Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Nagasu helps lead Americans to figure skating bronze

Nagasu helps lead Americans to figure skating bronze

She giggled to herself, which made her smile even broader.

It's a compliment, and also a gauntlet thrown down to her skating peers.

Axel jumps are a regular part of figure skating, and triple axels are common for men.

The triple axel is a remarkable jump that looks like it wants to completely destroy physics.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - 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. Nagasu skated a flawless routine and pumped both fists as she completed it, smiling as the crowd gave her a standing ovation. He was like, 'You're everywhere right now.' I was like, 'I know, I'm like America's sweetheart.' And he just laughed in my face because what you think of as sort of the American people embracing, I don't really think I, on paper, really embody much of any of that sort of perceived persona. Nagasu, who's taking the semester off from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs to tour with Stars on Ice in April and May, reiterated her goal on Twitter Tuesday morning.

"I've known her for more than 10 years", Rippon said. "More than that, my mom always taught me to stand up for what I believe in and that has given my skating more goal", Rippon said. "I kept it together and I took it one element at a time".

No other female skater in the 2018 Games is attempting a triple axel, but athletes like Nagasu will continue to challenge what's considered possible. Nagasu became the first American woman to complete the move in the Olympics, and only the third woman overall to do so. But in figure skating, a sport in which artistry mixes with strength and technique in unique and unpredictable ways, the old saying rings true: It's about the journey.

She even garnered praise from celebrities. In its story, the Avalanche noted that Nagasu also represented the team at learn-to-skate programs "throughout the Rocky Mountain region".

It's not often that the triple axel is even attempted in global competition, let alone the Olympics, but Mirai Nagasu proved that hard work and determination pays off.

Nagasu says that while in general she turns to comedy and laughter to reduce pressure at big events like the Olympics, overcoming the heartbreak of missing the Sochi team was tough. "To want to share your ideas and feel like people might not like them".

The excuses - or perhaps we should call them explanations - were out in force after a mistake-filled first day of the Olympic figure skating team competition Friday. So what makes this jump so elusive? The axel is the only forward-facing jump in figure skating. The jump is named after its creator, Axel Paulson, who invented the single version in 1882.

A triple axel consists of 3 1/2 rotations. "I'm really proud of my team". Luckily, there's plenty more competition left, and plenty more opportunities for athletes to make their mark on history.

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