SOCHI, Russia — Two-time figure skating world champion Mao Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, was hopelessly out of medal contention after Wednesday’s disastrous short program, in which she fell on one jump and omitted a mandatory combination, explaining afterward that her mind seemed somehow disengaged from her body.
With nothing at stake but the performance itself, the 23-year-old Asada returned to the ice and staged a powerhouse of a free skate, nailing her opening triple Axel and thrilling the crowd with three more triples in the first 67 seconds. From one corner of the ice to the other, Asada displayed the range of her jumping prowess, delivering a full range of triples—a flip, a loop, a lutz, toe and a salchow—as well as triple flip, double loop, double loop combination late in the program.
Skating to a Rachmaninov piano concerto, Asada wept with joy as she finished the program, which earned her a career-high 142.71 points, bringing her total score to 198.22.
That’s a terrific number, but won’t likely be good enough for the podium, given the nearly 20 points Asada gave up in the short program, which placed her 16th. Asada, 23, has said this will be her last Olympic Games.
The first U.S. skater to compete will be 15-year-old Polina Edmunds, who enters the free skate in seventh (61.04 points).
Americans Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner will skate 22nd and 23rd, with front-running Kim Yu-na closing the competition immediately after them.