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

Sparkle Quality: Midori Ito

Whenever I need some cheering up, I turn to Midori Ito. Midori was a lady who was way beyond her time and it’s truly too bad that she got buried in the compulsory figures (which don’t exist anymore) or else she would’ve won more medals. Midori may not have had the extension and she had a pretty horrible wrap in her jumps but she jumped just as high, if not higher than the men of her time. To put this in perspective, the major competitors of the men’s competition during her era of skating include Victor Petrenko, Scott Hamilton, Brian Orser and Boitano and Kurt Browning. Midori was the first lady to land a triple axel in competition, including the Olympics.

Even during her youth, it was very clear that Midori was very, very talented. Midori was 11 years old here and finished 8th in this competition but she only did so because she was 20th after the first compulsory.

Fast forward 3 years… (Look at that double loop-triple loop combination!)

Midori is just full of surprises. Double tano-armed double flip and that double axel with her arms on her sides! Perhaps Midori’s best quality is just how infectious her happiness is. Her smile and her expressions of joy just bring a smile to your face.

Remember this moment of figure skating history, this is the first time a lady landed a triple axel at the World championships. She barely hung on but she did a perfect 3A at the NHK trophy earlier on in the season. Take that Patrick Chan!

And the infamous accident… (I think the rink just wasn’t big enough to contain her amazingness.)

There was also that other unfortunate incident with the French hot mess called Surya Bonaly who did an illegal backflip in practice to psych Midori out. Sadly it worked and as a result, I will begrudge Bonaly for the rest of my life. I love how another legendary fierce bitch extraordinaire (Katarina Witt) calls Surya out for that.

I think I’ll end this post on a high note. Her 1990 Worlds LP was just pure fabulousness. Just look at how high she jumps! The camera had to tilt upwards to get her!


~The Rinkside Cafe