What are Mao Asada's chances of becoming Olympic Champion in 2014?
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
Last edited by Mao88; 10-11-2012 at 04:12 AM.
Honestly, I think it too soon to tell. In part I say this because I think we need to see how Mao skates as the season progresses to see where here jumps really are. In part, well, there's lots of competition out there and we need to see how they stack up - that includes relative newbies (like some of the Russsian girls), skaters like Wagner who appear to be 'on fire' and on an upward trajectory, and the likes of YuNa...
So, for me, too soon to tell at all. But, there is an elegance to Mao's skating and her overall body line that I find really engrossing. Hope she has a great competitive season!
If I had to guess now my odds to become 2014 Olympic Champion would be:
Julia L- 15%
All other Russians combined- 5%
Gracie Gold- 2%
Akiko Suzuki- 2%
Everyone else combined- 1%
Originally Posted by pangtongfan
Originally Posted by brightphoton
Someone I miss who you have a sweep spot for? Osmond perhaps.
Caroline Zhang is my perennial favorite but she keeps getting the short end of the stick at Nationals
Originally Posted by pangtongfan
Hmmm I love Zhang but will be thrilled if she somehow makes the U.S team to even go to Sochi as I am sure she would be. My dream team for Sochi is Wagner, Zhang, and Zawadski, but unfortunately I am almost sure Gold will make it and 1 of the latter two will have to miss out (or more if the U.S only has 2 spots or someone else gets in there too).
Originally Posted by brightphoton
I think that Mao's best chance is a medal: even if she didn't compete last season, Yu-Na is still the favourite in my mind, Adelina and/or Lipnitskaya and Liza are good contenders for the medals (especially Adelina, if Julia and Liza are going to face growing problems in the next months), I don't think Kostner has a real chance, simply because of her low jumps arsenal: this season, she won because of her PCS and because there weren't the Russians, Yu-Na or Miki and Mao wasn't in good shape; but she could easily place in the top 6. Miki won't skate in Sochi (she has already announced it), and I'm still not sure about Akiko: will she be physically ready? We all know that, when you are 27-28, injuries are always a probable factor... And, obviously, the Americans: wagner and gold are good contenders...
My predicitions are:
fighting for the gold: Yu-Na, Adelina, Wagner, Gold
fighting for a medal: Mao, Liza, Julia, (maybe and hopefully) Kostner.
Mao has to fix her jumps if she wants to be a serious gold contender like she was in 2010, and, yes, she needs a 3-3 for the SP!
Mao is a fighter and a determined skater, and she unlike MANY others has the whole package, both her technical content and presentation score could go sky high. Mao is the only skater i see as a real contender to the gold medal, at such an early stage.
don't forget this is still the first competition of the season, so all the flaws that she had here will be adjusted as the season goes by.
for me all the other skaters lack something either on the technical department or on their PCS. and then there is skaters like kim who is a big question mark for me!
Mao has a chance, I thought she did not look too bad at all at the JO, early days - but that program was the old Mao, Technically just needs a bit more speed as some of the jumps look close to underrotation - which could be her downfall but her spins and steps and transitions are lovely - she certainly has worked on the connecting steps with Tats!
I think nothing is certain at this point. I mean in the men's discipline, Chan seemed like a sure contender for the gold in the last few seasons, isn't looking so certain anymore after his performance at JO. So who knows.
Pangtongfan, I love YuNa, but i'm curious as to how you arrive at 40% odds for her (so much better odds than anyone else on your list) after her 2+ years away from competitive skating. Have we seen her do enough recently to make the outcome so sure? Of course I'd love to see her do well, but at this point, is enough evidence in to give us such a good picture of YuNa as compared to everyone else?
As for Mao, I just cross my fingers and hope. Since YuNa already has a gold, this time around I want Mao to experience that for herself. If it's a matter of gaining additional power, surely she can improve her conditioning. This is a determined kid, and I don't think we've ever seen her go after something halfheartedly. I so love her style and artistry, and she also has the toughness of temperament that several of the current champions seem to lack.
Ice is so slippery; it is about timing too. For example Chan may have peaked too soon leaving the door for Tak or Hanyu. There may not be enough time for the Russian ballerinas to get to the top. Actually Wagner looks real good time wise and peaking. Mao is a bit concerning because she still hasn't fixed her jumps or made a real commitment do I drop some problem triples and focus on the triple axel and doing two in the free skate? Do I fix my flutz and do a triple triple for the short. She has switched her focus several times fromt he 3A to the other jumps but neither are consistent and it affects her whole program. There is still time and we really have to see HYuna skate before we make predictions of her rise to the top again. At least Johnny Weir has skated, legit or not Evan and Yuna like Miki are or were all talk. Remember Sasha Cohen well she did skate eventually but it was too late for her Olympic2010 dreams. maybe that's the problem skaters are too fickle maybe in part there isn't the money for pro comps and shows.
I don't know how big a chance YuNa has, and I haven't seen her skating recently. But, I can tell you this. Without some confidence on her own technical level, she would not have made a decision to come back.
Originally Posted by Olympia
I agree with Pangtongfan. I know 40% odds seems high considering Yu-na's been out of competition for a season. But, if Yu-na comes back with her jump arsenal and consistency intact, I think she's the favorite. If she's at least as good as 2011 Worlds, her GOE on jumps, especially the triple Lutz/triple toe, still trumps everyone else's. Add to that huge PCS scores for skating skills and her continuing-to-improve artistry--and I like her chances.
Originally Posted by Olympia
I'm a huge Mao fan, and I'd love to see her win in Sochi, but it won't be easy. Her Achilles heel obviously is the underrotation and edge calls on her jumps. At this point, just 16 months from Sochi, I don't see her jump technique changing or improving much. I personally would suggest that Mao: Focus on the speed, artistry, delivery of the programs and on audience connection. Do everything possible to maximize PCS. And go for the jumps at all cost. Knowing that UR/edge calls will happen, there's absolutely no margin for doubling or popping jumps. Lastly, forget the triple Axel unless and until it becomes truly consistent again.
Despite all the problems Mao's had, I think she remains a legitimate contender, and so 15% odds seems right for her. Kostner is also a real contender. Yes I know she is lacking the jump difficulty right now--but that could improve a bit before Sochi. She has everything else, and the judges absolutely love her. She's almost the only one who could rival Yu-Na in PCS, assuming both are at their best. I'd put her odds higher, at 15%.
Lipnitskaya? 15% odds seems high to me. Just watched her for the first time in the Finlandia LP. Can't say I was blown away. Her spins are incredible, and the jumps were there in Finlandia. But not much going on between the elements. And she's just so young. Looking at her carriage and speed and choreography and artistry vs. someone like Carolina or Yu-na, there's simply no comparison. I, for one, am hoping the days of 15-year-old OGM winners are forever behind us. Time will tell, I guess. But the fact is, very few junior ladies' phenoms in the last few years have turned into consistent champions on the senior level (the last ones being Ando, Kim, and Asada).
Wagner at 10% seems right to me. Just watched her Japan Open LP. Great start to the season for her; she looks fit, ready, and confident, and the program is strong. Best of all, after reading her ESPN blog, I really think Ashley has the right mindset. She truly recognizes that this year is critically important for her. Cracking top 5 at Worlds is one thing; maintaining that position and building on it is a whole other challenge. Ashley seems to really understand this (unlike Mirai & Alissa after 2010 & 2011 Worlds respectively). I like her attitude and outlook.