Mirai Nagasu becomes 1st American woman to land triple axel in Olympics
Pyeongchang: It took the talent, grit and artistry of eight American figure skaters over three days of competition at the Gangneung Ice Arena to deliver the United States a bronze medal in the team event at the PyeongChang Olympics.
But the most magical and pivotal contribution came from Mirai Nagasu, and it was over in an instant. In the span of one glorious eyeblink, Nagasu, who had been snubbed by U.S. skating officials for a spot on the 2014 Olympic team, poured all she had worked toward these past four years into the opening jump of her free skate on the final day of the team competition.
And when she landed solidly on one foot, after making 3½ rotations in the air, Nagasu made history, becoming the first American woman to land the high-risk triple axel in Olympic competition.
Her 4½ -minute programme, set to music from "Miss Saigon," demanded eight more triple jumps, as well as high difficulty spins. But with history now on her résumé — and her US teammates weeping and cheering, fully grasping the depth of her courage and the trials of her career — Nagasu, 24, sailed through the remaining elements of her program with the joy of a child romping on a playground, grinning more broadly each time she ticked off a skill.
Triple Salchow. Double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop. Triple Lutz-triple toe loop. She could do these jumps in her sleep. "You did it, girl!" screamed her teammate, pairs skater Alexa Scimeca-Knierim, from the US team's rinkside seats, loud enough for Nagasu to hear as she went into her final jump. She giggled to herself, which made her smile even broader. "It's historical and something no one can take away from me," Nagasu said afterward. "I wanted to make America proud."
That she did, contributing nine valuable points to the United States' bronze medal effort. Canada, which boasts the world's top ice dance pair, won gold. The Olympic Athletes from Russia took silver, giving the motherland they are forbidden from acknowledging at these Olympics its second medal. Under International Olympic Committee sanctions following evidence of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, Russia was banned from these Olympics but, in a compromise, was allowed to send 168 athletes absolved of any part in the scandal to compete under a stateless "OAR" banner.
The unprecedented compromise meant that during the flower ceremony that followed Monday's competition, OAR silver medalists ascended the silver stand on the podium in drab gray and red warm-ups and were forbidden from displaying a Russian flag while Canadian and American skaters wore their colours with pride.