Mao had a reasonable season debut at the Japan Open, finishing second to Ashley Wagner by just 1.53 points. The difference between the two was simply the fact that Mao was zero'd on one of her spins. Had she got that, then she would have won. Loved Mao's new Swan Lake LP and she received great PCS marks.
However, what worried me about Mao's season debut was that she still has the same technical problems she has been displaying for the last two seasons: the flutzing and under-rotating of her 3Z, the under-rotating of other jumps (she under-rotated every element of her 3Fx2Rx2R combination), doubling out on triples (the intended 2Ax3T turned into a 2Ax2T). All of this suggests a continuing lack of power in her jumping ability. She may or may not add the 3A later in the season, and there is still no triple-triple combination. Hence, the technical frailties of the last two seasons do not yet seem to have been resolved.
With just 18 months to go until the Sochi Olympics, therefore, what are Mao's chances of becoming Olympic champion? My view is that unless she can sort out these technical problems soon, she faces an uphill struggle. The flutzing on her Lutz will probably never be resolved, but that is not fatal to her chances. What does need to be resolved, however, is the loss of power in her jumping ability - the constant under-rotating. If she can sort that out, then the rest of the pieces of the jigsaw will probably fall into place. In terms of the 'power' problem, she still looks rather frail and thin. If she is to become Olympic champion, then I think the element that she needs to work on most is her physical conditioning. If she can improve that, then she should be able to recover the power behind her jumping ability and stop the under-rotating. She should also be able to add a triple-triple combination