Five minutes with figure skater Mirai Nagasu
The Winter Olympics is just days away (the opening ceremony is Friday night) and W magazine’s Editors’ Blog is getting into the spirit. Tune in every day this week for interviews with female athletes going for the gold.
Figure skater Mirai Nagasu says she doesn’t care about winning an Olympic medal. She just wants to have fun. Give it her best. Not worry about the competition. Despite her canned answers, Nagasu, who’s known for her flexibility and super-fast spins, is poised to become the new Olympic sweetheart. At 16, she’ll be one of the youngest skaters at Vancouver and only one of two American girls representing the U.S. in the ladies singles category. (Rachel Flatt, 17, also made the cut.) After much prodding, Nagasu did finally let on to an Olympic wish: “I hope I get a bunch of free stuff while I’m there.” She better bring along a big suitcase.
Congratulations on making it to the Olympics. Are you nervous?
I’m not really thinking about having to compete. I’m just going to keep doing my best and take it as it comes. I’m trying to take the stress off by enjoying my life right now—taking walks with my dog and watching TV and doing homework. Normal teenager things.
How often are you training?
I skate six days a week, three sessions a day, and I go to the gym three times a week. I lift weights, do some ab work and whatever my trainer tells me to do. I take Saturdays off.
Do you sleep all day on Saturdays?
No, I wish but it’s all homework, homework, homework.
Do you have a signature jump on the ice?
A lot of people know me for my speed and my flexibility. I like to jump but I’m not really the best jumper. I’m more of a spinner.
So I can barely even stand on skates. What am I doing wrong?
Well, you should try to take it easy and try to walk on the ice like you’re on the ground. Then you’ll get used to it and be able to push and stroke like a figure skater would.
What if I wanted to spin?
Maybe you could take ballet lessons and learn a pirouette first.
What songs will you skate to at the Olympics?
For the short program, it’s the Pirates of the Caribbean theme and the long program is Carmen.
Did you choose them yourself?
My choreographer and I chose them together. I’m a Pirates of the Caribbean fan and Carmen, well, my choreographer played the piece for me and I really liked it but she told me it’s been used quite a few times. I told her I don’t want to be compared to other skaters but I decided to take the challenge and become the best Carmen out there.
What if others skate to your songs?
I think in the male division there might be someone skating to Pirates and in the girls’ division there are many skating to Carmen. But I’m confident that mine is the best program out there.
What does your skating dress look like?
It’s custom made because it has to fit the story line and my body. The Carmen one is red and black and Spanish-y looking. The Pirates one is black and gold because pirates’ flags are black, and gold is what they’re looking for.
Do you like to shop?
I’m really good at window shopping, or I’ll go into a store and just choose one thing.
What’s the last thing you bought?
A makeup brush at Nordstrom.
You should buy yourself a bigger present after the Olympics.
Maybe. But hopefully I’ll get a lot of gifts from other people as well.
What would you like?
I’d appreciate anything. I like to keep my options open.
See our previous interviews with this year’s olympians
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Portrait: NBC/USOC; Skating: Leah Adams