/

Suzuki happy to skate for Japan once again

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Akiko Suzuki completed her first workout here on Friday morning since arriving for the Sochi Games and took time afterward to reflect on a career that is nearing its end.

Suzuki, who won the national title in December, will take the ice in the free skate for Japan on the final day of competition in the team event on Sunday. Mao Asada will compete in the short program for Japan on Saturday.

Following a 30-minute practice at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Suzuki clearly was moved by getting a chance to represent the Hinomaru for a second time.

“There has been no team event so far at the Olympic Winter Games, so these games mean a lot to me,” she said. “Team Japan is very supportive and strong, and the audience’s support also helped (last night).”

The 28-year-old Suzuki, who finished eighth at the Vancouver Games, said has a calm feeling as her time to skate approaches.

“Vancouver 2010 was my first Olympics, now in Sochi I am more experienced and not nervous anymore,” she commented.

Suzuki will take part in the world championships next month in Saitama, the same place where she upset Mao to claim her first national title on her 13th attempt.

“This will be the last (Olympic) competition of my career and it means a lot to me,” she stated. “After my performance I want to think that I was able to show everything I can.”

The Nagoya native, who has always enjoyed a deep connection with her fans, will strive to give them something to remember in Sochi.

“I won’t only concentrate on my jumps, but on the whole performance,” she said. “I want to make a change in people’s hearts.”