Mirai Nagasu
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Mirai Nagasu reminded of painful memories in Boston return

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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.”

MORE: Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold weigh in on U.S. medal drought

Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

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Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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