Mao Asada would not be drawn on questions about her Korean rival and defending Olympic champion Kim Yu-na when the Japanese figure skating star arrived in Sochi on Wednesday.
Asada, who finished runner-up to Kim in Vancouver four years ago, requested the throng of Japanese and Korean reporters waiting for her at Sochi International Airport refrain from touching on the subject of her rivalry with Kim.
"I am just as excited as I was [at the start of the] Vancouver Games," she said, smiling for the crowd. "I've done my best over the past four years, so I hope I can return home with a smile."
On Thursday morning, Asada had her first practice session at the Iceberg Skating Palace. Although she told the reporters she is in good form, it seems she still needs time to adjust to the ice there as she fell several times while attempting jumps. Asada will begin competing in the short program of the team competition from Sunday. The team event is debuting this year as an official Olympic sport.
She will then move to Armenia, where the Japanese team is training, and return to Sochi in time for the ladies’ singles competition on Feb. 20 and 21.
Kim, who is scheduled to arrive in Sochi next Wednesday, will be skating in one of the later groups for the short program. Her current world ranking is 29th, and among the 30 figure skaters competing at Sochi, she is placed 15th. This will put her in the third of the five groups. The top 12 are assigned to groups 4 and 5.