She had her share of ups and downs in PyeongChang, but one Olympian has set her sights on a new goal. History-making figure skater Mirai Nagasu wants to go on Dancing with the Stars. And, after the roller coaster of a journey she's been through at the 2018 Olympics, she more than deserves it. She's experienced probably the highest high of her career and also had to cope with immense disappointment, all in a very short time frame. But it's easy to see the ambition and optimism that brought Nagasu to the Olympics in the first place, because, when it came to discussing next steps, she held nothing back.
In a conversation with reporters on Friday afternoon in South Korea, the 24-year-old shared what, for her, was a moment of triumph in the individual free skate. Although the performance wasn't enough to bring her to the podium, Nagasu still sees it as a victory. "I smiled in the middle of my program, which is really rare for me," she revealed. "So I enjoyed myself, and I thought of this as my audition for Dancing with the Stars."
The young American placed 10th overall, between her teammates Bradie Tennell and Karen Chen, who finished 9th and 11th, respectively.
But while certainly disheartening, Nagasu refused to view the disappointing performance of Team USA or her own Olympic showing as a loss. Instead, she's looking to the future, telling reporters at the Games:
"I would like to be on Dancing with the Stars because I want to be a star. And I made history here by landing the first triple axel for a U.S. lady and third at the Olympics, so I think that’s a big deal."
It's easy to let Olympic achievements be eclipsed by disappointments, so the figure-skater reminding everyone of the context here is important. As she mentions, Nagasu became the first-ever American woman to land a triple-axel at the Olympics, and just the third overall. That's an achievement that will stand in the history books long after everyone has forgotten who medaled in each particular year.
But if we're talking medals, Nagasu didn't come away from the 2018 Games empty-handed. Her aforementioned performance in the team skate helped Team USA snag a bronze when all seemed lost, a fact she reminded fans of during her interview with press. "I saved the team event with Adam [Rippon] and the Shibutanis. We were about to lose our medal." The context that bears repeating here is that all of these so-called disappointments are taking place at the Olympics. A global stage where everyone is competing against the literal best in the world, under a tremendous amount of pressure.
And, in Nagasu's case, this is happening at her second Olympics, which she reached by fighting her way back from an eight-year hiatus after she failed to make the team in 2014. Those are huge odds she's already overcome, so a fall during her short program — while heart-breaking — isn't going to be her takeaway.
"Today I put my medal in my pocket — here she is — and I said, ‘Mirai, you’ve done your job already and this is all just icing,’ and it has been so emotionally draining. But this is what I wanted and I’ve been crying every day since the team event because I was so happy. But then we had to keep training and training and training, and we’re just exhausted. And it’s a lot to go out there and represent our country."
It's refreshing to hear an athlete speak so openly about this insane roller coaster she's been on. But throughout the ups and downs of competition, Nagasu has kept a great attitude, and her confidence and ambition should be rewarded with a stint on DWTS. This Olympian has proven herself as tenacious, and she shouldn't be counted out.