once it was decided that I would compete in this World Cup in Japan, I decided to give it my best shot,” said Uemura after the Japanese team’s practice on Friday.

“I have many hurdles to get over but I am happy that I could make it here. Many fans have high expectations for me at this World Cup in Japan, so I would like to give them an enjoyable performance.”

Uemura made her comeback to the World Cup circuit in January, and her highest finish so far has been seventh place, while the Hyogo native has failed to make the final in two meets thus far.