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From cold showers to ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ Mirai Nagasu offers bizarre excuses for poor performance

From cold showers to ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ Mirai Nagasu offers bizarre excuses for poor performance

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – There was hope for a final flourish from the U.S. women’s figure skaters on Friday. It never came.

The free skate on Friday was a little bit sad and a little bit strange, memorable not for the pinnacle of Olympic performance but rather an aborted triple axel and a comment about “Dancing with the Stars.”

Instead of wowing with their precision and execution, the Americans elicited gasps of concern and then offered a list of reasons why this just wasn’t their Games. Bradie Tennell, while improving her overall standing, still finished 47 points out of first. Karen Chen fell and finished 11th. Mirai Nagasu simply didn’t do her most challenging jump, leaving an X on the screens of people watching on TV.

The 2018 Games overall brought the worst collective performance by the U.S. women in memory.

Afterward, Nagasu offered some comments that may not sit too well with some in the skating community.

“It’s been a long three weeks,” she said. “We got here, we got to walk in the Opening Ceremonies, and I saved the team a bit. With Adam and the Shibutanis [in the team skate], we were about to lose our medals. Today I put my medal in my pocket – here she is – and I said, ‘Mirai, you’ve done your job already, and this is just icing.’ ”

She “saved the team”? The U.S. wasn’t likely to lose the bronze even if she skated less well. The free skate, which is usually the climax of the entire Games, is “icing”? It was quite a contrast from Thursday, when a Canadian hockey player was so upset about her silver medal that she refused to wear it for the postgame ceremony.

Nagasu went on: “We went to the Team USA House on the lunar holiday and it took four hours just to get to the mountain. I also haven’t taken a warm shower. There are a lot of people on Team USA and somehow I keep trying to take a shower when all the hot water is gone. Also I’ve woken up so early.”

These aren’t the usual reasons given by an elite athlete after a disappointing performance.

In her defense, the free skate came at the end of a long and tiring fortnight here. All three of the U.S. women said they were exhausted. Nagasu even said, “I want to go home.” Chen said she was used to seeing her mom on a regular basis, and she hurried to say a quick hi before her skate. When speaking about missing her mother in the mixed zone, she started to cry. Tennell also showed a bit of visible sadness when talking about the time away from her mom. This stuff can be overwhelming.

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