Mao Asada (born September 25, 1990) is a figure skater from Japan. She is a former World Figure Skating Champion (2008) and is ranked no. 3 by ISU. She won the Japanese national championships in 2007 and 2008 after winning two silver medals in a row. She is the 2005 World Junior Champion. She won the silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Her older sister Mai Asada is also a high-level skater.
Asada was a child prodigy. She landed her first triple axel in competition while still at the junior level. She is one of five female figure skaters who have ever landed that jump in international competition.
Asada won won everything on the Junior level in the 2004-2005 season. The next season was the Olympic season. Asada would be too young to compete at the 2006 Olympics. But the Japanese skating federation thought there was not a good reason to keep her at the Junior level when she had already won everything. Asada was old enough for the Grand Prix, but not for senior level ISU championships. Asada went into the Grand Prix without any of the pressure that was on the other skaters who were old enough to go the Olympics and were trying to qualify for spots on their country's Olympic team. Able to compete without pressure, Asada won the Grand Prix Final in December 2005.
Following her win, the Japanese skating federation petitioned the International Olympic Committee to make an exception to the age rule for Asada, claiming that depriving her of a chance to compete at the 2006 Olympics would be denying a medal contender a chance to compete. However, this petition, even if it had worked, would have been too late. Other skaters had been effected by the age rule. The South Korean skating federation, for example, held Kim Yu-Na back in juniors for the 2005-2006 season, even though she could have competed successfully on the Grand Prix, because she also was not old enough for the Olympics, and because of it did not earn a spot to the Olympics at the Olympic Qualifying Competition in the fall of 2005. Asada had been a force in Japanese skating for many years, so the federation could have petitioned for an exception years earlier. There had previously been a loophole in eligibility rules regarding the World Championships and medalling at the World Junior Championships, but that loophole had been closed years earlier, and it had never applied to the Olympics.
Instead, Asada went to the World Junior Championships again, where she lost to Kim Yu-Na.
In 2006-2007, Asada's first season being old enough for senior Worlds, she won the silver medal at the World Championships behind fellow Japanese skater Miki Ando.
Mao Asada is known for her amazing flexibility. She is known for her one-handed Biellmann spin and her cross-grab Biellmann spiral, in which she uses the hand opposite her leg to hold up her leg in the position. She is consistent with the triple axel.
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