Jiji-Japan News Aiko Uemura was not as disappointed this time, despite failing to finish higher than her fourth-place performance at the Vancouver Olympics. After narrowly missing out on a medal by finishing fourth at her fifth Olympics, Uemura said frankly, “I feel at ease.”
Uemura, 34, gave her all to the final of the women’s moguls during the Sochi Games on Saturday—her last Olympic appearance. She appeared calm while waiting for her score in the final’s third run, in which six skiers competed. After five skiers finished their run at the final, Uemura was in third, and she must have imagined herself standing on the podium when she saw that Hannah Kearney of the United States, who won the gold at Vancouver, had made two mistakes.
Although her dream of earning an Olympic medal was ultimately dashed, Uemura was upbeat. “It was like, ‘Yeah, okay,’” she said.
Her comments came not with resignation but satisfaction. Uemura, who made her Olympic debut at the 1998 Nagano Games in her teens, finished seventh, sixth, fifth and fourth in past Winter Olympics.
“I felt there was a wall that I could have overcome if I’d tried harder [in the past Olympics], but I didn’t feel that way this time,” Uemura said.
After the Vancouver Olympics, where she cried over her disappointing results, she took a season off. Returning to competition, her turns—once regarded as her strength—received lower scores than before.
Despite this, her husband, Kentaro Minagawa, an Alpine skier who missed a berth for Sochi and recently announced his retirement from competition, praised how she always stuck to her own style. “She’s good at keeping her focus on how she should ski,” he said.
After failing to defend her gold and settling for bronze, Kearney passed behind Uemura in tears, struggling to maintain her composure. It was a sharp contrast to the composed Uemura, who declared, “This is my last Olympics,” indicating no regrets about Sochi.