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Asada to sit out next season, consider retirement

Three-time world champion says she's '50-50' to return to skating
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Mao Asada isn't saying this is the end of the road for her, but she is quite certain she has competed in her last Olympic Games. -Getty Images

Figure skating will be without its two biggest female stars next season.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday, Mao Asada announced that she will take next season off and then decide whether she wants to return to the sport or retire.

"I worked very hard from Vancouver to Sochi," Asada told the Associated Press. "Now I feel it's time to take a year off and rest. We'll see how I feel after a break. At this point it is 50-50."

Asada's longtime rival, Yu-Na Kim of South Korea, announced her retirement after winning the silver at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. She performed in a series of send-off shows a couple of weeks ago in Seoul.

This past season saw Asada win her fourth Grand Prix Final title and her third world crown. At the world championships in Saitama, Japan, she achieved the highest short program score in history, 78.66.

She placed a disappointing sixth in Sochi, rallying from a devastating 16th-place finish in the short program to come in third in the free skate.

"During a year of rest, I'd like to think hard [about] what I want to do in the future," Asada told the Agence France-Presse, mentioning that she had returned to her studies at Chukyo University.

The Olympic silver medalist in 2010, Asada won her other two world titles in 2008 and 2010. Her trademark has been the triple Axel jump, which she has landed more times in competition than any lady in history.

While she is leaving the door open for a return to the ice, Asada said she likely will not stick around long enough to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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