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Arcadia's Mirai Nagasu back in the spotlight

Nagasu returns to spotlight with strong performance at U.S. Figure Skating Championship.

January 24, 2013|By Philip Hersh
  • Mirai Nagasu competes in the senior ladies short program at the U.S. figure skating championships.
Mirai Nagasu competes in the senior ladies short program at the U.S. figure… (Nati Harnik / Associated…)

OMAHA Since she emerged from anonymity at age 13 and had an upset win in the junior event at the 2007 U.S. Championships, Mirai Nagasu has rarely been out of the figure skating spotlight.

Prodigiously talented, with an impish personality, Nagasu attracted attention for what she said and what she did.  A senior national title at age 14.  A fourth in the 2010 Olympics at 16.

She is 19 now.  Her skating the last two seasons has been so erratic she came to this nationals as something of an afterthought, no surprise given her seventh place finish at last year's championships.

Nagasu put herself back into everyone's minds Thursday night.

And there was something delightfully ironic about her stopping a slide toward oblivion with a strong short program to a Benny Goodman recording of the upbeat song "Downhill Special."

Starting with a strong triple toe-triple toe combination and ending with a striking layback spin, Nagasu was solid throughout and got 64.39 points, putting her a close third behind defending champion Ashley Wagner (67.57) and Agnes Zawadzki (a too-gracious 65.31, given her fall on a double axel jump). Wagner, who took a hard fall at the Grand Prix Final in December, did a cautious but error-free short program.

Gracie Gold, last year's junior champion, fell on the second jump of her required combination, singled the double axel and wound up ninth at 54.08.

Said Nagasu: "It has really been a comeback year for me.   I have been fighting to get back in shape and get to where I really enjoy skating again."

It has been a back-to-

the-future experience for Nagasu.  She returned to

her childhood choreographer. She found a coach, Wendy Olson, who could work with her 30 minutes from her Arcadia home.

Nagasu now is in position to make her first World Championships since 2010.  The U.S. has just two spots, and although the selection committee has some discretion, the top two after Saturday's free skate will probably make the team.

Twitter: @olyphil

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