Mirai Nagasu finished fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but then was not named to the 2014 U.S. team. The 2008 National champion is determined to make it back to the Olympic stage.
Figure skating beginnings
Nagasu started skating at age 5 because she was unable to play golf on a rainy day. She says her parents were essential to the development of her career. “They made so many sacrifices, so we could afford to skate because the earnings of the [sushi] restaurant business were barely enough to cover the high expenses. Not only would my parents work full hours, my parents both woke up at 5 a.m. My dad left the house at 5 a.m. to go to the fish market to pick out his own fish, and my mom woke up at 5 a.m. to wake me up in order to get me ready for skating before school. After school, during her lunch break, she’d take me to ballet, and then I’d spend the rest of the day at the restaurant doing homework and sleep in the storage closet until it was time to go home. They taught me how to persevere and to always work hard.”
Major competitions/ medals
Though she earned a bronze medal at the 2014 U.S. Championships, she was not named to the Olympic team for Sochi. Many believed Nagasu should be selected instead of teammate Ashley Wagner (who finished fourth) to represent Team USA in Sochi. Instead, the U.S. sent that year’s champion Gracie Gold, silver medalist Polina Edmunds, and Wagner. She calls that the biggest obstacle she’s had to overcome.
In 2015, she finished 10th at nationals, but has bounced back since.
In 2016, she finished fourth and was sent to both the Four Continents Championships, where she won a silver medal, and the world championships, where she placed tenth.
She also finished fourth at the 2017 U.S. Nationals, earning her a trip to that year’s Four Continents Championships. Inside the same venue at that will play host to figure skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Nagasu earned a bronze medal to close the season.
In 2008, Nagasu won her first U.S. Championships title. She the 2010 Olympic team, and finished fourth in Vancouver, Canada.
Nagasu is known for flirting with the triple Axel, the most difficult jump that ladies figure skating has to offer today. Her coach admits to contributing to the hype around her jump. He’s put videos of her landing the jump on social media, and has said that he wants Nagasu to be comfortable with that amount of pressure.
“I know what it’s like to compete at a U.S. Championships when there are only two [Olympic] spots, and I know what it’s like to fight for that spot. Of course, it will be a completely different experience, because when I was 16 I was just so good at focusing in that moment. I want to have that same kind of nothing-to-lose feeling I had when I was 16, so I can go to the Olympics again and perform on that big stage.” Nagasu said, before the start of the pre-Olympic season
Nagasu finished fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Outside the rink
Nagasu has three rescue dogs, which she calls her “kids with tails.” Lincoln is a Pugalier, Liberty is an Australian Shepherd mix, and Lexi is a Siberian husky. She says they’re similar to having kids, because she makes sure they get plenty of exercise at the park every day. She calls them her emotional support animals because they don’t know or care about her skating, and whether she’s had a horrible day or a great day, they are always happy to see her. Their happiness, she says, is addictive. Lincoln even sleeps in her arms at night!
Nagasu is also a full time student at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. “I do it because I like having the balance of education and athleticism,” she explains. “When I come home from training, my attention immediately has to focus on my school courses, which helps keep the stress level balanced. I mostly balance both by drinking a lot of coffee and making sure I time manage well, which doesn’t happen all the time, especially during finals week.”
Her parents are Japanese and own a “delicious” sushi restaurant in Arcadia, Calif. She’s an only child and one of only two Americans in her family.