Figure skating: Obstacles bridged, Kostner savors last Olympics

Nick Sanchez
February 25, 2018

There will be no medals Friday for Mirai Nagasu of Arcadia, who stands ninth after falling on her trademark triple axel jump, Karen Chen, who is 10th, or USA champion Bradie Tennell, who is 11th, and it will be the third straight Olympics without a top-three finish by an American woman. She and Evgenia Medvedeva each scored 156.65 in the free skate, but Zagitova won the short program with a world-record score to edge her sobbing teammate by 1.31 points.

The arrival of Mirai Nagasu has been one of the best stories of these Olympic Games, this triple axel-landing figure skater, audience-engaging storyteller, Adam Rippon-rooming Athlete Village dweller, and overall Olympic-owning killer personality is a delightful package wrapped in glitter and cat eye makeup. She has skated clean short and long programs since she competed in Skate America and USA nationals and debuted at the Olympics with a clean short program in the team event. "I have great people surrounding me here and I like being here, all my friends are here and I didn't really see the point of moving and kind of changing my entire lifestyle when what I'm doing here is working".

She was emotionally drained after winning a bronze medal in the team competition. 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.

Zhou, for instance, is is the youngest U.S. Olympian this year at 17, and his quadruple lutz in the men's short program was the first in history.

At age five, Tennell was obsessed with skating, however, "This kid couldn't jump on two feet", her mom admitted. "We were about to lose our medal", Nagasu said.

In truth, the US beat eventual fourth-placed Italy by eight points and was never behind them at the end of any of the eight rounds.

Nagasu placed fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and didn't make it to the 2014 Sochi games.

She didn't want to race on back-to-back days, like she did with the giant slalom and slalom, where she entered as the defending champion and finished fourth.

Watching the free skate program was unnecessary to figure out how the women's individual figure skating competition ended for the United States. It's very inspirational. I think she will inspire so many skaters that the impossible is possible. It's a lot to handle here at the Olympics, but I'm having a good time and I'll take this experience and cherish it forever.

Meanwhile, the Americans who once dominated the sport have been forced to play catch-up, just like the rest of the world.

Despite her unfortunate tumble, Nagasu received an outpouring of love and support from fans on Twitter. "I thought of this [the women's free skate] as my audition for 'Dancing with the Stars'". "I don't. I'm not a happy camper in the world of skating today". She salvaged the program by following up with a successful a triple loop-double-toeloop-double loop combination.

Of course, she could have become a star if she didn't mentally check out of this competition. "I stand to show that you don't give up, you keep going". I hate to value her jump less than other athletes'.

Detractors say the sport has become a jumping contest and bemoan the calculated tactics of Zagitova, who backloaded all of her jumps into the final two minutes where they're subject to a 10% technical bonus meant to reward stamina. Olympic gold medalist and figure skating commentator Tara Lipinski said Chen would be a "contender" if she got her jumps "under control".

"It seems like there's just a lull in the talent and the consistency and the level of skating that's going on today, " she said.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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