Ando decides against performing the quad
Defending champ will not try elusive jump in Sweden
|Miki Ando landed impressive quads during practice at Skate America. (Getty Images)|
As it turned out, the 20-year-old defending world champion did try the jump, taking a hard fall. Later, she said she would opt out of the move in her free program at the 2008 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.
"No, I will not be doing the quad here," Ando said. "I will not take the chance. The consistency is not great enough, and I want to show 100 percent what I can do."
Ando executed a quadruple Salchow at the 2002 Junior Grand Prix Final when she was just 15 years old, and she remains the only lady ever to have cleanly completed a four-revolution jump in competition. Since then, however, the maneuver has become something of an albatross.
At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Ando was a controversial selection to the Japanese team; the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) bypassed two other eligible skaters who had placed higher than her at nationals. In response, Ando felt pressured to try her famous jump, even though her training was not going well.
"I was given the chance to compete, so I feel I must try the quad even though the percentage of success is not as good as it could be," she said at the time. "If there is a chance, I think I should try it, and if I succeed, I will thank God."
She didn't, and a rather spectacular fall helped lead to a disappointing 15th-place finish.
More recently, Ando practiced the jump at the Four Continents Championships in February but doubled it in her free program, gaining just .41 points for the move (A quad Salchow has a base value of 9.5). She wound up winning the bronze medal behind Mao Asada and Joannie Rochette.
That's a risk she doesn't want to take here.
"I must concentrate on my triple-triple combinations," she said. "My consistency [with them] went down last week [in training], but they are better now."
Skaters are not given credit for trying quads, only for rotating and landing them. There is a one-point deduction for falls, and both the base value of an element and its grade of execution score is lowered if it is under-rotated or otherwise sloppy.
Ando's decision is something of a surprise. All season long, her coach, Nikolai Morozov, has talked of doing the jump here.
"The worlds are in Sweden, and [since] the jump was invented by a Swedish skater [Ulrich Salchow, in 1910], I hope she does the Salchow there," he said at Skate America last fall.
Of course, Ando is free to change her mind. If the jump goes better in later practices, we may just see it after all.
More surprises from the Japanese ladies
Ando and coach Morozov had another change in strategy: she dumped her "Samson et Delilah" short program in favor of last season's "Scheherazade."
"This is a decision we made after Four Continents," she said. "[The program] feels more comfortable, and I can express myself better."
Ando's teammate Mao Asada, the reigning world silver medalist, arrived to practice late yesterday and didn't do a run-through. But the third member of the Japanese team, Yukari Nakano, practiced a rare triple loop-triple loop combination and announced it would be in her free program.