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 Asada searching for National comeback

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Rezev
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PostSubject: Asada searching for National comeback   Sun Dec 19, 2010 9:51 am



Asada searching for National comeback




- source By Alexa Ainsworth, Universal Sport

The most competitive national championships will be held over Christmas in Japan and Russia. Is Mao Asada closer to competitive form? Will defending champ Daisuke Takahashi hold off Oda and Kozuka? Which Russian teenager will win the ladies' title? Here's a look at the compelling match-ups.

Two of the most competitive national championships will be held over Christmas in Japan and Russia. Is Mao Asada closer to top form? Will defending champ Daisuke Takahashi hold off Oda and Kozuka? Which Russian teenager will win the ladies' title?

Here's a closer look at the match-ups...

Japan

The most competitive national championships will be held in Nagano over Christmas.

The ladies' field includes four of the best skaters in the world vying for three spots at Worlds.

There is quite a predicament for skating's powerhouse nation. What to do with Mao Asada...the reigning world champ?

Kanako Murakami, Akiko Suzuki, and Miki Ando all qualified for the Grand Prix Final and finished 3-4-5, respectively. So when/if Asada returns to form, who is out?

Murakami is the reigning world junior champ and has been one of the Grand Prix's most exciting skaters. Her youthful energy and triple-triple vaulted her to medals at every event in her senior debut.

Suzuki has the spirit to stand on any podium, while Ando is the most consistent and always a factor for world podiums. She claimed gold the last time Worlds were in Tokyo in 2007.

And then there's Asada. We expect she will be back to world championship form sometime this season, but when? How many more uncomfortable skates will we have to watch from the Olympic silver medalist?

It will be interesting to see if competing for her national title helps her, or if the pressure and expectations from the home crowd are too much.

The men's competition is equally compelling with world champion Daisuke Takahashi taking on teammates Nobunari Oda and Takahiko Kozuka, who topped him weeks before at the Grand Prix Final.

On any given day, any one of them can win the title. Takahashi is the defending Japanese champ, but after opening the season with a beautiful quad toe at Grand Prix of Japan, he seems to have lost his confidence in the jump.

Oda came out firing at the Final with a quad-triple in the short program, but two fluke falls in the free skate and Patrick Chan of Canada surpassed him for the title. Kozuka was lights out at Grand Prix of France, but if he's not perfect, the performance loses spark.

Not to be overlooked is reigning world junior champion Yuzuru Hanyu. While his seniors should scoop up Japan's three Worlds spots, Hanyu is a talented 15-year-old with an excellent quad. You know a country has the deepest field in the world when the world junior champ will likely be left home.

Our hopes? Everyone skates perfectly and we see how it all shakes out.

Russia

Defending champion Ksenia Makarova will have to use her mature style to boost her above the technical firepower of her juniors, 2009 Russian champ Adelina Sotnikova and last year's bronze medalist Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva.

Sotnikova was just 12 years old when she claimed her first Russian title, and while still age ineligible for senior ISU Championships, could pad the resume with another win at 14. Sotnikova won the junior Grand Prix Final with a triple-triple in both programs, edging out teammate Tuktamysheva, who fell on her triple-triple in the free skate. The two-time Russian medalist is coached by Aleksei Mishin (coach to Yevgeny Plushenko) and just turned 14 on Dec. 17.

What do the two juniors have that Makarova doesn't - consistency on the more difficult triples.

2009 world junior champ Alena Leonova is also in the mix, but struggled on the Grand Prix. To her benefit, both Sotnikova and Tuktamysheva are too young to compete at Worlds, so the color of the medal for Leonova is not as important as finishing in the top two of Worlds eligible competitors.

The other intriguing competition comes in the pairs event. World bronze medalists Yuko Kavaguti and Aleksandr Smirnov are basically a lock for a fourth-straight title. The excitement comes in the expected debut of Tatyana Volosozhar and new partner Maksim Trankov.

Volosozhar formerly skater with her husband and now coach Stanislav Morozov, while Trankov was paired with Maria Mukhortova...who now skates with Frenchman Jerome Blanchard.

We cannot forget the two young Russian teams who qualified for the Final in Lyubov Iliyushechkina & Nodari Maisuradze and Vera Bazarova & Yuri Lariyonov.

Yes - a Russian soap opera will unfold in the pairs event at Nationals. Will it be Olympians with new partners or young, developing teams that get the nod?

Stay tuned for previews of the Canadian and U.S. Championships coming in January.

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Bill508
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PostSubject: Re: Asada searching for National comeback   Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:39 pm

The show down in Nagano should be great. Hoping Mao and all the skaters do well.
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PostSubject: Re: Asada searching for National comeback   Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:38 am

What I like about Mao is her ability to stand out in a situation where there is no turning back. I love her spirit and her athleticism. It was indeed a momentous event for Mao. The nationals was her last ticket to be at the WOLDS ( as I have read). Instead of losing hope, she persevere and what a come back indeed.

cheers
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