Figure skating: No end to Asada's triple axel gamble

Figure skating: No end to Asada's triple axel gamble
Japan's figure skating star Mao Asada

FUKUOKA - Japan's figure skating star Mao Asada vowed Sunday to continue attempting the risky triple axel as her ultimate weapon to strike Olympic gold, despite failing to land it cleanly in competition this season.

Asada, the only woman who regularly attempts the difficult but high-scoring 3.5-revolution jump in international competitions, botched three triple-axel attempts but won the prestigious Grand Prix Final title at Fukuoka in Japan.

In the long free-skate programme on Saturday, she fell after an opening triple axel and under-rotated her next element, another triple axel, before landing on two feet - an irregular move.

It was the first time since the 2009-2010 season that Asada had attempted two triple axels in the long programme. She became the first woman to land three triple axels in the same competition when she finished runner-up to South Korea's Kim Yu-Na at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

"It has been a long time since my last challenge three years ago," the 23-year-old told reporters before the gala exhibition of the 2013 Grand Prix Final, which brought together the top six finishers in the Grand Prix series.

"I want to make another challenge at my next competition," she said, referring to the national championships in two weeks' time which will help decide three women's and three men's berths for Japan at February's Sochi Olympics.

Asada, the 2008 and 2010 world champion, insisted that the triple axel she executed in the short programme on Thursday was clean enough although judges ruled it was under-rotated.

"I believe I have fully rotated it. So I want to make it my starting point," she said.

"All elements except for the axel have been cleared toward this event," Asada said. "I believe it won't be long before my axel will be cleared if I firmly grasp how I made it and how I did not make it."

Only a handful of women have succeeded in performing the triple axel in competition since Japan's Midori Ito nailed it at a home event in 1988. Kimmie Meissner completed it at the US nationals in 2005.

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