Mirai Nagasu learned the toughest figure-skating trick at an unusual age after she was left off an Olympic team

Maddie Meyer/Getty

  • Mirai Nagasu made Olympic history on Monday when she landed a triple axel, becoming the first American woman to land the difficult trick in the Olympics.
  • Nagasu apparently began working on the trick four years ago after missing the Sochi Olympics, picking it up at an older age for most figure skaters.
  • Nagasu was reportedly relentless in her pursuit of the move, practicing it up to 30 times a day.
  • The hard work paid off as she helped the U.S. secure a bronze medal in the team event.

Mirai Nagasu made history on Monday in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics when she became the first American woman and third overall to land a triple axel in the Olympics.

The 24-year-old figure skater’s triple axel, which is three-and-a-half rotations, helped the U.S. secure bronze in the team event.

Nagasu got redemption after she missed the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Her triple axel was years in the making, starting almost immediately after she was left off the team.

According to Ice Network’s Philip Hersh, Nagasu began working with her coach, Tom Zakrajsek, four months after missing the Olympic team. According to Hersh, she told Zakrajsek that she wanted to land a triple axel, an unusual request for a skater who was in her early 20s and past the point at which many skaters learn new tricks, particularly the hardest ones.

But Nagasu reportedly practiced the move relentlessly. Zakrajsek told Sports Illustrated’s Alice Park that Nagasu would practice the move about 30 times a day, nailing it 85-95% of the time.

“Mirai craves repetition,” he said.

The training for such a move does not look easy. Nagasu gave a behind-the-scenes look to The Players Tribune.

Zakrajsek also tweeted his support for Nagasu on Monday, saying daily hard work finally paid off.

Being left off the Sochi team may have fuelled Nagasu, but she wouldn’t go as far as to say it was a good thing.

“To be left off the team, it was definitely not a blessing in disguise,” she told Hersh. “But I took that heartbreak and made the decision to change myself and become more responsible and want to improve.”

Nagasu can’t bask in the glory of her performance on Monday for too long, as she has to prepare for her individual events. According to Hersh, she has more triple axels planned.

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