Mirai Nagasu won the 2008 U.S. national championships a decade ago. She competed at the 2010 Vancouver Games and finished fourth at just 16 years old.
Now 24, she’s back in her second Olympic Games – she was not named to the Sochi team – with more technical prowess in her arsenal than ever.
She was the first U.S. woman to land a triple Axel at the Olympics, and just the third woman ever to accomplish the feat. She earned a team event bronze medal alongside the rest of the U.S. squad for her efforts.
Her focus on the triple Axel is all positive.
“Maybe I will fall, maybe I will land it,” Nagasu said in a press conference from PyeongChang. “Right now my mindset is, ‘I am going to nail it.’ At nationals I was landing every single one in practice and then I over-rotated (in competition). I believe in myself and continue to visualize that jump. People would have probably told me, ‘You cannot do a triple Axel. You are too old.’ But here I am doing it.”
Nagasu also spoke on her longevity in the sport. After being left off the 2014 Olympic team, which she called “heartbreaking,” she noted she isn’t the type of athlete to give up.
“I am not a fade-away person,” she said. “Most athletes are not that way. In the history of sport in general, people stick around. Look at Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn just continue on, Olympic cycle after Olympic cycle, that is why they are famous. I think I am one of those athletes and I stand to show that people should not give up, they should keep going.”