US female figure skater one of only 3 in Olympic history to land the high-risk triple axel
(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) — Mirai Nagasu, 24, sailed through the air with a 3-rotation jump at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang to become the first American woman to land the high-risk triple axel during an Olympic competition.
Just 21 seconds into her routine in women’s free skate at the team competition, Nagasu pulled off the rare feat that made her not only the first American woman but the third woman ever to land a triple axel at the Olympics, according to ESPN.
Nagasu noted that the only two other women to achieve the feat in an Olympic competition were also of Japanese heritage.
“Midori Ito, Mao Asada and now Mirai Nagasu, all Japanese heritage,” Nagasu said. “But I’m really fortunate that I’m American, so I’ll be the first U.S. lady.”
Ito made the triple axel for the Japanese women’s figure skating team during the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France, making her the first woman in Olympic history to land the jump. She won the silver medal in individual women’s skating.
Asada, also of Japan, won the silver medal after landing a triple axel during her routine in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“This is definitely history or herstory, whatever way you want to put it,” Nagasu said of her feat. “I wanted to make my teammates proud and I wanted to make America proud.”
“I knew in my heart this day would come,” she said.
Nagasu was snubbed for a spot on the 2014 Olympic skating team and has spent the last four years training in hopes to qualify for this year’s games.
During her performance Monday, “I could see my teammates standing out of excitement,” Nagasu said. “At that moment I wanted to stop the music and get off, but I still had my whole program ahead of me.”
Her coach, Tom Zakrajsek, took to Facebook to thank Nagasu, pointing out that she practiced her triple axel every day for the last four years.
Former U.S. ice skating medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, who won gold during the 1992 Olympics, tweeted her congratulations after Nagasu’s historic performance with “tears of joy.”
The U.S. ice skating team took home the bronze medal last night with the help of points awarded to Nagasu during her routine.
Canada won the gold medal and Russia took home the silver.
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