Mao Asada has proven she does not need a coach - she coached herself to her first world title in 2008.
The next two seasons Asada lived in Russia (part-time) to work with Tatyana Tarasova. But at Worlds in March, Tarasova was not rink-side when Asada skated to her second world title. (Her assistant Shanetta Folle was there, but it was clear Asada's future coaching arrangements were uncertain.)
So the search was on for Asada's next coach and rumors began swirling that Brian Orser, formerly of the Kim Yu-Na camp, was offered the position. (Could this have been the reason for Kim's recent departure- we will always wonder...) According to Orser, he claimed loyalty to his Olympic champion and thus an Asada-Orser combo was not to be.
This may have been for the better, as the two-time world champion Asada has named Nobuo Sato as her next coach.
Here are three reasons why Sato is a perfect fit for the Japanese champion.
1. Location, location, location - Asada will not have to leave Japan. After training stints in Lake Arrowhead, California with Rafael Arutunian and in Russia with the legendary Tatyana Tarasova, it is clear that Asada feels most comfortable at home. Specifically last year with Tarasova, Asada spent several weeks at a time away from her coach while training back in Japan with assistant coach Shanetta Folle.
With Sato on board, Asada can stay put - and wouldn't you be more comfortable in your home country where the language, culture, and food is what you are used to?
2. Low key - Few coaches show as much rink-side restraint and calmness as Nobuo Sato. Look at the beginning of this video as he sends student Takahiko Kozuka out to compete. (The pat on the back centers Kozuka's energy, and while the superstition is unique to Kozuka, Sato's delivery must be the real key to success.)
By no fault of Asada's, working with Tarasova brought its own set of complications as the legendary coach advises much of the Russian team and is a prominent and outspoken figure in the sport. With Sato, Asada can peacefully and quietly train in Japan and avoid outside distractions.
3. Proven success - Nobuo Sato (with wife Kumiko) most notably coached daughter, Yuka, to the 1994 world title. Since then, he has instructed many of the top names in Japanese figure skating including Miki Ando, Yukari Nakano, Fumie Suguri, and currently Takahiko Kozuka.
His students are known for strong and powerful basic skating and overall consistent performances. While Asada seems to have developed a solid base in both regards, Sato brings stability to the Olympic silver medalist's career as she trains for a shot at gold in 2014.