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Japan figure skaters reset for worlds Asada hints at retirement rethink

TOKYO, Feb 25, (AFP): Japan’s figure skaters vowed Tuesday to shine at home during next month’s world championships with newly crowned Olympic men’s champion Yuzuru Hanyu raring to put his skates back on and Mao Asada hinting at a retirement rethink. “I don’t have anything in particular,” 19-year-old Hanyu said when asked about what he wanted to do, hours after his return home from the Sochi Winter Games. “I wish to start training as soon as possible and work hard toward the world championships,” added Hanyu, who beat three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada for gold to become the first Olympic men’s figure skating champion from Asia.

“I want to devote myself to day-to-day work no matter what and win the gold at the world championships in front of me, first of all.” “It will be great if I can become a person worthy of being an Olympic champion.” Asada, the 2010 Vancouver Olympic women’s silver medallist, who came away from Sochi without a gong after a disastrous short programme, said she was “50-50” on deciding whether to continue her professional career after the season-closing worlds, which are set for March 26-30 at Saitama, north of Tokyo. She had previously said last year she might retire from competition after the Olympic season.
“First of all, I will try to straighten both my short and free programmes for the world championships,” she said.

After the world championships she will appear in ice shows in Japan. “I will skate with thanks for people around the country. I will then think about it with a calm frame of mind.” But asked about her chance of competing next season, she replied: “50-50 now.” South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na ended her competitive career in Sochi after losing her Olympic women’s title to Russian teenager Adelina Sotnikova, who is expected to go for a golden double in Japan. Hanyu’s was the only gold won by Japan in Sochi although they had aimed to exceed their best-ever haul of 10 Winter Olympic medals, including five golds, which they bagged when they hosted the 1998 Games in Nagano.


Japan got one gold, four silver and three bronze medals for a total of eight. Domestic sports chiefs and media, however, emphasised the total was Japan’s best-ever at an overseas Winter Games.
Asada, who finished runner-up to Kim at the 2010 Vancouver Games, battled back from a meltdown in the short programme to score her personal best in the free skate and finish sixth overall in Sochi.
She fell on her trademark triple axel and botched other jumps to place 16th in the short.
But the 2008 and 2010 world champion nailed the 3.5-revolution axel and landed all kinds of triple jumps to score the third best result in the final free-skate to finish sixth overall.
The resurgence moved her to tears and touched figure skating greats and fans around the world.
Asada’s disappointment followed a shock defeat of Japan’s best gold medal hope Sara Takanashi, the overwhelming World Cup leader, in the inaugural Olympic women’s ski-jumping. The 17-year-old finished fourth.





 

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