IFS August 2017 – Our cover story recaps the long and successful career
of Japanese icon Mao Asada — from her first international
through to her final competition.
Mao Asada had the good fortune of arriving on the skating scene on the heels of Shizuka Arakawa’s historic 2006 Olympic victory in Torino, Italy. Japanese fans rode the wave, embracing not only their national hero, but also the sport.
Though Asada never claimed an Olympic gold medal, she became an icon in her homeland, and around the world. She not only elevated ladies figure skating artistically and technically, Asada was a driving force behind the popularity of the sport in Japan today.
Though her artistic endeavours began in a tutu in ballet class that was not stage Mao Asada was destined to shine on. In 1995 at age 5, she began taking skating lessons. It did not take long for her to be identified as a talent and Asada began working with Machiko Yamada, the former coach of Midori Ito.
She burst onto the international skating scene as a precocious 13-year-old. A last minute replacement at a 2004 Junior Grand Prix event in Long Beach, California, Asada surprised everyone by capturing the title. She followed that up with a victory in Kiev, Ukraine, and headed to the Junior Grand Prix Final ranked first.