Throwback Thursday: Mao Asada

It’s Throwback Thursday time! Each Thursday until the Olympics, I will feature a skater/team/program from the last Olympics.

mao asada 10 olympics lp

This week’s Throwback Thursday skater is Mao Asada. This may come as a surprise to some, especially since Mao’s programs that season weren’t quite suited to her and weren’t artistic masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination. There’s also the obvious reason that she was eventually beaten by Yuna Kim who skated brilliantly at the Olympics. However, for this Throwback Thursday I just want to celebrate the small contribution that Mao has made to innovate and advance ladies figure skating through her accomplishments during the last Olympics. Let’s take a look at her programs from the last Olympic season, shall we?

What was so impressive about this set of programs is the total number of triple axels she in from both programs: 3. She was the first lady in history to do this as the triple axel has rarely been done successfully in competition by the ladies. For anyone who has read my Skating 101 post on jumps, the axel is the most difficult triple jump. Many elite men, including the Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek and current World champion, Patrick Chan have struggled with this jump.

But what exactly was Mao’s contribution to ladies’ figure skating?

Well, if you look at Mao’s short program, you’ll notice that her jumps, in order are: triple axel-double toeloop (3A-2T), triple flip (3F) and double axel (2A). In present day, Mao mostly does her triple axel alone and not as a combination jump in her short program. That was because before the 2010/2011 season, ladies were required to do 3 jumping passes in total:

  • A combination jump with a 2 and 3 rotations or two jumps with 3 rotations.
  • A jump with 3 rotations.
  • A double axel.

If you’ve read my Skating 101 post on program elements (coming soon!), you’ll know that this list is slightly different nowadays as ladies can do EITHER a double OR triple axel in the short program.

I believe at the end of the 2009/2010 season, the Japanese figure skating federation argued that if one lady could do the triple axel in competition, then all ladies should be able to attempt the 2A or the 3A just as the men can in their short program. The bid for this rule change was successful and now, ladies are allowed to attempt a double or a triple axel in their SP as part of the requirements. There has yet to be a lady other than Mao who has taken advantage of this rule but at least the possibility is there and who knows, maybe one of the upcoming Russian phenoms will surprise us.

What do you think of the rule change? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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