sobota, stycznia 08, 2011

babbling about figure skating

A couple years ago someone said to me that if something is a question of systematic training (even possibly hard) it is fairly likely that Japanese people will go for it and among them there will be the one who will eventually achieve the goal. Since then I haven't been thinking too much about what kind of origins this theory might have and why it was presented to me in a first place. Actually I don't know any Japanese people in person to somehow verify this theory but observing Mao Asada's career I have started truly to believe in it.

For those who haven't heard about Mao Asada, she is a Japanese figure skater (an incredibly accomplished one, considering her age), the reigning World Champion, who holds a Guinness World Record for "the most triple axels performed in a competition". Currently she is the only female skater who performs a triple axel jump (the most difficult triple jump, which requires three and a half rotations in the air) on a regular basis.

However this season it appears that she is somewhere halfway to what she's heading for. She decided to completely change the technique of her jumps in order to carry them out in an error-free way and thanks to that getting full credit for executing every single one of them.  Changing the technique of jumps, as a mature figure skater, is like learning how to skate from scratch basically. And it really looked like that at the beginning of this season. Her two appearances in Grand Prix Series - I was eyewitness of one of them in Paris in November - were tiresome to watch. She kept falling with almost the same consistency as she had previously nailed the jumps. In consequence she was being ranked far below her usual placement. It's hard to imagine how difficult it was (or at least should have been) for her. Nevertheless she acted all the time like someone fixing on a certain point in the future (probably the next Olympics) with a great belief that what's happening now is what's needed to reach the spot. What is also very important in her case is that she never plays safely and certainly she never plays conservatively either in the sense she does not calculate always trying to deliver her best performance.

Now we are just after the Japan Nationals - the competition which has (at least when it comes to the ladies) probably the highest technical level among all figure skating competitions throughout the year (including the World Championships) giving each year lately up to five names of competitors who can be easily medaled at any international event. But the rules are fair and harsh at the same time because each country is allowed to send up to three skaters to that kind of event, which means that there is no room for all Japanese talents.

Under the circumstances Mao Asada was being considered as the one to stay at home this year whereas in spite of all expectations she executed two solid performances good enough to get one of three spots for Worlds. And this is definitely not the end of the story because she is definitely still on her self-improvement track. What a great mixture of determination and motivation mixed in a "golden proportions" (hopefully;-) I wonder if the Japanese diet has something to do with it;-)

I'm attaching the video with her long programme from the last Worlds that somehow shows the power of the mixture I've mentioned in the article. The performance has a really great and suitable music as the background but she would be well advised to change her costume designer as well:-P

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