Mao Asada all set for figure skate gold showdown
Japanese figure skater Mao Asada said Wednesday she was all set for another Olympic showdown with South Korean rival Kim Yu-Na, who beat her for gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Japan's Mao Asada performs during the the ISU figure skating Grand Prix final in Fukuoka, western Japan, on December 7, 2013 - by Toru Yamanaka
"The time has come. That's how I feel," Asada, the 2008 and 2010 world champion, told reporters at Tokyo's Narita airport before leaving for Russia.
"My physical fitness and skating have been very good since the start of the year. I will adjust my condition after arriving in Sochi and go out competing with a positive attitude."
Asada and Kim, both 23 and rivals since their junior days, have vowed to retire from competition after this Olympic season which will culminate with the final free-skate on February 20 at the Sochi Games.
Kim won the world championship in March last year for the second time when Asada finished third.
They have not clashed head-on this season. Kim skipped the Grand Prix series due to a foot injury while Asada triumphed in her two Grand Prix events as well as the Grand Prix Final.
Asada, the only female skater who regularly attempts the triple axel in competition, said she would try the high-scoring but difficult 3.5-revolution jump twice in Sochi -- one in the short programme and one in the long, free-skate.
She earlier said she might attempt three triple axel jumps in Sochi -- one in the short and two in the free.
But she has yet to land a clean triple axel in competition this season, often under-rotating or wobbling on landing to earn limited points for execution.
At Vancouver 2010, Asada became the first woman to land three triple axels in the same competition.
"If I attempt just one triple axel rather than two in the free, it will make the whole programme more balanced," she said. "My idea is changing a little bit."