The women’s figure skating portion of the Winter Olympic Games has always been a personal favorite of mine. This year, a number of extremely talented Asian figure skaters including American Mirai Nagasu, whom I wrote about in a previous blog, South Korea’s “Ice Queen” Kim Yu-Na and Japan’s Mao Asada—have taken both the ice skating rink and world by storm.
Coming into the Vancouver Olympics as the favorite, Kim Yu-Na had the weight of South Korea’s expectations on her shoulders. Amazingly, this pressure did not faze her. Kim’s short program and free skate were both artistically stunning, full of grace and personality, and technically flawless, earning her a record-breaking 150.06 points on her free program for a total of 228.56—winning her the coveted gold medal. Her rival, Japan’s Mao Asada, fought a good fight as she captured silver with 205.50 points. Mao also set a new standard, as she became the first woman ever to land two triple axels in an Olympic program.
However, the real surprise of the competition was Mirai Nagasu’s fourth place finish. Although Mirai flew mostly under the radar due to the star rivalry between Kim and Mao, at just 16 years old in her first Olympics, she did more than hold her own. Aside from downgrading a triple-triple combination to a triple-double, the rest of Mirai’s short program was perfect–it had flawless spins, terrific spiral sequences, and intricate footwork. In fifth place after the short program, Mirai had nothing to lose. She skated a terrific free program, landed triple jumps when they mattered the most, and truly proved herself as a skater to watch in the future. While Kim Yu-Na and Mao Asada’s experience and cultivated artistry predictably pulled them into the lead, Mirai should be extremely proud of her fourth place result.
This year’s Olympic skating program was thrilling and unforgettable. And one thing is for certain: keep an eye out for Mirai in 2014—she’ll be a contender for the gold.
Photos: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times; Jerry Lampen/Reuters; AFP/Getty Images; Squire/Getty; english.chosun.com; AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev; Matthew Stockman/Getty Images; Amy Sancetta, Associated Press