Well, I certainly understand her wish to have a life that has been impossible for her up to now. I imagine that university must look so tantalizing to a kid who's never done anything but train. Also, I don't know much about the Japanese university system, but I get the feeling that it's not as chronologically loose as American colleges are. Here, people sometimes go to college or university in their twenties or even later, for various reasons. (They served in the military; they couldn't afford it and had to work for a few years; they are changing careers; or, like Michelle and Sasha, they skated during their teens.) A college or university campus, especially a large one, might have students of many ages. Can someone from Japan enlighten me on how much there is of this kind of age spread in Japanese universities?
I'd love to see Kanako continue, but if she wants to experience the outside world, she should be allowed the luxury of that choice.
On the Ice
I graduated from a university in Japan a while ago. The age spread of students there used to be - over 95% are 18-22. I believe it's not so much difference between now and then.
Anyway to be a competitive skater needs lots of sacrifice over so many years, and it's daily sacrifice, as getting up at 4 am take the ice, joggling between training and practice... Kanako, in the middle of training for Olympics now, can only work hard by allowing herself to dream "after this I can do whatever I want". She just started to go to the university, has changed her hair color, appeared with pierce earrings in front of the media people (those are two things that highschool girls cannot do in Japan), is exposed to a new world. It doesn't mean for sure she is going to quit after Sochi. When she was younger, at her first Nationals she said she "wanted to be Yamada (her coach), that's why she was skating". (She really loved her coach. So she said she wanted to be Yamada herself. That was her ultimate goal.) Only after seeing Mao at Olympics she got motivated to win, to catch them up. She is such a sweet girl to express her emotions like that, so this time I take her statement as her dream, not as her plan