Mao Asada finds herself between two key events this season, Trophy Eric Bompard where she was dealt a huge blow to her confidence by Kim Yu-Na who annihilated the field in Paris, and Rostelecom Cup in Moscow where she must face her biggest Japanese rival Miki Ando...the skater that put her off a podium at Worlds for like the first time ever it seemed.
Things are not going as Mao Asada planned I think.
I remember the Mao Asada that, out of seemingly nowhere, twizzled her way right past Irina Slutskaya to win the 2005 Grand Prix Final...fresh out of the junior ranks. I remember the Japanese Skating Federation up in arms because they couldn't send Mao to Torino because of her age. "She would win" they said (luckily Shizuka Arakawa came through for them and their fit over Asada quickly ended).
After narrowly losing to Ando at the 2007 Worlds, she took things by the horns and won the 2008 World Title (Kim Yu-Na...third at both events). But then things haven't been the same since.
Somewhere between then and now she's stopped being Mao Asada...she's become Maoasova Asadakova. She's stopped using the best in her skating: lightness on her feet, effortless triple-triple combinations, and a youthfulness that never ended. Instead she's chosen to focus, almost exclusively, on the need for a triple axel, skate to heavy dark music, and choose choreography that is so heavy it saps the life out of the arena. I think Tatiana Tarasova has created her version of a Russian Ice Queen...trouble is it doesn't translate through Asada. Instead we are left scratching our heads.
Also, somewhere between then and now...Kim Yu-Na became Queen Yu-Na.
The trouble is, I think she's out of time. Short of withdrawing from the rest of the season, doing a complete revamp, and reappearing in Vancouver magically transformed, she's gonna have to work with what she has. She has to find a way for the best in her skating to shine through or I feel she will end this season feeling empty handed.
UPDATE: Yahoo! Japan is reporting that Mao Asada is intending on changing her short program. A glimmer of hope?
UPDATE 2: Occasionally, my mind falters on my competition rememberance. To clarify, Kim Yu-Na has never been third at the GPF...she won in 06' and in 07'...she was second to Mao last season.