Transcript of Japan Skates' interview with Mao Asada at Skate Canada, November 3.

By Mark S., (c) Japan Skates 2007.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

The first thing Gigi and I did after arriving at the Colisee Pepsi on Thursday, November 1 was to request interviews with the Japanese team.  As members of the press, we had the right to ask for the interviews, but needed the Japanese delegation's approval of course.  The next day, I was informed that the Japanese delegation had consented to them, and that they would take place all together on Saturday evening, after the ladies free skate and before the gala exhibition rehearsal.  We would be limited to 15 minutes each (including photos and autographs) for Yukari and Nana, and about 10 minutes for the ever-in-demand Mao.  We happily pared down the prepared interview questions to the most important ones, and looked forward to meeting the ladies.

Interviewing Mao Asada has been on our list of priorities ever since Gregg and I started the site.  Following Mao's dominant performance at the World Juniors in 2005, we knew that any site we started would feature her prominently.  We secured permission from her agents to interview her a few months ago, and hoped that an opportunity would present itself.  Since we only had a few minutes to spend with her at Skate Canada, I skipped some questions that had been asked earlier that day at the press conference about her performance and about her reaction to the California wildfires, which had forced her to move from her home in California and change training facilities.  I have included those questions and answers at the beginning of the transcript.

Although Mao speaks fairly good English from her time in California, she still wanted to use Akiko as her interpreter.  She was ribbed a bit by her chaperone for not trying to hold the interview in English!  I've put Mao's words in italics when she speaks through Akiko and in regular type when she speaks in English herself.

JS:  Japan Skates
MA:  Mao Asada

Press Conference:  Mao was asked to make a statement about her performance in the free skate.

MA:  Tonight, I was able to perform the program I was hoping for from the beginning.  Overall, it was a big competition.  Skate Canada was very important for me to skate in front of the panel and deal with the pressure, and I felt quite a bit of pressure when I ended up in third place in the short program.  Listen to Mao (Japanese only)

Press conference:  Mao was asked to comment  on the "callers" (technical specialists) at the Grand Prix events who are routinely downgrading triple jumps to doubles or, in Mao's case in the short program, reclassifying Lutzes to flips.

MA:  That's right, my Lutz got a deduction for the edge, but I think at this point it would be too difficult for me to correct it now...but once the season is over I would like to work on it.  Listen to Mao (Japanese only)

Reported by Laurie Nealin for IceNetwork:  Mao was asked about the wildfires in California.

MA:  I was very afraid.  I had trouble concentrating in California, but it was OK once I was in Toronto.

Mao was asked by Canadian TV what she liked most about her exhibition program, "So Deep Is The Night".

MA:  This program has a story, that's why I like it so much.

JS:  Thank you Mao for doing the interview.  Congratulations.

MA:  Thank you very much!

JS:  I'd like to ask you about your training in California.  How has working with Rafael helped you?  You also train with Jeff Buttle and your sister!

MA:  I really like working with Rafael because he pushes really hard and the practice is going very well.  Jeff only comes in from time to time, during the summer, but I feel that it's always helpful to train with a better skater than I am, so I feel fortunate.  Listen to Mao

JS:  You live in California now.  How is your English?  And how do you handle school while there?

MA:  I have conversations with my trainer in English slowly bit by bit!  (laughs)   As for school, I don't go to school in California.  My school (in Japan) sends me the assignments.

JS:  Are you going to do a triple Axel again this year, or a quadruple jump?

MA:  I won't be doing the quad, but the triple Axel, yes.

JS:  What are you working to improve specifically?

MA:  I practiced the step sequences a lot, especially in the short program, but I was unable to show it in the performance here.  That is one thing I'd like to work on.

JS:  You're so much taller now.  Has that affected you at all?

MA:  No, not at all! (giggles)

JS:  Mao, you attract a great deal of attention from fans and from the media.  How do you deal with all the media attention?

MA:  When I'm surrounded by so many people, sometimes it motivates me.  Sometimes it makes me nervous.  But I feel really fortunate that I get so much support.

JS:  Do you feel that there is a lot expectation for you?  From coaches, from the Federation, from the fans?

MA:  I don't necessarily feel pressure.  But I do feel that I'm supported a lot.

JS:  Back in April, you came to Toronto.  You were involved in some ambassador duties for a time for Canada.  Can you tell me about that?

MA:  I was an ambassador and went to the baseball game.  But mainly I was there to work with Stars on Ice.

JS:  Do you have a career highlight or favourite performance so far?

MA:  Nationals!  Two years ago.  I landed two triple Axels.

JS:  Mao, do you have a message for all your fans at Japan Skates?

MA:  The new season just started and I'm hoping to show a lot of good performances.  Hopefully the fans will keep supporting me.  Listen to Mao

After this, we thanked Mao and had her sign autographs for us and the site, and we presented her with the official Japan Skates T-shirt and baseball cap.   She really got a kick out of some photos we gave her as a gift, taken at the 05 World Juniors in Kitchener.  She was so small back then!  Following our interview, Mao walked out of the press room and into the mix zone, where there was an army of cameras and microphones from Japanese press waiting for her!

We appreciate the time that all three skaters gave us, and we thank their delegation for squeezing the interviews in at such a busy time.  Gigi and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Skate Canada and our first experience with being members of the credentialled media at a Grand Prix event.


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