Viewers of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics marveled as figure skater Mirai Nagasu became the third woman ever to complete a flawless triple axel in an Olympic competition. Nagasu completed the legendary move twenty-one seconds into her program as the world cheered in her honor. The twenty-four year old American figure skater had already made a name for herself in the skating world as the youngest woman to ever win the Senior Ladies U.S. title. Nagasu is a three-time Four Continents medalist and represented America in the 2010 Olympics as well.
Taking to the ice at the age of five, and quickly climbing the ranks, Mirai Nagasu would find herself consistently winning medals. She dreamed of landing the triple axel in a competition like her idols Kim Yuna and Mao Asada, two former professional figure skaters, both masters of the difficult spin. The triple axel is considered to be one of the most difficult moves in skating. Unlike most other spins that one goes into backwards, this spin starts with the skater facing forward and requires the perfect speed and balance.
Nagasu’s Olympic dream was to achieve more than those that had come before her. In 2014, she placed third in Olympic competitions in Sochi, but would find herself cut and replaced by fellow American Ashley Wagner. Devastated that she did not make the team, Mirai Nagasu resolved to train harder, build up her talent and skills, and push herself beyond her limits. She returned in 2018 with a new outlook and completed her program with a score of 137.53 points. Nagasu would place second in the competition, and find herself in the final three for the American team.
“Four years ago, when I was left off the team, I wanted to make another Olympic team, and I knew I would really have to be something special, so to become the first American to land a triple axel at the Olympic Games is historical, and no one can take that away from me,” she told The New York Times.
After completing the triple axel, Nagasu stated, “I feel really great. Going into it, I was like a train and I was like, ‘Get on the tracks and get some speed,’” said Nagasu to the Associated Press. “And, I tripped a couple times. I don’t know if you could tell. It was more something I could feel, but to nail it the way I did, even out of the corner of my eye, I could see my teammates standing out of excitement. At that moment, I wanted to stop the music and get off, but I still had my whole program ahead of me.”
Mirai Nagasu is currently regarded as one of the top figure skaters in the world due to her Olympic feat. She will go down in history as one of the few women to land a triple axel in competition, following in the footsteps of Tonya Harding, Mao Asada, and Midori Ito. However, in Nagasu’s case, her story will not end with the triple axel. She continues to forge forward in her career as a figure skater while inspiring younger up and coming skaters to push their limits and strive for more while remaining confident in their talent and skill.
Photo source: SI.com