MAO ASADA EXCLUSIVE: Zero chance of competitive comeback
Mao Asada has no intentions of making a return to competition.
"The possibility is truly zero percent." - Mao Asada speaking exclusively to Olympic Channel
The Vancouver 2010 silver medallist is currently travelling around Japan performing her Thanks Tour, a tribute for her fans who have supported her all throughout her career.
The Japanese skater led her country's figure skating scene since her teens with her trademark triple axel. She started skating at the age of 5 and went on to win world championships in 2008, 2010 and 2014. She also became the first woman to land three triple Axel jumps as she claimed silver at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Now, the 28-year-old now seems content with her decision to retire from competition and is enjoying the brand new challenge of delivering about 40 performances in ten cities on tour.
We caught up exclusively with Asada while on tour to talk about life after retirement, coaching and skydiving.
Q: What inspired this Mao Asada Thanks Tour?
After I announced my retirement, there was a show I performed in for 10 years every July and August. And once I was finished performing that show, I thought I would never skate again and I hoped I could show my appreciation towards everyone with that ice show.
But after it was finished, there were many fans who told me they still had not seen me perform. Many people also said they still wanted to see me perform and I personally was trying to figure out what I wanted to do going forward.
I then realised that I could skate to show my appreciation towards the fans and people who supported me for 22 years. That is when I decided to start this Mao Asada Thanks Tour.
Q: What do you miss most about skating competitively?
Since I announced my retirement, I have never, not once, missed neither my life as a competitive skater nor competitions.
Q: Millions of people would like to see you skate for another medal, so when will you make a comeback to competitive skating?
The possibility is truly zero percent. After the Sochi Olympics, I retired once thinking I exhausted all that I had.
But I returned thinking that I could do it again. I devoted all of my skating career to the two seasons after I returned and I exhausted all that I had in me.
So I sincerely don't want to return again and if I put that as a possibility, I think it's zero percent.
Q: In boxing sometimes great champions retire and then they get an amazing offer and then they say, okay, I will try one more time. So what would it take to make you change your mind?
What kind of offers are there in boxing?
Q: They usually get offered lots and lots of money
I don't think there will be such offers in figure skating. And even if there was I don't think I will make a comeback.
Q: Would you consider working as a coach?
Yes, to be a coach….right now it's in a small corner of my mind. But if I were asked if that's what I really want to do right now I would say I don't want to be a serious coach at this moment.
Q: But maybe in the future, many, many years down the road?
Hmm… I don't know…I am still thinking about it.
Q: What will be your advice to young skaters?
I would like them to continue skating without ever forgetting their love of skating.
Q: The young Russian Alexandra Trusova is attempting three quadruple jumps in her program this season. Many critics say figure skating is becoming too much about jumps, what do you say?
The junior level has gotten so much more advanced than in my junior days and I am surprised that it's come to a level that was unimaginable back then.
In figure skating the technical aspect, to do difficult jumps, is important but it should also be combined with expression as I think this increases the allure of figure skating.
But is is a sport after all so I don't think it's a bad thing to challenge various difficult techniques. If the skater can also add expression and be able to skate expressively I think it will become much, much better.
Q: An increasing number of athletes across all sports are starting to work with mental coaches. Do you feel that it might be helpful for young skaters?
Of course as a sport. Especially in figure skating, from my experience, I thought the mental side was very important.
It's a delicate sport and there were times when I wasn't doing well because of psychological issues. So for the upcoming skaters I think it's a good thing to work with psychologists or coaches who specialise in that.
Q: You have changed coaches a few times in your career, can you share what are the advantages of changing a coach?
Among athletes I think I have changed coaches more than others. But by changing a coach I was able to absorb a lot of new things and was also able to go to practice with a different feeling so I think I was able to absorb a lot of things.
Q: Evgeni Plushenko told us that he feels Yuzuru Hanyu is the best male skater ever. Would you agree and what makes Yuzuru so special?
I totally agree! He really is an amazing athlete.
Even in adverse circumstances, he continues to produce results that are far beyond everyone's expectations so I think he's an amazing skater.
He's already made all kinds of history and even after winning two Olympics he said in an interview that he will continue to compete and to attempt challenging new jumps.
So I think he will continue to make the kind of history that will go beyond our expectations.
Q: You have worked as a TV commentator, as a DJ, ran a marathon, what is next on your bucket list?
This Thanks Tour is different from previous shows. It's a completely new ice show so I think of it as a really new challenge.
I would like to continue taking on challenges so if there is something new to try, I would like it to challenge me..
In a typical ice show I would skate, at most, two solos. But in this Thanks Tour there are eight songs I skate to. So that number alone is a new challenge.
Also, even though I have performed to all these songs in the past, I now skate alongside with my cast. It's essentially a new show. It's a show that I thought of and created from scratch. So I see this Mao Asada Thanks Tour as a new challenge.
Q: Getting back to the marathon. You ran the Honolulu Marathon, what's next? Bungee jumping?
I've already done bungee jumping.
Q: So how about skydiving?
I do want to try skydiving.
Q: Would you say you're an adrenaline junkie?
Yes I think so. To be nervous or to get excited is similar to a competition. I don't want to be in a figure skating competition anymore but I do want to take on challenges that pushes me and gives me a sense of accomplishment and I like feeling that way.
Q: If you were to compete at the Summer Olympic Games, which sport will you choose?
What jumped in my mind right now is tennis. I watch tennis a lot, it's a recent thing and I want to try it.
I've watched Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori play so I thought I would like to try it.