Image: Shinichi Iizuka
Twenty year-old Mao Asada is the champion of Japan for the fifth time.
Still reeling from the death of her mother a few short weeks ago, Mao has reclaimed the Japanese National skating title and demonstrated why she is one of skating’s brightest stars. Mao pulled out of the ISU Grand Prix Finals in Quebec in early December, the moment she found out her mother’s liver disease was terminal, but couldn’t get back to Japan in time to see her before she died.
On Christmas Day, Mao returned to the ice to honor her mother. Finishing second in both segments of the competition, she skated well under the circumstances. She took out her triple axel but the field was full of errors so she was able to rise to the top. This is one of those times that good things happen to good people. One really has to admire Mao’s resilience. Her heart outshines her immense ability.
Akiko Suzuki won the silver medal and 17 year old Kanako Murakami held on for the bronze.