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Nagasu Makes History As First American Woman To Land Triple Axel At Olympics
Nagasu is just the third woman to ever land a triple Axel at the Olympics (CCSS Level: Grade 7, Words: 478)
Feb 13, 2018 Sports

Despite finishing third at the national championships in 2014, Mirai Nagasu was passed over for an Olympic berth.

Four years ago, Nagasu was heartbroken after being left off the U.S. team for the Sochi Olympics in favour of a woman who ranked lower than she had at a key qualifying event. Now, finally back at the Olympics, the woman whose Japanese immigrant gave a near-perfect performance, starting with a triple Axel, a move few women can land. (The Associated Press reported that only Midori Ito and Mao Asada of Japan have done it at the Olympics before.) Before the routine was even over, Nagasu was visibly exulting, and her score reflected the impressive performance.

Clearly overjoyed, the 24-year-old Nagasu, who was skating at her second Olympics, pumped her fists and grinned as she skated off the ice.

"I feel really great," she said after her performance. "Going into it, I was like a train, get on those tracks and get some speed. To nail it the way I did -and even out of the corner of my eye, I could see my team mates standing in excitement."

"Four years ago, I was crying with Adam Rippon because we both didn't make the team, I wanted to make another Olympic team, and I know I would really have to be something special, " she said. "I honestly don't think that I would have worked as hard on the triple Axel if I didn't have that time to really contemplate. So to become the first American to land a triple axel at the Olympic Games is historical, and no one can take that away from me." Nagasu placed second to the Russian Alina Zagitova.

Why the triple axel is so rare to pull off:
• You're racing across the ice at full speed and suddenly you skid off the edge of one blade. Your skate goes perpendicular, which forces you to stop moving forward. All that momentum hurls you up into the air instead of across the ice.
• While hanging midair, you spin your body around 3 1/2 rotations in less than a second — estimated by some university studies to be more than 300 revolutions per minute.
• Finally, you land on the foot that you didn't use for the takeoff. And you come down with immense force -- more than four times your body weight. So a 125-pound skater like Nagasu would feel the impact of more than 500 pounds of force on a 1/4-inch thin blade

What makes it so difficult:
1. You have to take off forward, with your blade skidding sideways, and land skating backward.
2. If you slip, you could seriously wipe out. Common injuries are stress fractures, broken bones and hip and knee damage -- some of which could easily ruin careers.
3. Proper air position is critical to completing all 3 1/2 revolutions.

Watch below:

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