Feb. 11 (UPI) — Figure skater Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics on Monday in Gangneung, South Korea.
The 24-year-old pulled off the move during her free skate at the Gangnueung Ice Arena. She was the first of five women to perform the skate on the final day of competition for an Olympics team medal. It was her first jump in a 4.5 minute program.
Her skate helped put Team USA on the podium for a bronze medal in the mixed team final. Canada won the event and the Olympic Athletes from Russia finished with a silver medal.
Nagasu began her routine with the U.S. team sitting in third place. She completed the triple axel and several other rotations, wrapping up a smooth skate with an explosion of emotion.
Nagasu pumped her firsts before her final score of 137.53 was revealed.
A triple axel involves 3.5 revolutions in one jump.
“I’m super happy to feel all of my teammates’ support,” Nagasu told NBC after her skate. “Even before I started, because I almost got a deduction. It was really cool and I love that they tried to help me and at the end. I heard Alexis say, ‘you did it, girl. So that is a lot of excitement.”
“This is why we are here, to be a part of team USA and to support each other. So this has been a really cool and unforgettable experience.”
“To nail that triple axle…I tripped a couple times going into it because I was so nervous, but I had to tell myself, ‘no, I’m gonna go for it 100 percent and not pull back. That was really special for me.”
Nagasu finished in second place in the women’s free program of the mixed team final. Russian Olympic athlete Aline Zagitova scored a 158.08 to lead that competition.
Japan’s Midori Ito and Mao Asada are the only other female figure skaters to land a triple axel at the Winter Games. Tonya Harding and Kimmie Meissner completed the jump in competitions outside of the Olympics.