Asada contemplates career after Sochi, fires back at critical Tokyo 2020 chief
Japanese figure skater Mao Asada says there is a 50-50 chance she will continue her career after an impressive performance in the free skate at the Sochi Olympics, and that she has no regrets about including the triple axel in her routine.
Asada fell on her trademark triple axel to finish a disappointing 16th after the short program in Sochi but came back strongly in the free skate, recording a career best of 142.71 that gave her a total of 198.22 points for sixth place.
The 23-year-old skater said Tuesday that she may continue skating after next month's world championships in Saitama, Japan.
"I said Sochi would be the culmination of my efforts and maybe that was interpreted as I would retire," Asada said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "I have a big competition ahead of me and will decide after that. I'd say it's about 50-50."
After falling on the landing of the triple axel in her short routine at Sochi, Asada had several other mistakes, but she has rejected suggestions she should drop the jump altogether.
"It's something that empowers me, so I have always wanted to challenge it," said Asada, the only female figure skater who has landed three triple axels in one competition. "It was incorporated for the program in Sochi, so I couldn't just drop it. It's something that defines me."
Among those urging her to forgo the challenging jump was former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori -- now head of Tokyo's 2020 Olympic organizing committee -- who said Asada has a habit of "always falling at the most critical time."
Asked what she thought of Mori's comment, Asada was diplomatic.
"I'm human. I happen to fail," she was quoted as saying to Agence France-Presse.
"That's all in the past now," Asada said. "I don't feel anything in particular (about Mori-san's comment), but he might feel some regret about the comment he made."
Asada, the Winter Olympic athlete most mentioned in tweets throughout the Sochi Games, got even more Twitter props for speaking out.