Mirai Nagasu skated a downright spectacular short program, earning her a 70.04 point personal best providing the breakout performance of the competition. The camera caught her exclaiming, “yeah!” in the kiss and cry area upon hearing her score. When asked to name her “best moments” of the 2010 World Championships, Lipinski recalled the grin on Nagasu’s face in the final pose of her short program, soaking it all in and “really enjoying the moment.” Weir tried to describe the emotions at play in the final pose of a stellar skate: “That beautiful joy, and just– you know, holding that end position.”
But back to the beginning…
As Nagasu entered the ice Andrea Joyce noted, “What a fighter she has come to be.” Lipinski reflected, “The focus she has just before she skates is amazing.” As such a young skater competing again the likes of Kim Yu-Na and Mao Asada, Nagasu had not been lauded as a skater in contention for a medal at the Olympics, making her fourth place finish quite the fighting statement. Her first place score for the short program declared yet again that Nagasu is, as she likes to say, “the future.”
It was a spectacular performance full of Nagasu’s unparalleled trademark spins, spirals and fluid grace, leading Lipinski to comment, “This is what she does best… I don’t think anybody can match her on the spins orthe spirals… Look at the flexibility, it’s amazing! … She keeps the speed throughout the entire spin.”
Weir exclaimed, “She has to be missing bones in her back! … It’s gorgeous, no one can do that.”
And Lipinski went on to praise the totality of Nagasu’s skating, because of course it is not just about the spins: “[Nagasu] really mastered the ability the art of just skating in and out of a jump… [and] she not only has the flexibility, but she has the jumps.”
Weir also reflected on how inspiring it must be for Nagasu to train with Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, widely regarded as having an incredibly admirable training ethic and total skating style: “Making sure you’re performing from your head to your toes.”
After the short program Nagasu spoke to reporters, remaining grounded in the ongoing battle of competition: “I think it was a good way to do my very last short program this year… I just need to stay focused… It was really important to me to be able to do the triple-triple here after the Olympics.. After the Olympics I’ve been really tired, but I’m glad that I stuck to it and did the best performance that I could here.” She went on to say elude to the hard work ahead for next season to keep her momentum going.
Lipinski closed the discussion on Nagasu’s short program by saying that “Mirai really needs to prove herself and she knows this is the place to do it.”
Unfortunately the pressure would prove to be too much for Mirai Nagasu, who despite a strong lead coming out of the short program (in which she had scored ten points higher than Kim Yu-Na with an out-of-character skate directly following Nagasu), would finish the world championships in seventh place.
Nagasu’s free skate began with Lipinski– who had earlier cautioned Weir’s prediction that Mao Asada would take the gold in favor of Nagasu– solemnly stating, “These next four minutes could really change her career.”
I look back on my notes and I feel devastation.
Nagasu made a mistake on her first jump, downgrading a triple to a double lutz prompting commentators to say that, “She needs to take control now and forget about that.” As she settled into the program recovery seemed possible: “She is in a little bit of a trouble. She just needs to make sure she can get on the podium– but I think she can.”
Nagasu unfortunately continued to have trouble with the take-off on combo and later fell on a double axel landing, prompting: “I think it’s just nerves sitting in first place… knowing you could win your first world championships.”
Instead of a triumphant end pose, Nagasu smacked her head with both hands in frustration. As she came off the ice she apologized to coach Frank Carroll who put things in perspective: “You’re not dead.”
When judges delivered her scores the girl who “showed a lot of spunk and a lot of fight at the Olympics,” and shocked Torino with a phenomenal short program was pushed back into seventh place.
Afterwards, a distraught Nagasu fought back tears to speak with reporters (sidebar: her coach has said such things as “There’s no crying in figure skating,” after Nagasu’s rough 2008/09 season). Nagasu struggled saying, “I just wanted to come here and improve on my performance at the Olympics… and I feel really bad. I’m just gonna work harder and do better next year.” She said she has not been this low since she was eleven. It was a sad story, but it marks the impetus for a season driven by the desire for redemption at the 2011 Worlds, where Nagasu is sure to fight harder than ever before to get onto that podium and take what was almost hers.
As Andrea Joyce said: “[Nagasu] has her eyes looking forward always.” Looking forward to seeing her fight it out next season.