The Japan Skating Federation has received more than 400 e-mails asking for a move to open the way for an Olympic appearance by teenage figure skater Mao Asada after her Grand Prix Final victory.
Japanese figure skating officials said the telephones also kept on ringing at the federation’s head office on Sunday, which was an office holiday, after Asada beat Russian world champion Irina Slutskaya to win the women’s title the previous day.
The e-mails demanded that the federation ask the International Skating Union for special treatment allowing 15-year-old Asada to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Turin.
On Saturday, ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta reiterated the skating governing body’s policy of making no exceptions to the age rule that has shut out Asada from the Turin Games.
The ISU limits Olympic appearances to figure skaters who have turned 15 years old by June 30 of the year before a Winter Olympics. Asada was born on Sept. 25, 1990 and fails to meet the regulation by 87 days.
Cinquanta said Japan approved the rule when it was adopted at the ISU’s general assembly meeting nine years ago from a medical viewpoint, not from a technical viewpoint. He also noted that no moves have been made by Japan in order for Asada to skate in Turin.
A senior JSF official said the Japanese federation has no intention of requesting special treatment for Asada.
“There are skaters we have helped build up for Turin in the past four years. Whatever the public might say, we will not change our stand,” said Noriko Shirota, a JSF chief technical director in charge of figure skating.
“We decided to give Mao an opportunity to skate in this year’s Grand Prix series as part of our efforts to help her win a medal at next season’s world championships in Tokyo,” Shirota said.
Asada, a junior high school student in Aichi Prefecture, made her debut on the senior circuit this season after sweeping major international titles at junior level.
Asada finished second to Slutskaya at the Cup of China in early November in her Grand Prix debut. Then she won the Trophee Bompard in Paris two weeks later for her first Grand Prix title and breezed into an elite field of six skaters in the Grand Prix Final.
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