At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Team USA women’s figure skater Mirai Nagasu is one to watch. Ten years ago, at 14, Mirai won the women’s US national title and made her Olympic debut at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, where she placed fourth. Mirai, now 24, is back on the world stage at this Winter’s event. This time, she already made history, becoming the first American woman to land a triple axel on Olympic ice during her long program in the team competition. She’s hoping to be waving from the podium with her gold medal! These are seven reasons you’ll want to watch her when she hits the rink.
Mirai first got on the rink at 5 years old, but it wasn’t intentional. She has said her parents used to take her golfing every day because that is the career they wanted for her. One rainy day, they took her ice skating instead, and that’s when it all began. “After that I kept asking to be taken to the skating rink,” she said on her official website.
When She Isn’t Competing, She’s Studying
With her rigorous training schedule, Mirai still finds time to attend college. She is a full-time student at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, studying international business. “I do it because I like having the balance of education and athleticism,” she told NBC Olympics. “When I come home from training, my attention immediately has to focus on my school courses, which helps keep the stress level balanced.” She attributes coffee to helping her get it all done.
Mirai faced a setback in 2014 when she didn’t make the Sochi Olympic team after competing in the 2010 Olympics. She has called that year the biggest heartbreak of her life, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying again.
She Has 3 Dogs
They are all rescues. Named Lexi, Liberty, and Lincoln, she says they are always there to lift her spirits. “Although they’re not actually licensed, they are my emotional support animals. I say that because whether I’ve had a horrible day or a great day at the rink, they are always happy to see me, and their happiness is addictive,” she told NBC Olympics. “Lincoln also sleeps in my arms at night, which I’ve read decreases stress and anxiety.”
During ice skating season, Mirai keeps a strict diet that includes mostly fruits and vegetables, which help to fuel her energy. Post-competition season, she loves a good cheat meal. Her go-to is a cheeseburger, potato chips, and ice cream.
Her Parents Run a Restaurant in California
Mirai’s parents are Japanese and own a sushi restaurant in Arcadia, CA, called Kiyosuzu. Mirai said in a recent Reddit “Ask Me Anything”: “Be kind to my mom, her English isn’t the best but that’s how you know you’re getting authentic sushi.”
Michelle Kwan Is Her Idol
The ice skater says she didn’t have a definitive moment when she knew she wanted to be an Olympic athlete, but after she saw Michelle Kwan skating at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, she was hooked. “Every time that I see Michelle Kwan, I’m awe struck because she is the epitome of a role model. She’s always so nice to everyone, and the way she conducts herself is something I truly admire,” she said in her Reddit AMA.
You can watch Mirai in action when the Winter Olympics begin on Feb. 8. For more information, visit Team USA.