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Mirai Nagasu heads to second Olympic Games with different approach

By Maura Sullivan Hill, staff writer
Photo by Leah Adams


When Mirai Nagasu competed at her first Olympics, in Vancouver in 2010, she said she was “wrapped up in my own little bubble.”


She went home to California to train in a familiar environment between the Opening Ceremonies and her event, and didn’t go watch any of the other sports.


“I think that this experience will be completely different, and honestly, I’m really looking forward to it, because I feel like I will be like a newborn baby and really excited to soak it all in,” Nagasu told reporters during a media call on Jan. 30.


“One thing that I really regret from Vancouver is that I didn’t take the opportunity to go out and enjoy the other sports. I want to watch some other events live,” she said.


Enjoying her second Olympic experience is at the top of Nagasu’s to do list, and she said the pressure has lifted since making the Olympic team.


“Training has been going really well. I think that the hardest part about going to the Olympics is making the team — making the team is more stressful than anything,” she said. “Since I’ve been named to the team, it’s really about enjoying the processing and hitting my peak at the right moment. I feel really confident going into the Olympics, and I can’t wait to enjoy every single second.”


She plans to include the triple axel in both programs, and said that she may not have pushed herself to try the difficult jump, if not for the heartbreaking experience of being left off the 2014 Olympic team.

“I think that experience really changed me as a skater. I took a step back and found that some things are not worth accepting. I wanted to be on another Olympic team,” Nagasu said. “It took time to really evolve myself as a person and a skater — I was very upset for a long time — but I changed myself and really became a better skater. I honestly don’t think I would have worked as hard on the triple axel if I didn’t have that time to really contemplate. To have overcome that little bit of a slump is something that not a lot of skaters have the perseverance to get through, and I’m really proud of not just overcoming that part of my life, but also doing it in the public [eye].”

Another difference from her 2010 Olympic experience? The opportunity to compete in the team event. Nagasu told reporters she’d love to skate for the U.S. in the team event, and would be confident competing either of her programs.

“That’s something that I saw in Sochi that I didn’t have the opportunity to have in Vancouver — the team holding hands, with arms in the air, medals around their necks,” she said. “As a solo skater, this sport can be really lonely, so to have that opportunity at the Olympic Games is amazing.”

U.S. Figure Skating will announce their selections for the team event next week, and the women’s competition in PyeongChang kicks off on Wednesday, Feb. 21.