25. Mao Asada JPN
2016-17 Japan Nationals short program and free skate
We all know now that 2016-17 would end up being the final season for the legendary Mao Asada. Choreographically, this season was an experimental one for her - she stepped outside her comfort zone of elegant, lyrical programs and she avoided warhorse pieces of music. Her two programs were designed to be two acts of of a complete program. And as the season progressed, the programs came alive.
Related: A look back at Mao Asada's career
Strip away the errors and you really could see a masterpiece in the making. But because these programs were never skated completely cleanly (only the technically watered down version of the short was), we never got to experience the full, awesome power that the choreography and concept promised to deliver.
Perhaps we expect too much from a skater who has so consistently provided us with some of the great programs of the past decade. But here at Japan Nationals, she fought through in what would be her final free skate and put everything out there - going forthe triple axel and triple flip-triple loop, and hey, putting down a clean, true triple lutz.
In the end, it was only fitting that our final impression of Asada on competitive ice was her step sequence, something she does better than almost every skater in the world.
Once more - thank you, Mao.