Figure skater Mao Asada will take a season off from competitive skating and says there is a 50 percent chance she will return to the sport.
Speaking at a news conference Monday, Mao said she is mentally and physically tired and wants a chance to focus on other aspects of her life, including attending university.
“I worked very hard from Vancouver to Sochi,” said Mao, who won silver at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. “Now I feel it’s time to take a year off and rest. We’ll see how I feel after a break. At this point it is 50-50.”
Mao captured her third title at the figure skating world championships in Saitama in March, which followed a sixth-place finish at the Sochi Olympics.
The 23-year-old Mao went into Sochi carrying gold medal hopes, but finished a disappointing 16th in the short program before an inspirational free skate that vaulted her up the standings. Mao is the only female figure skater who has landed three triple axels in one competition.
While conceding there is a chance she may return to competition, Mao said she can’t picture herself competing at the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.
Mao began figure skating at the age of five and made her senior debut in the 2005-06 season. She won her first world title in 2008. Her longtime rival, Yuna Kim of South Korea, retired after Sochi.