Figure Skater Mirai Nagasu Is The First American Woman To Land A Triple Axel At The Olympics

Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Sunday. The triple axel, one of the most difficult maneuvers in skating, made Tonya Harding famous in 1991, when she became the first American woman to perform it at an international event.

Harding landed her successful triple axel, which involves three and a half rotations, at the US Figure Skating Championships in Minneapolis in 1991, but after that year she was unable to complete the jump in a competition.

Nagasu successfully landed the historic maneuver during the first 30 seconds of her routine for the women’s free skate event.

The 24-year-old who hails from Montebello, California represented the US at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver at age 16, placing fourth in the women’s event. But she was left home four years ago, from the Sochi Olympics by a committee decision.

Before Nagasu, only two Japanese-born figure skaters Midori Ito and Mao Asada had landed triple axels during the Olympics. Ito landed this move in Albertville in 1992, and Asada landed it three times in Vancouver in 2010 and once in Sochi in 2014.

“I am very fortunate that I’m American so I’m the first U.S. lady,” Nagasu said. “This is a journey that started with me wanting to become better and improve and change myself. It doesn’t happen immediately. It was rough. I would have dreams that I could do this jump, then I would try it on ice and I would fall. But I knew in my heart this day would come.”

Nagasu’s entire routine was flawless and she scored 137.53, a personal best. Nagasu beat nearly everyone in a very strong field; the exception was the OAR’s Alina Zagitova, the sport’s new 15-year-old “it” girl who scored a whopping 158.08.

Prior to Sunday’s event, Nagasu had already landed a successful triple axel at the US International Figure Skating Classic in 2017.

“Today was a really unforgettable experience,” Nagasu said. “From the beginning, I was very nervous because this is a team event so I felt responsibility. It is a job. I owe it to my teammates.”