Of all the parties involved in the U.S. women’s figure skating collapse yesterday, Mirai Nagasu had perhaps the most baffling performance. Nagasu was considered a dark horse candidate to sneak in for bronze after delivering a big free skate performance in the team event, but she didn’t even attempt her signature triple axel in last night’s free skate, and she undercooked her triple lutz attempt as well.
Nagasu finished 10th, between the two other American skaters, and afterwards, she gave a very strange press conference.
“Although I got zero points for my attempt at the triple axel, in my mind I went for it,” she said, which, sure, okay.
She was asked about the U.S.’s poor performance under pressure, which Nagasu blamed partially on a lack of hot showers, before taking a dig at Canadian skater Gabrielle Daleman: “That’s a very aggressive question. I’d like to point out that Gabrielle Daleman, who is an Olympic gold medalist, didn’t have a strong outing here in the individual.”
Nagasu was part of the American team that earned bronze in the team event, and even though the team did not necessarily need a huge free skate from her and never trailed the Italians, who eventually finished in fourth, Nagasu took credit for saving the team’s medal.
“I saved the team event with Adam and the Shibutanis. We were about to lose our medal. So today I put my medal in my pocket and I said, ‘Mirai, you’ve done your job already. This is all just icing.’”
Nagasu had a long, tortuous journey back to U.S. figure skating after she made the team in 2010 then missed out in 2014. Earning a medal probably was a huge deal for her, and with the immense pressure she’s been under for a decade, it’s understandable and even forgivable that she’d ease off the gas before the free skate. However, that doesn’t quite explain the shots at teammates and opponents, or her insistence that she punted on the free skate to audition for Dancing With the Stars.
“I smiled in the middle of my program, which is very rare for me. I thought of this as my audition for Dancing With the Stars,” she said before adding later, “I would like to be on Dancing With the Stars because I want to be a star.”
Nagasu later expressed her newfound respect for the mental strength of the Olympians around her, and explained why she didn’t attempt a triple axel.