Mirai Nagasu signed off her Winter Olympics campaign with a disappointing routine and an extraordinary interview – in which she claimed credit for “saving” the United States’ team bronze and revealed her main focus for her final performance was that she was “auditioning for Dancing With the Stars.”
Nagasu failed to take off on her famed triple Axel and ended the women’s event in 10th place, yet guaranteed she would receive heavy attention with her explosive post-skate comments.
“I would like to be on Dancing With the Stars because I am a star,” Nagasu, who stuck her triple Axel in the team event, said. “I made history here by landing the first triple Axel for a U.S. lady at the Olympics so I think that is a big deal. I hope I get more opportunities to let my personality just shine.
“I smiled in the middle of my program. It is really rare for me but I enjoyed myself and I thought of this as my audition (for DWTS).”
Several figure skaters, including gold medalist ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis, as well as Vancouver champion Evan Lysacek, have appeared on the hit dancing show.
The U.S. was always considered likely to clinch bronze in the team competition that began the figure skating program. Nagasu’s outstanding effort in the women’s free skate section helped push the Americans over the line, but pairs skaters Alexa and Chris Knierim were rock solid; Bradie Tennell was strong in the women’s short program, Nathan Chen placed fourth despite falling in his routine, leaving Adam Rippon, Maia and Alex Shibutani and Nagasu to simply hold their nerve.
“It’s been a long three weeks, and we got here and got to walk in the opening ceremonies and then I saved the team event, with Adam (Rippon) and the Shibutanis,” Nagasu said. “We were about to lose our medals so today I put my medal in my pocket and said ‘Mirai you have done your job already and this is all just icing.’
“We did (save bronze). We were behind Italy for a good little bit.”
In truth, the U.S. beat eventual fourth-placed Italy by eight points and was never behind them at the end of any of the eight rounds.
Nagasu’s chance of individual hardware realistically disappeared the moment she fell on her triple axel during Wednesday’s short program. Her mother Ikuko told her in advance of Friday’s routine, “who cares if you get last place, making (the Olympics) is the hard part,” she said.
Of not trying her triple axel, Nagaus said, “I didn’t back down and though I got zero points for my triple Axel, in my mind I went for it.”
The 24-year-old finished fourth in Vancouver in 2010 and was controversially left off the 2014 team. It is highly unlikely she attempts to complete another Olympic cycle and was already the oldest member of the American women’s contingent here.
Nagasu was not holding back and also detailed some of the difficulties she had experienced in the Athletes’ Village.
“I have watched my roommates go out and compete and I have still had to go to bed at 8 p.m., which is hard for me,” she said. “I am not used to that and to wake up at 4 a.m. is not easy. It is hard – people don’t see what goes on in the background.
“We’ve had so many other commitments. I also haven’t taken a warm shower because there are a lot of people on Team USA – somehow I keep trying to take a shower and all the hot water is gone.”