One of the legends of her generation, and of all skating generations, Mao Asada announced her retirement today in her blog, citing that a lack of motivation to continue skating. In a sport that often favors short careers, Asada has been one to defy the norms. She is only a handful of skaters who have had such a long and consistently successful career, competing in nine World Championships and two Olympics, with medals in five Worlds and an Olympic silver in 2010.
Last season was a trying one for Asada, who could not regain her consistency after a knee injury kept her from full capacity in her jumps. Her 12th place finish at the 2016-17 Japan Nationals would be the lowest of her career, and it would also mark the first time she failed to make it out of the national championships to the World Championships as an age-eligible competitor.
Asada was one of the successors to Fumie Suguri and Shizuka Arakawa from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was at the top of Japanese skating for a number of years when the depth of the Japanese women was at an all-time high. She will be known both for her longevity and her ability to push the technical boundaries. In 2005, she became only the fifth woman to ever land a triple axel in international competition (after Midori Ito, Tonya Harding, Ludmila Nelidina, and Yukari Nakano). And in 2010 at the Olympics, she became the only woman to ever land three triple axels in one competition.
Her career accolades include:
- 2010 Olympic silver medalist
- Three-time World champion (2008, 2010, 2014) + two other World medals
- Three-time Four Continents champion (2008, 2010, 2013) + three other 4CC medals
- Six-time Japanese champion + five other Japanese medals
- Four-time Grand Prix Final champion + two silvers
- 23 total Grand Prix and Grand Prix Final medals, including 15 gold
- 2005 World junior champion
A look at some of the highlights in her incredible career: