October 26, 2009 10:56
Mao Asada is in trouble. The iconic Japanese figure skater, seen as one of the closest rivals of Korea's Kim Yu-na, had a disastrous performance in the second Grand Prix event of the season on Sunday, missing two triple axels and earning just 98.34 points in the free program of the Rostelecom Cup of Russia in Moscow.
Asada finished fifth overall with a combined score of 150.28 points, including 51.94 in the short program. It is her worst-ever score in a senior international event, and the first time she failed to earn over 100 points in a free skate.
With only 20 points for the season ranking in two Grand Prix events, Asada's chances of clinching a berth at the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo in December now seem dim as the usual cutoff point is 24 points. She may even be denied an opportunity to compete in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February as the Japan Skating Federation has decided to distribute three spots on the Olympic team based on the results of the Grand Prix Final.
After checking her score with a grim look on Sunday, Asada said, "There's nothing wrong with my physical condition. I just had problems with the jumps. I have to try and get control of myself mentally."
First place went to Japan's Miki Ando, who had been in third place after the short program. Ando offered a stable free skate performance to earn 114.75 points, winning the event with a combined score of 171.93 points.
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