Winter Games Athletes
Suzuki lacks some of the sparkling credentials a number of her toughest competition will have heading to Sochi, but her latest performance may have been the most significant in her career. She’s by far the oldest of the serious medal contenders in the ladies’ competition, but Suzuki should be full of confidence after winning gold in the Japanese championships for the first time in 10 tries. Considering the competition, it was quite a feat. Suzuki beat out six-time Japanese champion Mao Asada while besting second-place finisher Kanako Murakami by nearly 13 points. That ensured Suzuki a second shot at the Olympics, where she’ll be eager to improve upon her eighth-place finish in the Vancouver Games. Suzuki plans on retiring after the Olympics, and while going out on top won’t be easy against Asada, Murakami, South Korea’s Kim Yu-na and others, she’ll have a chance due to her high-risk program. Suzuki landed seven triple jumps in her gold medal-winning free skate at nationals, and that level of difficulty could propel her to the podium should she wind up skating a pair of mistake-free programs in Sochi.