These Figure Skating Sweepers Are Stealing the Show at the Olympics With Their Adorable Friendship

These Figure Skating Sweepers Are Stealing the Show at the Olympics With Their Adorable Friendship
20 Questions — Mirai Nagasu lands a triple axel at the Olympics and other Pyeongchang highlights
nGANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The wonderful thing about the inspiring — shall we call it Olympian? — story of Mirai Nagasu is that it’s not over.

Nagasu has gone from teenage wunderkind and U.S. champion to fourth-place finisher at the Vancouver Olympics to passed over and nearly forgotten. And now, a Pyeongchang Games bronze medalist with, she vows, more to come.

“It has a really special meaning to it because it feels like I’ve come full circle,” the 24-year-old Nagasu said after not only helping the Americans to a team bronze, but becoming the first U.S. woman to land a triple axel in the Olympics.

20 Questions -- Mirai Nagasu lands a triple axel at the Olympics and other Pyeongchang highlights
20 Questions — Mirai Nagasu lands a triple axel at the Olympics and other Pyeongchang highlights

“It was really heartbreaking not to be named to the team in Sochi,” she added of being bumped for the more internationally accomplished Ashley Wagner by a federation panel four years ago. “But it was something not meant to be. I think that experience changed me as a skater. I took a step back and realized some things are not worth obsessing. I wanted to be on another Olympic team, but it took time to evolve myself as a person and a skater.”

Nagasu became the third woman to land the triple axel at the Olympics. Two Japanese athletes, Midori Ito, in 1992, and Mao Asada, in 2010 and 2014, were the previous women to land the jump in Olympic competition. The jump has become more common for male skaters since Brian Orser, a Canadian, was the first to land one in 1984 at Sarajevo.

That evolution, which included a slump in which Nagasu finished 10th at nationals in 2015, has been overseen by renowned coach Tom Zakrajsek, who believes the best is yet to come. Quite possibly next week in the individual women’s event.

The Latest: Plenty of excitement on Day 3 of Winter Olympics
The Latest: Plenty of excitement on Day 3 of Winter Olympics

“Mirai is ready to lay everything down and send some awesome shots in the singles events and we’ll see how the chips fall,” said Zakrajsek, who began working with her four months after she was left off the 2014 Olympic squad. “Ice is slippery, you know, and anything can happen. There’s a whole history of Americans not being expected to be on the podium, like Paul Wylie, Sarah Hughes. We are working for the podium and she will put it all out there.”

Which means, of course, trying the triple axel in both the short program and the free skate. It’s not quite a secret weapon, but it’s something no other top-level woman has in her arsenal.

And, perhaps most importantly, the axel Nagasu hit in the team competition was pure, the best of her life. Something to build on.

“This year I was able to really get a feel for it and so when I started to land it, it was a very satisfactory feeling,” she said in December. “I could always visualize myself doing the jump, it was just getting my muscles to react as they needed to.”

“It’s just one jump in the program,” she said, “but at the same time, it’s really cool for me because I am one of the few that has the ability to land it. It is a newer jump for me, so I do work on it a little more than other jumps. But I probably work on it the same amount as the salchow because even in the Vancouver Olympics that was not a jump in my program, so I’ve really grown.”

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Another sign of how Nagasu has grown is what she did after nailing the triple axel that only Japan’s Midori Ito and Mao Asada, noted jumpers, had managed. Many in the crowd or watching elsewhere wondered if Nagasu would be so thrilled by hitting it that she would lose concentration in the rest of the program.

“She didn’t just land it, she spiked it,” Zakrajsek said. “And that gave her confidence, and everything she did will give her confidence going forward. In people’s minds, maybe they look at her differently for the singles event.”

Although she is the second-ranked U.S. skater behind relative newcomer Bradie Tennell, Nagasu seems the most likely challenge to reach the podium. Tennell and 2017 U.S. champ Karen Chen could be more of a threat in 2024 in Beijing. For Nagasi, the time is now.

Nagasu’s performance on Sunday, set to “Miss Saigon,” included eight other triple jumps and earned her a score of 137.43 points, good for second place in the free skate.

“It’s definitely a very different experience, I’m much older,” she noted over being at a second Olympics. “I think eight years ago, I feel like I was too young to really enjoy every moment of it. And four years ago I was crying with Adam Rippon because we both didn’t make the team.

Nagasu’s parents, Kiyoto and Ikuko, came to the U.S. from Japan about three decades ago to open their own sushi restaurant, according to the Los Angeles Times. The couple currently run Kiyosuzu, which on special occasions offers the “Mirai Roll” ― according to USA Today, it’s a combination of tuna, tuna tatako, avocado, mentaiko (pollock roe), shrimp and tempura. They were unable to watch their daughter’s historic performance in the team competition live due to the dinner rush Sunday night, USA Today reported.

“I was very upset for a really long time, but you know, I changed myself and really, really became a better skater. … It was like a conscious decision to make a comeback even though I hadn’t taken a break or anything, and to have overcome that little bit of a slump is not something a lot of skaters have the perseverance to get through.

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“So I’m really proud of not just overcoming that part of my life, but also doing it in the public. It sends a strong message that it is possible.”

Skates and ice…Mirai Nagasu is there

Mirai Nagasu reacts after her performance in the figure skating singles event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Need to catch up with what’s happening in the world of sports and pop culture? Don’t worry, I got you. 

“You keep working to get better, but if you learn to be satisfied, it puts you at ease and you avoid the highs and lows,” Kwan’s father told The New York Times back in 1998.

1. How are you staying abreast of the happenings in Pyeongchang? Here’s everything you need to know about the Olympics, including medal count. 

2. Mirai Nagasu has become the first American woman — and third overall — to land a triple axel in the Olympics. How did she celebrate?

With the landing of a historic triple axel at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Mirai Nagasu instantly became a role model to many younger American skaters.

3. Is the U.S. women’s hockey team still on track to win gold after a slim margin of victory over Finland? 

4. How is Chloe Kim winning Twitter and the Olympics at the same time? 

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5. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, everyone’s favorite Olympic BFFs, are back! What shenanigans are they up to now? 

7. Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors recently detailed decadelong abuse by her coach in an essay. How does she intend to help change the conversation around sexual abuse and sports? 

Nagasu homed in on the triple axel. In January, she finished second in the US Figure Skating Championships and made her triumphant return to the Olympics, becoming the first US woman to return to the Games after missing an edition, according to Team USA.

8. Serena Williams made her return to competitive tennis this weekend. She and sister Venus were doubles partners at the Fed Cup. How did she perform? 

In September, the 24-year-old from Arcadia, California, became just the third US woman to complete the triple axel in a competition and now, she did it at the Olympics. Tonya Harding landed the jump in 1991, as did Kimmie Meissner in 2005.

9. What career milestone did Venus hit with her recent singles victory? 

The axel is considered so difficult because it is the only jump in which the skater takes to the air while facing forward. A triple axel requires three-and-a-half rotations before landing.
US skater Rippon: I don't want my Olympics to be about Mike Pence
US skater Rippon: I don’t want my Olympics to be about Mike Pence

10. The votes are in! Carlos Cordeiro has been elected as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. What makes the former Goldman Sachs executive the most qualified to lead, and how does Hope Solo feel about the choice?  

The Avs say she’s studying international business at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs right now. The U.S. Olympic Training Center is also in Colorado Springs.

11. Who will take on the responsibility of making the Indianapolis Colts competitive again? 

“Tonight, the Olympics are truly magical…” Rippon told NBC. “We gave each other a hug and I said, ‘Mirai, we’re here! We did it.’”

12. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo became the highest-paid NFL player after signing a five-year deal. How will his monster contract affect the QB market? 

Rippon, who skated to a score of 172.98 in the team figure skating men’s free skate, has also become a social media darling as his name trended worldwide Sunday.

14. After Cleveland’s fire sale at the NBA trade deadline, it’s fair to say the Boston Celtics won the Kyrie Irving trade. But why did so many people initially get the trade wrong?

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15. After the recent trades, have the Cleveland Cavaliers changed their game?

16. Where was Ray Allen while former Boston Celtics teammates Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, plus coach Doc Rivers, reunited to witness Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement celebration? 

17. Kobe Bryant recently sat down with The Undefeated’s Jemele Hill to discuss race and sports in today’s political and social climate. What were Bryant’s thoughts on the national anthem protests? 

18. Why aren’t there more African-American distance runners? 

19. The New York Liberty have found a new home. This upcoming season, they’ll say goodbye to Madison Square Garden and hello to the Westchester County Center, a smaller venue about 40 minutes outside of Manhattan. What does Liberty star Tina Charles think of the move? 

20. And if you had to pick — who is the best Black Marvel character? 

Shana Renee is the founder and editor-in-chief of All Sports Everything and a passionate New York Jets, Knicks and Yankees fan. Follow her sports talk on Twitter at @ItsShanaRenee.

Need to catch up with what’s happening in the world of sports and pop culture? Don’t worry, I got you. 

1. How are you staying abreast of the happenings in Pyeongchang? Here’s everything you need to know about the Olympics, including medal count. 

Does Mirai Nagasu Have A Leg Tattoo? The Figure Skater’s \”Tattooed\” Thigh Has Twitter Talking

2. Mirai Nagasu has become the first American woman — and third overall — to land a triple axel in the Olympics. How did she celebrate?

3. Is the U.S. women’s hockey team still on track to win gold after a slim margin of victory over Finland? 

Does skater Mirai Nagasu have a giant USA tattoo? We found the answer

4. How is Chloe Kim winning Twitter and the Olympics at the same time? 

5. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, everyone’s favorite Olympic BFFs, are back! What shenanigans are they up to now? 

7. Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors recently detailed decadelong abuse by her coach in an essay. How does she intend to help change the conversation around sexual abuse and sports? 

8. Serena Williams made her return to competitive tennis this weekend. She and sister Venus were doubles partners at the Fed Cup. How did she perform? 

9. What career milestone did Venus hit with her recent singles victory? 

10. The votes are in! Carlos Cordeiro has been elected as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. What makes the former Goldman Sachs executive the most qualified to lead, and how does Hope Solo feel about the choice?  

What is the Triple Axel: Mirai Nagasu becomes first American to land historic jump at Olympics

11. Who will take on the responsibility of making the Indianapolis Colts competitive again? 

12. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo became the highest-paid NFL player after signing a five-year deal. How will his monster contract affect the QB market? 

14. After Cleveland’s fire sale at the NBA trade deadline, it’s fair to say the Boston Celtics won the Kyrie Irving trade. But why did so many people initially get the trade wrong?

15. After the recent trades, have the Cleveland Cavaliers changed their game?

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16. Where was Ray Allen while former Boston Celtics teammates Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, plus coach Doc Rivers, reunited to witness Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement celebration? 

17. Kobe Bryant recently sat down with The Undefeated’s Jemele Hill to discuss race and sports in today’s political and social climate. What were Bryant’s thoughts on the national anthem protests? 

18. Why aren’t there more African-American distance runners? 

19. The New York Liberty have found a new home. This upcoming season, they’ll say goodbye to Madison Square Garden and hello to the Westchester County Center, a smaller venue about 40 minutes outside of Manhattan. What does Liberty star Tina Charles think of the move? 

20. And if you had to pick — who is the best Black Marvel character? 

Rippon wins spin war with US VP Pence

Shana Renee is the founder and editor-in-chief of All Sports Everything and a passionate New York Jets, Knicks and Yankees fan. Follow her sports talk on Twitter at @ItsShanaRenee.



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