Miki Ando of Japan performs at the Art on Ice figure-skating show in Shanghai on Saturday. Ando will return to competition next season after a one-year break. [Provided to China Daily]
Japanese star Ando set to make a reluctant return to competition, Lei Lei writes.
Although she is listed as an entry for the 2012-2013 Grand Prix, Japan's two-time world champion skater Miki Ando says she is not ready for the series. The 24-year-old says she would now prefer to be an artist on ice rather than a competitor.
"I don't care about what place I get in competitions now. I just care about how I perform in front of an audience," said Ando in Shanghai last weekend for the Art on Ice skating show.
"I just want to show how I perform and if somebody can feel something from my skating, that's my goal, that's my best performance and why I dreamt of becoming a skater," she said.
Together with several of the world's top figure skaters, including China's two-time world champion pair of Pang Qing and Tong Jian and men's singles world champion Daisuke Takahashi, Ando performed two finely choreographed programs for the Shanghai audience over the weekend.
Staged by Infront China, Art on Ice, which was established in 1995 in Switzerland, is a figure-skating show based on the compelling theme of figure skaters performing to live music.
After claiming her second world title at the 2011 World Championships in Moscow, Ando announced she would sit out the 2011-2012 season.
Over the past year she has been busy taking part in figure-skating shows, like Art on Ice, around the world. She announced her return to the Grand Prix series this month, but says she does not crave the competition.
"I was quite busy last year, but I didn't train seriously. This year, I don't feel like I am ready for competition, but I signed a paper (with the International Skating Union) in case I want to do the Grand Prix circuit," Ando told China Daily.
"I was planning to make a decision in June, but I didn't have the time to think about it. So, (I just signed it) just in case I wanted to compete. If I don't sign the paper, I can't go. I don't feel I want to compete yet, but I signed the contact, so I have no choice I will try my best. Let's see how it works out."
Ando picked up skating at the age of eight in 1996.
She emerged on international stage in the 2001-2002 season, when she won the Japan Junior Championships and the Junior Grand Prix final. She also earned bronze medals at the Japanese Championships (senior) and the Junior worlds.
Ando made history the next season at the Junior Grand Prix final when she landed a quadruple salchow and became the first female skater to land a quadruple jump of any kind in a competition. She still remains the only woman to ever perform the feat.
Ando won her first world champion title at the 2007 worlds and claimed her best result in a Grand Prix final during the 2009-2010 season by clinching a silver medal. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Ando finished fifth.
She has set herself no targets for the coming season.
"I don't have any goal right now. I have done my job and I think skaters don't have to be competitors because we are like artists. I really enjoy being a show skater," she said.
"We all have to quit some day and I'm going to be 25 this year. It's a really hard age for a woman. I don't know, maybe my next goal will be to be a great skater in show skating. Of course, it's really good to be a competitor and get good results, medals and everything. But people have to understand we have to quit some day. We have a future and other choices.
"I'm just thinking about the Grand Prix now. An Olympic gold medal is great, but it's so difficult. I don't know if I will attempt to go to the Sochi Olympics yet. So, maybe I will think about the Grand Prix final as the place to get another medal."
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