Mao plays down injury concerns

Kyodo

Former two-time world champion Mao Asada arrived in Sochi in the early hours of Thursday morning confident a recurrence of a lower back problem will not affect her bid for her first Grand Prix Final title in four years.

Mao, who has won two events on the Grand Prix series this season at the Cup of China and the NHK Trophy, has been suffering from back pain during practice in Japan.

But the figure skating star, “I will be practicing less now that I have arrived here and I think I will be OK.”

Mao had the world’s highest score of the season in the short program en route to victory at the NHK Trophy, but had an error-strewn free skate.

“Hopefully I won’t make the same mistakes again this time,” she said.

The prestigious Grand Prix Final is doubling up as a test event for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and Vancouver Olympic silver medalist Mao said she saw footage of the venue on her way to Sochi.

“It makes me realize that the Olympics are getting closer,” she said.