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 Asada eager to rebound after NHK Trophy disaster

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PostSubject: Asada eager to rebound after NHK Trophy disaster    Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:45 am

Asada eager to rebound after NHK Trophy disaster

- by Takeshi Sakagami, Asahi.com

After she stumbled to a disappointing eighth place finish in last month's NHK Trophy, figure skating fans nationwide had to be asking themselves, "What the heck happened to Mao Asada?"

The reigning world champion scored a personal low of 133.40 in her native Nagoya, but the Chukyo University student says it's too early to press the panic button as she prepares for the Trophee Eric Bompard, which gets under way Friday in Paris.

"There's nothing I can do about it," Asada says of the NHK Trophy. "I wasn't able to land my jumps in practice before the competition."

Asada says she began changing her jumps during the offseason, and was only halfway through the process. She had changed the timing of her jumps and used less vertical movement.

"(In practice), my jumps were much better than usual. I even surprised myself. I think that got everyone's hopes up," she says. "But during the competition, of course, I couldn't land the jumps that I usually can't land in practice. And there was no way I could have won with most of my jumps being unsuccessful."

Of course, she isn't happy about it. She experienced a similar slump at the start of last season, but claims her slow start this season is a different.

"Last season, I was able to successfully land jumps in practice, but not in competition," Asada says. "But this season I'm retraining my jumps from scratch. I've just only been able to land all six types of jumps in my new style. I was about to incorporate those jumps into my program, so this is completely different from last season."

Because of her new approach this season, the NHK Trophy was almost like extended training.

"I don't like showing people my mistakes. But there was significance in competing even under those circumstances," Asada says. "I was able to check my condition at that point. Experiencing many things can help me push myself in the future. If I don't compete, I don't think I can grow from this current stage."

After the NHK Trophy, Asada and coach Nobuo Sato have pretty much stuck to their normal training routine.

Sato told Asada that she needs to continue skating in her new style and that it's important she gain and accumulate something every day.

"My coach and I decided to practice in 60- to 90-minute sessions, three or four times a day," Asada says. "I also have track and field training. I skate in shorter sessions, but with more concentration."

Asada began training at the Shin-Yokohama Skate Center after the NHK Trophy. She trains there with dozens of other skaters, including men's Olympian Takahiko Kozuka. Asada doesn't get special treatment. In one training session, she gets her piece of music played just once like everyone else.

"At Chukyo University I can play my music as many times as I want, but not at the Shin-Yokohama Skate Center. That's why I can boost my concentration, because I know I only have that one chance," Asada says. "It's also important to be watched by many people. It's OK to make mistakes. It forces me to concentrate on that one opportunity and skate an entire program in front of people. That's important for me right now."

With her dismal showing at the NHK Trophy, it will be an uphill struggle for Asada to advance to the season-ending Grand Prix Final in Beijing. If she fails to make the cut, it will be the second season in a row. But Asada remains positive.

"Everyone has their ups and downs. But I can't afford to perform as badly as I did at the NHK Trophy," she says. "I think I can do better in France. I'm now more than halfway to the level I want to be at."

When asked to write a message for children, Mao hesitated.

"A message for children--What should I write? 'Practice makes perfect?' But kids may think that's not very convincing coming from me right now. I'll go with 'nisshin-geppo' (constantly evolving)."

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