Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Swan Queen is reborn

Mao Asada looking as ethereal as ever. 

So I will be writing a post about the Japan Open, but I felt so much irrational, spine tingling joy at watching this that I decided it was worthy of it's own post. This competition sent one very important message that should have every skater fleeing to their national level competitions (unless you're Japanese, in which case nowhere is safe) and that message is; Mao Asada is back. This time it looks like nothing is there to stop her, she has had time to get at least partly to grips with the tragic death of her mother and her jumping technique is looking better then ever. She also seems to have forgotten about the triple axel which is a good move on her part, due to large amount of time she spent on it that would have been better spent on other elements. This Swan Lake program mustn't have come as a surprise to anyone, Mao is an incredibly light, delicate and balletic skater and this reflects it beautifully. One thing I truly appreciate about how it's done is it does not use the traditional cuts of the music and not in the traditional order. It also displays how she has put the joy back into her skating, and it is radiating off her towards the end. It does need work in parts that seem rather sparse, but overall it has the Mao Asada stamp of reserved yet powerful artistry coupled with some jumps and spins that wouldn't put Midori Ito and Lucinda Ruh to shame. Now for my thoughts on the program as it goes along.

Mao started off with possibly the most exquisite triple loop I have ever seen, a adjective usually reserved for Sasha Cohen. She then followed with a double axel with a slightly shaky landing so she settled on the double toe, which was then followed by some trademark Mao Asada movements. Then there are some nice transitions into an absolutely effortless triple flip, at this point I was sure she had the gold in the bag considering how steady she looked. Next a triple lutz which receives both an edge and rotation call but she landed it nicely and it looks like it won't be giving her the problems it did last year. Then a combination spin placed very well so as each change of position matches a dramatic beat of the music, which works much better then the traditional stop and pose tactic used for this section. A spread eagle is used to highlight the black swan pas de deux, She's looking worthy of any kind of swan imagery one could conjure up at this point and lands a gorgeous salchow, once again showing the improvement in her jumping technique and her newfound confidence in it. The salchow precedes a nice triple loop-double loop combination and a second combination which although invalid (this cost her the gold) was of incredible quality. Then there was a ragged looking triple flip-double loop-double loop combination which was undoubtably going to get some rotation calls, a valiant effort though. Her flying camel after is decent and is followed by a difficult and well executed step sequence and a very nicely placed spread eagle into her spiral which is full of joy and has excellent stretch, and then the finish allows the audience to fully unleash their elation. The finish is superb for many reasons, one being it isn't a combination spin, the other being that expression on her face and the last being it's reserved power. This skate had me excited enough to write about it at 2:50 in the morning and I don't regret it. Ashley was lucky that miss Asada was called on a spin technicality, if she had have put a flying entrance on one of the combinations she would have won. She has everything necessary to win and judging by the jump content she's gunning for her third world title and honestly, judging by this skate she has everything she needs to win it and she knows it. I shall post about the full event and ramble slightly less. 


  1. Mao Asada's Swan Lake was just lovely. I just hope she won't tinker with the choreography too much, like what happened with Liebestraum after 2010-2011 Japanese Nationals...the new choreography made it easier to land the jumps, but it just wasn't the same.

    1. I doubt they're going to mess with the choreography that much this time, considering that her jumping technique was very alien to her at that point. The only foreseeable change is the triple axel being added in, in my opinion.

  2. I think Mao still has to be more familiar with this program since she had to go back to Russia in August to redo it after the rule changes were published. I don't think they'll be tinkering more but rather let Mao become more familiar with it. Beautiful first outing of the program, though. I hope she continues to improve and skate this beautifully each time we see her on the ice this season.