Obviously her skate in the long program will say alot (not so much her score as the scores in Japan should be taken with a grain of salt as already noted by others with Hanyu and some others). She will likely win this event even with an imperfect performance, regardless what her competitors do. However looking ahead, it looks like Kim is the only one who can seriously challenge Mao for this years Olympic Gold medal, and there is obviously a question mark around Kim at this moment. That said, whether or not Kim returns at her absolute best, I do not think Maos skating this season thus far, as strong as it is, is likely to beat her. The short program at the Grand Prix final was more of the same, great skating and standing up very difficult jumps, but always a costly technical error of sorts. It is clear she has a hard time consistently rotating the triple axel (her short program here had another downgrade), yet she continues to go for it, even with a high likelihood of < and even if it is not < likely not cleanly done, and in the long program especialy it also can be a challenge to receover from if it doesnt go perectly. She can get away with those vs anyone else, but not likely vs Kim.

So what should her best strategy be when facing Kim in Sochi. To try and scale back on the difficulty some and go clean, similar to the strategy that S&S are now at last trying to employ to challenge and put more pressure on V&T, and atleast secure the silver in Sochi. Or to go for broke in both programs, complete with all 3 axels and 3-3 combos, as her best shot of somehow beating a perfect Kim.