Japan's Asada announces competitive retirementThree-time world champ struggled with consistency throughout the season
Three-time world champion and 2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada announced on her official blog Monday that she is retiring from competition.
"It is a sudden announcement, but I, Mao Asada, have made a decision to end my competitive career as a figure skater," Asada wrote. "Thanks to the support and encouragement from many, I have been able to enjoy a long skating life and to overcome many difficulties."
Following a sixth-place finish at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia -- where she came in third in the free skate with an inspired performance -- Asada opted to sit out the 2014-15 season. She came back the following year and did admirably, winning one of her Grand Prix events, qualifying for the Grand Prix Final, finishing third at her country's national championships and placing seventh at worlds.
But she struggled mightily this past season, failing to medal at either of her Grand Prix events and finishing a lowly 12th at Japanese nationals. With the placements of Mai Mihara (fifth) and Wakaba Higuchi (11th) at this year's world championships, Japan has just two ladies spots at next year's Olympics.
"After I came back to competition, I wasn't able to pull off the performance and achieve the result that I expected, and I started to worry more," she wrote. "When I finished the last Japanese nationals, the goal that had been motivating me disappeared, and I lost the energy to continue my competitive career."
Asada is the most decorated skater in Japan's history, and arguably its most popular. She captured world titles in 2008, 2010 and 2014, finished second at the Vancouver Olympics behind Yu-Na Kim, and won the Grand Prix Final four times. She was a pioneer in the area of jumping, with her signature aerial act being the triple axel. She is the only woman to land three triple axels in one competition, doing so at the 2010 Olympic Games.
Asada made no indication as to what her next step will be, writing, "Although I made such a decision, there is absolutely no regret in my skating life. It is a big decision for me, but I take it as a milestone of my life. Moving forward, I will find my new dream and goal, I will keep smiling, and I will keep moving on."
Special thanks to Wei Xiong, who helped translate sections of Asada's blog for this article.