Is Mao Asada looking at a coaching change?
Mao Asada’s troubles in Paris have followed her to Moscow.
After skating to a disappointing second place at last weekend’s Trophee Bompard, Asada came to Moscow looking for redemption. So far, she hasn’t found it.
Asada’s biggest hurdle to overcome today was the popped triple axel that marred her performance seven days ago. Unfortunately, today’s short program played out almost identically to last week’s. Asada, this time in a new dress, opened her program by once again popping out of her triple axel. While she was able to rebound and complete her remaining elements with polish and ease, Asada’s mistake on her axel proved costly. The 2008 world champion is currently sitting in 6th place.
Although Asada has never been an extremely consistent competitor, her performances at recent events have fallen below average for her. Part of the reason behind this may be because her coach, Tatiana Tarasova, has decided that Asada’s golden ticket this season is her triple axel and has added the axel to Asada’s short program. The truth is, Asada’s axel is no where near the level of consistency needed for success in a short program.
Tarasova is an extremely accomplished coach and appears to be a strong motivator who truly cares about her students. But, Tarasova is best known as a dance coach, not a technical coach, and at times her star can overpower her student’s. While watching Tarasova on warmup, it seems as if she’s resorted to willing Asada to land her axel, which obviously isn’t going to work, and having Asada attempt the axel in her short amounts to sacrificing the gold at every event she tries it in.
Asada’s recent troubles are incredibly disheartening because she is one of the most talented skaters in history. Her spins, stroking, spirals, and footwork are well above the field in Moscow. Because of these strengths, Asada is only six points out of the lead, keeping her in contention for tomorrow‘s long program. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that her confidence may be shot after today‘s skate, and tomorrow won‘t yield the results she and Tarasova are hoping for.
Once this event is over, Asada needs to seriously reassess her coaching situation. While I wouldn’t normally recommend a skater switch coaches mid-season–especially during an Olympic season–Asada has proven that she does more than okay after a coaching change and even without a coach by her side. When Asada won her world title, she did what Michelle Kwan tried in 2002: She coached herself to victory. This season, however, I don’t see the self-coaching method working for her, and if Asada chooses to leave Tarasova, she will need a technically-sound coach to help her through the remaining months.
As it stands now, it appears there’s a major problem, and having Asada try the axel today was a bad coaching decision. Tarasova may have had the winning formula for many past champions, but that formula isn’t working for Asada.