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 Asada Mao -- Sixteen

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Caliblue



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PostSubject: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:54 pm

"Asada Mao -- Sixteen" was written by Mao's family friend who had known her since she was little. As such, it contains private conversations and exchanges of thoughts that are not usually possible between a subject and a writer. As time permits, i'd like to translate some excerpts from the book.

Mao's daily life

Mao normally gets up at 8am. She typically has a small pancake, orange juice, seasonal fruits, and yogurt for breakfast. Right after breakfast, she goes to the gym to warm up for about 30 minutes. She then goes to the rink to take two 45-minute sessions. After the sessions, she takes a short break, followed by two more 45-minute sessions. She goes home around 2pm to have lunch. Typically, it's simple Japanese dishes such as steamed rice, miso soup, an omlet, and pickled vegetables. Mao then spends some time studying -- either assignments from her school in Japan or English lessons. At 5:30pm, she takes two more sessions at the rink, then goes to the gym to cool down.

She gets home between 8 and 9pm. Dinner is a very lively event at the Asada's. "After dinner, I normally study for another hour, take a bath, do some stretching exercises, and go to sleep aroudn midnight. But, sometimes, we forget about time and talk for up to 3 hours!" Mao says. "What do you talk about?" "Nothing special. Mom talks about how things were when we were little. And Mai and I go, 'that's right -- I remember that.' We sometimes talk about Aero -- how she must be doing. It makes me miss her even more if we talk about her, but I can't help talking about her. About Dad? Nooo, we don't talk about him that much." Mao bursts out laughing.

The daily routine is repeated Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, Mao takes fewer sessions, and she only takes morning sessions on Sundays. However, this does not mean that she works any less on the weekend. When she is not taking skating sessions, she does weight training at the gym with a trainer.
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:25 pm

About the 2006-2007 LP

Mao and her Mom wanted her 2006-2007 programs to be very different from each other. If the SP was slow music, then the LP should be fast. This was meant to maximize Mao's learning opportunities. They also wanted the programs to be more mature than Mao's previous ones.

Based on these requests, Lori Nichol selected 7-8 hours' worth of music. There were so many different pieces that Mao didn't even know which ones she liked in the end. However, she managed to pick several candidates and Lori decided on Czardas.

Lori's choreography didn't include the bracket entry into 3 axel. It was added later by Arutunian and Mao 'based on their discussion.' Up until then, Mao's 3 axel had been perfect. Arutunian felt that Mao should aim for a higher level of difficulty. Why not make the entry more difficult like she does for other jumps? Arutunian told Mao that he believed she could do it. Mao: "I can't remember when I started practicing it. It was some time after summer. We completed the program much later than usual. Perhaps at the end of August? I can't really remember -- I always forget about things like dates and how I did in competitions..."

Day after day, Mao started practicing a bracket entry into 2 axel. "It probably took me about two weeks to master the [bracket entry into] 2 axel. Actually, it didn't take two weeks. Then, I started practicing the [bracket entry into] 3 axel." Mao does not remember how long it took for her to master it. However, she remembers that Arutunian one day came to her and nonchalantly said, "you'll do it very soon." Mao had her first successful try soon after that.
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:23 pm

The Tall Bridge

***In what follows, 'I' refers to the author.***

When Mao and I discussed 2006 Skate America, I told her, "It's normal to have anxious moments. Particularly because you tend to become very sensitive during the teenage years."

Mao and I share an omlet stuffed with rice followed by some fruits. During dinner, Mao stares at TV without watching it. It's a nondescript variety show.

Mao begins, "I really thought about it long and hard." She points the remote at TV and lowers the volume all the way down. "Because I didn't do well twice in a row starting with Campbell, I really tried to figure it out." "Figure what out?" "First of all, why I didn't do well. And then, I thought I couldn't repeat the same mistake twice. After that, I just trained and trained. I really gave it my all."

What she has said so far was not so different from what she normally says. She always gives her all when she trains -- this didn't start with Campbell. However, I am surprised by what follows.

Mao continues using her own unique diction. It's a long story. "I know why I can't jump. But, I still can't do it even though I know the reason." Mao says the reason is because "[it feels as though] her legs are in the air and she can't feel any strengh in them." It's not as though she's injured or tired, but her legs become "stiff and immobilized." "Why?" I ask. Without emotions, Mao describes the situation as if she is narrating an indisputable fact. "I think I get nervous. When I'm in a competition, I see a bridge in my mind. It's a very tall and narrow bridge. It's as if I was crossing the bridge. And i go 'wooooow.'"

I: "Can you paraphrase that 'wooooow'?"
M: "Hmmm, it's like my skin is crawling."
I: "You mean you get goose bumps?"
M: "Not really. It's as though soda is spilled on my skin."
I: "So, that's the sensation you get when you are crossing the bridge? How high is the bridge?"
M: "About as high as this hotel room. Perhaps even higher."
The hotel room is on the 7th floor.

Mao is not certain about the width of the bridge -- it's wider than a pencil, but narrower than a log. It's wide enough for the blade. However, Mao is not wearing skates when she stands in front of the bridge. The bridge is slick and translucent. Mao does not get the sensation of falling from it. Rather, she floats in the air. Her body becomes stiff and she can't move. She's in the air, but the body feels heavy.

M: "I like rollercoasters, but this bridge is difficult to deal with. I guess I'm not focusing well because I don't see the bridge when I'm not nervous." Mao fought with the bridge during her two competitions in the U.S.
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:39 pm

Caliblue, thank you very much! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Wed Nov 07, 2007 5:14 am

Thanks a lot!!!!
Does the book is in English or in japanese?
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:14 am

Very interesting, thanks so much! Worship
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:07 am

Thank you Caliblue! flower

Mao described the bridge so suggestively that I suddenly started feeling anxious too. pale I'm very afraid of high places... Whirly

Bibi: I think it's in Japanese only. I found a scan of a page or two somewhere and it was in Japanese.
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Fri Nov 16, 2007 9:19 pm

The Tall Bridge (part 2)

((The following hints at what Mao must be going through. I'm translating this with a firm belief that Mao will overcome the bridge some day. ))

Mao: "It's not just this season. I saw the bridge last year, too. Even when I went against Irina in the GP Final that I won."

However, Mao was able to control it then. Campbell and SA were very different from last year. Mao found it difficult to breath before her performances and her mind went blank while competing. I told Mao how I admired her for going for the 3 axel under such circumstances. Mao seemed a bit surprised to hear that. She responded "you do?" and giggled with embarassment.

Last season, Mao was jumping for herself. She wanted to land them - that's all she could think about. Even when she saw the bridge, it didn't affect her performances. She was able to overcome it.

Mao: "Everything went so well last year. It was so unexpected. But, the true me is different from that. I always make mistakes in competitions, almost every time. It's been that way since I was little. This season, my feelings have changed to 'I want to win.' So many people are rooting for me and watching my performances. I can't fail. I have to land my jumps. This put me in a competition mode all the time. Perhaps, that made me fatigued even before the competitions started."

Mao is aware of weakness within her -- another side of Mao that is usually hidden.

Then we had the following conversation:
I: Everyone gets nervous. Everyone encounters their 'bridge' at one point or other. I'd be surprised if you didn't get nervous in the big arena where everyone is watching you. It's normal to have tight legs and to find it difficult to breath. It's pefectly alright. You are not mentally weak.
M: Do you think so?
I: Yes, I'm certain.


Last edited by on Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:50 pm

2007 Worlds -- Short Program

March 21 (two days before the ladies' competition)
Mao didn't look like an athlete about to compete in the World championships. She was always humming and had a smile on her face.

Mao: I'm looking forward to it because this is my first Worlds! But, it's a long wait since Ladies' competition is the last one.

During the wait, Mao talked a lot, laughed a lot, and slept well. She practiced every day. When the rink was not available, she jogged around the hotel and went to the gym at night.

Mao: I want to enjoy the atmosphere [of the Worlds.] I've been excited for a long time. It's such a special experience. It's difficult to have fun during the competition, but it's fun before the competition. Ever since I came back to Japan, I've been enjoying myself every day. I really missed Japan!

Mao says that she realized how much she missed it while she was away. We go out for lunch. Mao orders a steak combination lunch at a Japanese restaurant... I ask her what she thinks it must be like to win a World championship. Mao gives it a bit of thought while holding a spoon.

Mao: I'm not sure... Perhaps it's similar to winning the Japanese nationals? I was sooo happy. I was happy to win, but I was even happier when I finished my performance. The happiness that I feel when I skated a perfect program is indescribable. It'd be nice to win a gold medal, but what I truly want is that sense of accomplishment and the feeling that I skated well.

When Mao came back from Men's SP and she watched it again on TV, she seemed calm and collected. When Stephane Lambiel fell during his SP, the TV anchor excitedly said, "you never know what happens!" I'm not sure how Mao felt about it. However, she didn't appear to be jolted. Mao was eating a palm-sized bun for dinner. I was amazed by her calmness.

The day before Ladies' SP, Mao had grilled beef to 'fortify' herself. She seemed relaxed in the morning of the competition.

Mao: I thought I could finally compete. I was very excited.

This season, her SP was perfect. She'd never made a mistake in it. Because of this, Mao once again wanted to skate without any mistakes and place third or above in the SP even in the worst case scenario. She never thought this would not happen.

Mao was not able to complete the 3 flip - 3 loop combination jump in Nocturn. When the loop was popped into a single, the audience gasped. A collective sigh lingered in the air.

Mao: Perhaps the first jump was too good. This delayed the second jump just a bit. But, if I was [mentally] stronger, I would have been alright -- I would have made it.

Mao thought to herself during the rest of the performance. "I don't want to repeat the mistake I made in the GPF. I'm not going to repeat the same mistake. I will do my best till the end."

She placed fifth after the SP, 10.63 back of Yuna Kim who was in the first place and 6.66 behind Miki Ando in the second place.

Mao: I didn't realize the difference until I was told during the [post-performance] interview. I was so surprised because I'd never been 10 points behind.

She thought to herself that she might not be able to overcome the difference. She was so upset with herself that she had tears in her eyes. However, she behaves bravely in front of the TV cameras:

Mao: I think it'll be OK if I complete the triple axel and score 200 points.

I'm standing just outside the mob of reporters during the interview, trying to get a peek at her through their shoulders. Her face appears pale. She has a distant look in her eyes. They look moist and red, and are not looking at anyone. She sometimes loosens her mouth as if to smile. I think to myself that she might start crying -- she may already be crying.

Mao: You're right. I almost cried. I tried really hard to hold my tears back. I kept thinking, 'what am I doing?' 'how pathetic.' I was just very frustrated with myself.

As Mao fielded reporters' questions, Mao gradually came out of her frustration.

Mao: I ended up saying that I would score 200 points. While I was saying it, i thought to myself, 'ohmygod, what am i saying? what shall i do now?' But, I had always said that I wanted to win, so I wanted to keep my promise.

Mao didn't cry at the arena. She wanted not just to do her best, but to realize her own words.

However...
Mao returned to her hotel not as a competitor, but as a heart-broken sixteen-year-old girl. Not knowing how to express her feelings, she remained silent. It was not at all like her.

Mao: I was very sad. I had been practicing very hard, but the results didn't reflect it.

Mao's mother, Kuniko, looks back at the night.

Kuniko: I thought that's exactly why I was there for. When Mao makes a big mistake, that's when I come in. Mao doesn't need me when everything is going well. But, when things go wrong, Mao wants me to say something; she relies on me.

In a situation like this, comforting her was counterproductive -- Mao would get hurt even more.

Kuniko: Mao is very perceptive. She quickly perceives what people are really thinking. She would immediately pick up the disappointment hidden behind words of consolation and thinks, 'i made them sad because i failed.' If nobody scolds her, she feels even worse. This is why I have to be the bad cop and tell her 'what happened?'

Kuniko watched Mao as she remained silent. However, she couldn't leave her that way for long -- the next day was Ladies' LP. She had to take an action.

Kuniko: Come here, Mao.

She reminded Mao what she told her after SA and GPF. In a way, it was something that she has been tellling her all season. "You have to do what you said you would do. What happened today? Were you overconfident because your SP had been perfect all season?"

Kuniko knew, however, Mao's mistake that day was different from any others this season. Mao had truly done her best. She had really fought and failed.

Kuniko: I scolded her, but I also cried with her. It was so painful. Mao did her best, but I had to scold her in order to motivate her. I felt guilty doing so. As a mother, I wanted to praise her for trying her best, but i knew that Mao would fail in the LP if I did that.

Kuniko wanted to help Mao realize her dream of winning a medal. It'd been the big goal this season. Mao had been working so hard to achieve it. They could not give up now.

Kuniko told Mao, "Make sure you win a medal." Mao responded, "it doesn't have to be gold?" "Not at all. You seem to think a medal is out of reach now, but you are mistaken. Missing a single jump set you back 10 points. Then, putting in one more jump than anyone else tomorrow will make up the difference. I'm convinced that you can do it. Just try to figure out what score will put you on the podium."

Mao later describes what happened that night:
Mao: Mom was very upset in the beginning. She told me the kind of things that she had after the GPF. Then, she gave me various advice. As I listened to her, I gradually felt more confident and I was ready to go for it.

Mao thought about past competitions and analyzed the cases where skaters came from behind. At Worlds, she had the best example yet -- Stephane Lambiel coming from behind to win the bronze.

Mao: Thinking about Lambiel made me believe that I could do it, too. I believed in myself, that I could make up the deficit in the free. I wanted to give a good performance for the audience; I was determined to do that. I also wanted to top my personal best.

It was getting late at night, well past her usual bed time. Mao's last thought before falling asleep: "Mom said it didn't have to be gold, but I want a gold medal if possible."


Last edited by on Mon Nov 19, 2007 5:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:45 am

Thank you so much Caliblue

Your translation helps me understand mao more Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sat Nov 17, 2007 1:59 pm

Thank you so much for translating this great interview, Caliblue. Your hard work is very appreciated! Thumbs up!

I'll comment on the interview itself later, right now too happy that Mao won and got a good score. Boogie Boogie Boogie
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sat Nov 17, 2007 4:04 pm

Very moving stories. The 'narrow bridge' sounded to me very poetic. But I am sure that the bridge is going to be wider and wider Good luck!

Great to hear how Mao's mom helped her come back strong flower

Thank you for all your great translation. I can imagine how long it would take to do all this translation and typing it up. That's really nice of you.
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:42 pm

Thanks a lot Caliblue! That's nice because we get to know Mao even more with all the things that happened to her!
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:51 pm

You're welcome! I'm glad you guys enjoyed it! This is my way of supporting Mao-chan since I can't do anything else. This book tells us that physical training, as hard as it is, is probably the easier part of being an eligible skater. The mental game is much more difficult and intractable. However, I feel that Mao-chan is making a steady progress in this area as well, judging from today's LP. flower

sunshine wrote:
I can imagine how long it would take to do all this translation and typing it up. That's really nice of you.
Thanks for recognizing that. The last one i did (2007 Worlds -- Short Program) took me almost 2.5 hours, so i wasn't too happy with myself. Whirly It's just that Japanese and English are such different languages that come from drastically different cultures that it can be quite challenging to translate something written in Japanese into English. People express themselves quite differently. Fried
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:32 am

Caliblue, I really respect all the translation you have done from the book Worship As I am also a native speaker of Japanese, I know how difficult to translate Japanese to English Bawling I have done sometimes too, but it always took me long time even just short conversation... I really think it is very cool of ya doing it for international Mao-chan fans flower , and you are very good at it Dance I am envious of your English skill Love Hearts
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sun Nov 18, 2007 12:50 pm

Thanks, Yumei, for your encouragement! flower
Despite the huge difference between Japanese and English, it is this challenge that makes the Japanese-English translation experience a lot of fun (if time consuming). :bounce:
My desire to share this book with everyone is only contrained by lack of time. Bawling
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:26 pm

That is really a beautiful translation. I could see how carefully you tried to choose the words. Thank you so much for all your time and efforts. flower
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PostSubject: Re: Asada Mao -- Sixteen   Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:00 am

Thank you for your hard work Caliblue flower

That was very interesting. I hope that Mao's bridge will become wider and wider, as wide as the rink Thumbs up!

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