Farewell, Mao Asada. Farewell and Thank You
さらば 浅田真央。 さらば、そして、ありがとう

April 10, 2017: Mao Asada announces official retirement from competitive skating. In just a couple of sentences on her website, she ends a fruitful career that spanned over 15 years – she won the Japanese novice national championships in the 2002-03 season – and included multiple records and medals: Olympic silver medalist, three-time World champion, three-time Four Continents champion, four-time Grand Prix Final champion, winner of 15 gold medals in the GP circuit, first junior girl to land the triple Axel in international competition, first woman to land three triple Axel jumps in one event, first woman to land two triple Axel jumps in the same program.
2017年4月10日: 浅田真央は競技スケートからの公式な引退を発表した。彼女のウェブサイトの、ほんの2-3の文章で、彼女は15年以上に渡る実り多いキャリアを終えた-彼女は2002-03シーズン全日本ノービス選手権で優勝-複数の記録とメダルを含む: オリンピックの銀メダリスト、3度の世界チャンピオン、3度の四大陸チャンピオン、4度のグランプリ・ファイナル・チャンピオン、グランプリ・サーキットで15個の金メダル、国際大会でトリプル・アクセルを着氷した初めてのジュニア女子、1つの大会で3つのトリプル・アクセルを着氷した初めての女子、同じ(1つの)プログラムの中で2つのトリプル・アクセルを着氷した初めての女子。

But Mao’s journey into the world of skating isn’t defined by jumps, the Axel, the firsts, the records. It’s all defined by artistry, by her unmatched skills and quality of skating. It’s defined by her gliding – „as smooth as cutting butter with a knife warmed in hot water”, as Lori Nichol put it beautifully in an interview for the Japanese media a couple of years ago. It’s defined by the soft movements of her arms in the air – Mao, the butterfly, by her beautiful, trademark spirals, by the intricacy of her step sequences, by her dissolving into the music, any music.

by Florentina Tone

When Mao skated her ritual fire dance in Finlandia Trophy, last October, we didn’t know this was her farewell season. She didn’t know that either – in her beautiful, red dress, with embroidery resembling the flames, Mao was Candelas, the young Andalusian who was dancing to recapture her freedom. She was a bird also, Mao Asada – a mysterious black bird – and both of her programs this season, to Manuel de Falla’s “Danza ritual del fuego”, were tailored to fit her to the fingertips.

But the season didn’t go as Mao wished, or planned.

Second in Espoo, Mao went on by finishing 6th in Skate America and 9th in Paris, in Trophée de France, some of her lowest placements in the Grand Prix circuit. And in December, she was only 12th in the Japanese Nationals, after medaling 11 years in a row and being Japan’s senior champion for six times.

Three months have followed, in which everyone else competed in Europeans, Four Continents and Worlds – while the fans kept on asking: was her injury healed? Did she resume practice? – and then it was this, two weeks after the pre-Olympic Worlds in Helsinki: Mao’s retirement announcement on her website. No fuss, no press conference. Just a short, simple message, in which she stated that her competitive spirit wasn’t there anymore.
その後の3か月、皆が、欧州選手権、四大陸選手権、世界選手権で闘っていた間-ファンは問い続けた: ケガは癒えたのか?彼女は練習には戻ったのか?-そしてヘルシンキでのプレ・オリンピック(オリンピック前年)の世界選手権の2週間後がこれだった: 真央の引退が彼女のウェブサイトで発表された。大騒ぎも無く、記者会見でも無く。ただ、短い、簡潔なメッセージの中で、彼女の闘争心がもうないと述べた。

“I would like to make an announcement.

While it may sound sudden, I, Mao Asada, have decided to end my career as a competitive figure skater.

It is thanks to the support and encouragement of so many people that I have been able to skate for such a long period of time and overcome many things.

I was able to finish the World Championships after the Sochi Olympics with the best performance and result. If I had retired at that time, I might have still wanted to return to competition today. There were many things I would not have known had I not come back as a competitive skater.

After returning to competitive skating, I have experienced increasing struggles because I could not achieve the performances and results that I hoped for. After Japanese Nationals last year, the goal that had been motivating me vanished, and I lost my motivation to continue my competitive career. Despite such a decision, I have no regret with my figure skating life.

This is a big decision for me, but I take it as a stepping stone in my life. I hope to find new dreams and goals, and move forward, with a smile on my face.

Thank you so much for all your support so far”.

But as discreet the message was, as huge was the hype after: shortly after the news broke, social media was literally invaded with memories, gratefulness, photos from Mao’s performances over the years, spontaneous art works (inspired drawings, portraits, or that beautiful collage in which Mao’s white dress from her Chopin’s Ballade no. 1 was re-made of white rose petals), regrets that she decided to step down, but mostly wishes for a happy retirement. Of all those, Mao’s pictures from her emotional free skate in Sochi, at 2010 Olympics, clearly prevailed. And a hashtag was (deservedly) trending: #ThankYouMao.
しかし、メッセージが慎み深い分、その後の騒ぎは巨大だった: そのニュースが発表された直後、ソーシャル・メディアは思い出、感謝、長年にわたる真央の演技の写真、自発的なアートワーク(絵画、肖像画、彼女のショパンのバラード1番の白いドレスがバラの花びらで作り変えられた美しいコラージュ)で文字通り侵略された、彼女の引退の決断を悔やむが、大部分は幸せな引退を望んでいた。真央の感動的なソチのフリー・スケート、2010年のオリンピックが、全ての写真の中で明らかに優勢であった。そして#ThankYouMao(ありがとう真央)のハッシュタグが(当然だが)トレンド(流行)だった。
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