Mirai Nagasu has never backed down from a challenge. She was one of the youngest competitors to win a national title in 2008 and remarkably has remained one of the top competitors in the world today. In January, Mirai earned a spot to represent the US in the Olympics at the age of 24.
Recently at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Mirai made history by becoming the first American woman to land a triple Axel in an Olympic Winter Games. She performed the difficult three-and-a-half revolution jump, helping Team USA win a bronze medal in the Olympic team event.
As the daughter of Japanese immigrants, Mirai holds dual citizenship in the United States and Japan. She notes the importance of her mixed heritage, embracing the blend of U.S. and Japanese culture saying, “Surprisingly, we don't have that many culture clashes. My family has kind of created our own culture...it should be called "Jamerican." We've mixed both cultures and formed it into our everyday life! For instance, we eat hamburgers and noodles; we speak a mixture of the two languages, (Japanese and English) etc.”
Mirai began skating at the age of five, citing the fortuitous beginnings to her love of the ice. “Due to typical sunny beautiful California weather, my parents always loved to take me to play golf with them...but one rainy day, my mom decided to take me ice skating and that's when I knew I wanted to keep skating...Bye bye golf!”
Mirai quickly took the skating world by storm.
Mirai won the U.S. junior national title at 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Washington. The following year, in St. Paul, Minnesota, she won the U.S. senior title --- an incredible feat for any skater.
In 2010, with the Olympics on the line, Mirai came through like a star. She placed second at 2010 U.S. Championships in Spokane, Washington. Mirai stole the show, lighting up the rink with her energy, poise and infectious smile. She placed a very respectable 4th place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
In the ensuing years, Mirai battled injuries and coaching changes, but her passion for skating never wavered.
In 2014, she came so close to qualifying for the Olympics a second time. Mirai placed third at the U.S. Championships in 2014, but was left off the Olympic Team in favor of Ashley Wagner. Some skaters might have quit after such a heartbreaking disappointment, but that setback did not deter Mirai. It only made her stronger.
Mirai placed fourth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and represented Team USA at the 2016 World Championships, where she placed in the top ten. She then placed fourth again at the 2017 U.S. Championships.
Under the guidance of coach Tom Zakrajsek in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mirai made it one of her goals to become one of a select group of women in the world to tackle the triple axel jump. She has landed it in competitions, becoming the only American woman to do so in both short and long programs.
In January 2018, Mirai was the buzz of the national championships, and she was praised by many for her dedication to the sport and for coming back after the sting of missing the Olympic Team in 2014. She also proved she is still one of the toughest competitors as she won the silver medal. Mirai was so emotional after her free skate that she sobbed in the kiss and cry. This time, they were tears of joy. Mirai had made it back to the U.S. Olympic Team.
“I really took time to remodel myself, because I didn’t want to feel that regret,” Mirai
said during the announcement on NBC’s “Today” show. “This has been about my journey and my goal to get here. To accomplish it last night has been a dream come true.”
Mirai graduated Capistrano Connections Academy in 2011. She is enrolled in the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and has been taking business classes. Mirai has three dogs: Lexi, Lincoln & Liberty. She is an athlete Ambassador for the charity Right To Play.