Japanese figure skater Mao Asada powered back yesterday to win her second World Figure Skating Championship in Turin, Italy, as she finished with a combined score of 197.58—6.80 points ahead of Kim Yu-Na. Dubbed the queen of the triple axel, Asada performed her signature jump four times and delivered a near-flawless program in the wake of rival Kim Yu-Na’s error-ridden short program and free skate.
Asada, who has struggled with landing her triple axel all season due to growth spurts and lack of confidence, expressed surprise at her victory as she said, “I didn’t think I would be sitting here. I had to continue and challenge and push myself. And I guess that is what led to today’s results.”
In more ways than one, the World Championships felt like a replay of the Winter Olympics—with reverse results. Asada and Kim both performed the same short programs and free skates as they did in the Olympics. Asada’s performance was dramatic and exciting, replete with complicated footwork, awe-inspiring jumps and fiery artistry. After looking visibly disappointed with her silver medal finish in Vancouver, Asada came back to prove to herself and critics around the world that she was indeed capable of delivering a gold-medal performance.
To the shock and disbelief of many, Kim’s performance on Sunday was fraught with mistakes. In the short program, the Olympic champion under-rotated a layback spin and could not hold her skate during the spiral sequence. In the free skate, Kim slipped on the ice after falling on a triple salchow and failing to turn a double axel.
According to The Korea Times, Kim expressed the difficulty in staying on top as she told reporters, “I didn’t know it would be so difficult after the Olympics. I dreaded the thought that I would perform poorly as an Olympic champion.” Though she got second place, she can finally go home and relax now. “I would like to meet my friends and eat as much as I want. Don’t make fun of me if I gain weight,” she said laughing.
Meanwhile, American figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who finished fourth in the Winter Olympics, fell below expectations with a seventh place finish.
“I am really disappointed with myself because I always do this, I always go from first to like seventh,” Nagasu said, sniffing through tears. “Except at the Olympics. I didn’t drop there.”
After a highly competitive and stressful year, it’s good to see the season come to a close with each of these competitors having a moment whether it was at the Olympics or the World Championships.