Mirai Nagasu reminded of painful memories in Boston return

Mirai Nagasu
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BOSTON — The memories Mirai Nagasu would like to forget fell on her like a curtain when she stepped on the ice at TD Garden on Monday.

“I had a moment of obvious insecurities,” she said after stepping off 35 minutes later, “because it is a hard place to skate for me.”

Nagasu will perform this week at the same arena where she placed a surprisingly strong third at the January 2014 U.S. Championships, but, 13 hours later, did not hear her name called for the three-woman Sochi Olympic team.

Ashley Wagner, who was fourth at the 2014 U.S. Championships, did make the Olympic team due to her strong national and international results in recent seasons, criteria laid out by U.S. Figure Skating well in advance of the competition.

“I did skate two strong programs [in 2014], but I did have some upsetting memories here,” Nagasu said. “I had a moment [at Monday’s practice] where I told [coach] Tom [Zakrajsek], ‘There’s a lot going on right now, but I need to focus.’ I need to get back to the present, which is 2016 Worlds. It’s not Nationals anymore.”

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One week ago, Nagasu didn’t know that she would be here.

She just missed this year’s Worlds team by finishing fourth at Nationals in January but learned Wednesday she would replace injured Sochi Olympian Polina Edmunds on the three-woman U.S. team.

“A whole different kind of pressure was put on me,” Nagasu said.

She’s been preparing for at least two weeks, though. Zakrajsek said U.S. Figure Skating alerted them before the World Junior Championships earlier this month that Nagasu may be asked to replace another skater in Boston.

“I’d like to bank on the fact that I’ve been training strong for the whole season,” Nagasu said.

She can also lean on her last competition, a silver-medal performance at the Four Continents Championships in February. She totaled a personal-best score, bettering U.S. champion Gracie Gold, with her highest result in a top-level international event since November 2011.

Nagasu was once the young phenom of U.S. Figure Skating, winning the 2008 Nationals at age 14 and placing fourth at the 2010 Olympics at 16.

One month after the Vancouver Games, Nagasu led the World Championships after the short program, over a field that included Olympic champion Yuna Kim and silver medalist Mao Asada.

But Nagasu came apart in the free skate, falling to seventh overall. When Nagasu skated off the ice then, her then-coach Frank Carroll told her, “You’re not dead.”

It took Nagasu six years to return to the World Championships.

“It’s a whole different arena,” Nagasu visualized Monday. “I want to make new memories.”

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