After a disastrous short program yesterday for Japan's Mao Asada no one was quite sure what to expect from her today, Feb. 20. It was reported that she had a rough practice this morning looking defeated and overwhelmed, but that is not how she chose to end her story.
Mao was full of emotion after her short program, falling all the way to 16th place. Asada was considered a frontrunner for the gold medal at these Olympic Games, but after falling on her triple axel and doubling her planned triple loop it soon became clear that her dream had turned into a nightmare. Japanese officials even criticized Mao after her performance last night, so no doubt she felt the pressure of the naysayers and the weight of the nation on her shoulders.
But today was a new day and she came out swinging. Landing the cleanest triple axel we have seen from her this season, and landing a triple flip-triple loop combination she was phenomenal. She nailed each of her jumping passes and skated with everything that was in her.
It was absolutely an awe-inspiring moment, as she broke down as soon as she finished her skate. To see an athlete come back after such a heartbreaking performance, was a true display of the Olympic spirit. She may not medal in these Olympic Games, but she will be going out as a true champion.
As Dick Button said in a tweet to Mao moments before she took to the ice, "Sometimes a bad placement or other roadblock will release all tension, resulting in a best ever performance." And that's exactly what happened for Mao Asada.