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Mirai Nagasu’s Incredible Journey to her Olympic Triple Axel

Mirai Nagasu’s parents wanted their daughter to play golf, but a rainy day forced the family indoors and Nagasu discovered the wonderful world of ice.

On Monday, February 12th, Nagasu displayed immense excitement and held her fists in victory after landing a triple axel. This feat helped Team USA win bronze in the team event, and earned Nagasu a personal and season best score of 137.53 for the women’s free skate.

Nagasu is the third woman overall and first American woman at the Olympics to ever land the triple axel, which wowed spectators around the world.

“Holy cow!” one of the commentators exclaimed when she hit the ice.


Nagasu started figure skating at age five, won gold at the National Championships in 2008, became the second youngest female skater to win the US title, and was a two-time medalist at the Junior Olympics.

Although she competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver, she did not qualify for the 2014 Olympics. Ironically, her teammate Adam Rippon, one of her close friends, also did not qualify for the 2014 Olympics but qualified for the 2018 Olympics. Nagasu was overjoyed when she found out Rippon would be competing with her.

“Four years ago I was crying with Adam Rippon because we both didn’t make the team,” she said. “So for both of us to be on the team… is super exciting.”

Nagasu was heartbroken after Ashley Wagner took the last spot for the 2014 Olympic team and almost quit the sport. However, she stayed strong and recognized her limitations.

“I’m the role model who always makes mistakes and then I just get up and keep going. I don’t tap out, I don’t quit. I just get up, forget about it, and then onto the next thing,” Nagasu told US Weekly.

During her time off, Nagasu worked as a Colorado Ice Girl to help raise money for her future goals. She also sought the help of coach Tom Zakrajsek who helped her develop as a skater and master the triple axel. Zakrajsek said Nagasu practiced the difficult jump about thirty times a day for two years. The coach felt very optimistic before the performance and was confident that Nagasu would perform well.

“Today I knew Mirai didn’t need a lot of help. I could tell she was in a good place backstage in the off-ice warm-up. She just seemed very present,” Zakrajsek said.

Although Nagasu has faced many hardships over the years, she recognizes she cannot perform perfectly every time and hopes she can serve as a role model for others.

“I’m going to make mistakes and have success; I hope that under all circumstances, I can come away from everything as a role model and an inspiration,” her personal biography reads.

Even though hard days can become discouraging, Nagasu enjoys the storytelling aspect of ice skating.

“My favorite thing about skating is that it gives people an opportunity to go faster than possible on foot. It also combines athleticism with grace, so it gives skaters a chance to relay stories or messages to the audience while demanding physical strength.” Nagasu said.

Nagasu’s tremendous dedication and passion for ice skating showed in her performances last week and her incredible determination inspires other athletes and women around the world to stand back up after they fall flat on the ice.

Featured Image by C.Nabe on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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