Miki Ando 'Can Beat Kim Yu-na' in Vancouver

      February 04, 2010 08:56

      Good coaches know that mental preparation is just as important to winning as physical training, so it is Nikolai Morozov's duty to convince his student Miki Ando of Japan that she can win the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics.

      "Miki can beat Kim Yu-na," Morozov said in an interview with U.S. figure skating website Icenetwork.com on Wednesday. "She beat her in the short at the Grand Prix Final. She lost the free by a few points." He added, "They [Ando, Kim, and Mao Asada] all have a chance; it depends on the preparation; it depends on who is healthy, if it all comes together on the day."

      Miki Ando /Yonhap

      Morozov is currently coaching Ando in Simsbury, Connecticut, at the same Olympic-sized rink where he helped legendary Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova train 2002 Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin of Russia. It is also where he coached 2006 Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa.

      Morozov and Ando will move to Vancouver on Feb. 14. They are considering making changes to her jumps after observing her condition and other skaters. If necessary, Ando will play it safe by lowering the level of difficulty of her jumps. The pressing issue is not to fall massively behind in the short program, where Kim has shown formidable dominance throughout the season.

      Despite coming in fourth at the Japanese Championships in December, the competition was a helpful experience. "For my short program [to Mozart's 'Requiem'], it was great. I feel much better about my short program now," Ando said. She's trying not to think too much about the Olympics. "I just want to be there in good shape and skating great."

      Meanwhile, Asada, who is doing last-minute training in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, is also practicing a backup program composed of different jumps, which she will need to execute if she fails to nail her trademark triple axel.

      Although she can rack up massive points when she lands the jump successfully -- it has a base value of 8.2 points -- she often gets downgraded for under-rotation. Asada plans to do a triple axel once in the short program, and twice in the free skate, including one time in a combination.

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