Mirai Nagasu To Return To World Figure Skating Stage After Career Disappointments
The U.S. figure skater will compete at next week's World Figure Skating Championships in Boston.
Mirai Nagasu is returning to the world skating spotlight.
The 22-year-old, who is of Japanese American descent, has been named as a late entry to the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships, which begin next week in Boston. Nagasu will compete alongside -- and against -- teammates Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner.
Nagasu finished fourth at the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January and was named as an alternate to the three-person team. However, silver medalist Polina Edmunds has pulled out of the sport's most prestigious annual event, citing a bone bruise in her right foot.
"While the decision to withdraw is disappointing, I don't want to compete at the world championships without performing my hardest technical elements," Edmunds said in a press release on Wednesday. "I go to competition with the goal of representing Team USA to the best of my ability and performing my strongest programs. I will take time to recover and am looking forward to preparing for next season.
Edmunds' withdrawal means Nagasu will compete at Worlds for the first time since 2010, where she placed seventh.
One month after the U.S. Championships, Nagasu won the silver at the 2016 Four Continents Championship, defeating national champion Gold as well as other competitors from skating powerhouses Japan and Canada. That was supposed to be her last competition of the season, but as an alternate she kept up her fitness level by performing in shows.
"I've still be training. It's nice to have these shows to keep my stamina up and keep me motivated," Nagasu told The Skating Lesson blog last week. She'll need to be in top shape when she takes home ice against Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia and Satoko Miyahara of Japan, and of course, Gold and Wagner.
Nagasu has been somewhat overshadowed two teammates in recent years due to her uneven competitive record.
After winning the U.S. title in 2008 as a 14-year-old, she struggled with growth and injury, only to rally and finish 4th at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. She seemed poised to make her Olympic return in 2014 after winning the bronze medal at Nationals. But her dreams were dashed when a selection committee controversially named 4th-place finisher Wagner to the team instead of Nagasu.
"I had a feeling I wasn't going to make it [to Sochi] on the podium and afterwards," she recently recounted to TSL's Jenny Kirk and David Lease. "It wasn't the same feeling I had after the 2010 Nationals. It just wasn't there. It's the worst when those doubts come true."
Images of a tearful Nagasu caused outrage, particularly in the Asian American community. There were accusations that race played a factor in the decision. At the time, Nagasu responded, "Though I may not agree with it, I have to respect the decision the federation made. I'm grateful to everyone who has supported me and look forward to what comes next in my skating career."
The disappointment of 2014 took a long time for Nagasu to get over.
"I cried a lot. I didn't know I could cry that much. But I think it's made me a lot stronger as a person ... The great thing about skating and sports in general is it teaches you so much. It teaches you to become stronger and handle things better."
But now she's ready to make the most of this opportunity:
"I've only gone to Worlds once and I've always wanted to go back."
She'll have her chance when she takes center ice next Thursday back on figure skating's biggest stage.