Figure Skating

Skating icon Mao intends to make comeback

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

In the end, Mao Asada could not give up competitive figure skating.

Three-time world champion Mao announced on Monday that she has already started practicing under her coach’s guidance in hopes of returning to competition after a year’s break.

“Since I took a break a year ago, I gradually found myself missing the feeling of achievement and joy that I felt during the moments when I gave my best performances,” Mao said at a news conference for her annual ice skating show. “This is not the only reason I decided to return. Now I’m practicing daily to get back into competitive shape.”

This was Mao’s confirmation of the announcement she had made on her official blog Monday morning.

“To come back as a skater, I went to meet my coach in March and started practicing with the coach in May,” Mao wrote on her blog. She did not mention the coach’s name in her blog post, but it is believed to be Nobuo Sato, who coached her most recently.

What Mao, 24, could not say was whether she will be good enough to compete at top-tier events such as the Grand Prix series this season or even in the future.

“I just started practicing. My coach says if everything goes well, I can return to competition, but if not, I can’t,” she said.

Mao says she has not even considered the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“You never know what is going to happen. At this moment, I am not thinking about the Olympics,” she said. “I’m focused on my current goal, which is getting back into competitive shape.

“At least I have to return to the level that I was at when I won the world championship last year.”