Irrelevant Information

Apr 14, 2017


Mao Asada announced her retirement from competitive figure skating earlier this week. By this point, thousands of fans have undoubtedly re-watched and ruminated over Ms. Asada's most indelible performances--her 2014 Olympics LP to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, for instance, or her two short programs to Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2 in E-flat major. No doubt there have also been much reminiscing over Ms. Asada's determination and perseverance in completely over-hauling her jump technique, her never-ending quest to perfect her triple axel, and her humility and grace in the face of injuries, personal grief, and the vagaries of uneven tech panel calling.

For me, I have little to add to what has already been said about one of the leading icons of ladies figure skating for the past decade. All I want to share is a little-known Mao Asada performance that happens to be one of my favorite performances of all time: Mao Asada's exhibition skates at the 2010-2011 Japanese Nationals. Ms. Asada begins with a gorgeous performance to Chopin's Ballade No. 1, a superb pairing of styles that can plausibly be likened to pairing caviar with champagne. But there is also dessert for those who wait: less than a minute after finishing Ballade No. 1, Ms. Asada skates her encore, the final part of the original incarnation of her Liebestraum long program. With less pressure and fresh(er) legs than usually seen in competition, we can finally enjoy Mao Asada skate to Liebestraum the way it was meant to be skated to: with both sweeping romanticism and ethereal lightness, yes, but above all, with also an open and palpable love for skating.


  1. Thanks for sharing this.
    Mao's retirement means the end of the era to me.
    I would have to get used to the feeling of loss from next season.
    So sad that she was not able to skate this season's EX in all the competitions she participated. Cero Suite is also a program that only Mao can skate.

    Skater has got irreparable injury when he/she got matured in artistic side.
    Wishing ISU's new judge system will work good for skaters.

    In that era Mao, Daisuke and many skaters sowed seeds in the field.
    Now in Japan many seeds have just come into sprouts.
    Next year or few years later, some of them will bloom to great bright flowers.

  2. Thanks for this tribute to Mao. This is also my favorite performance from her. I also want to thank you for keeping a video of this magical performance because I've lost count of the number of times I've watched it. I have a small request. Can you please repost your original review of her Ballade number? The old link does not exist sadly. I remember it was so spot on and made me realize for the first time what a masterpiece it was as a program.

    P.S. Thanks for still keeping my site on your links page. Yes, it is defunct...I haven't updated in ages. ><

  3. Mao's performance, be it competitive programs or exhibitions, always moves us. She wears her heart on her sleeves. She is unforgettable. Thanks for your tribute to Mao. Thanks for loving Mao so much, Morozombie.

  4. @Anonymous
    When you refer to "many seeds," I'm assuming one of them is Marin Honda :)

    @ Sana's Garden
    Unfortunately, I can't find my original review of this Ballade exhibition--it may have accidentally been deleted during the various times in which I've tinkered with this blog's layout over the years :'( Anyway, you should update your blog! We can never have too many figure skating bloggers . . .

    1. That is unfortunate. :(

      It's hard maintaining a blog! Kudos to your longevity as a blogger. :)

      However... I do feel motivated to write a review of Mao's Ritual Dance, which I think are the best programs Lori ever made for her. Sadly, we will never get to see them skated their potential.

      Due to frustration with how IJS has affected ladies skating, my former favorite discipline, I am also tempted to do a "great programs" retrospective on the golden age of ladies figure skating (aka 1990s). Hopefully, I have the time and patience to start and finish this project. ;)

  5. @Anonymous at 12:22AM
    Mao Asada is a difficult skater to not love :)