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

Kitzbuehel hosts Hahnenkamm weekend; Mikaela Shiffrin speeds up; Alpine World Cup TV, live stream info

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The world’s most daring Alpine skiers descend the most famous annual race this weekend, while Mikaela Shiffrin tackles her own challenge, live on NBC Sports.

The men’s World Cup stops in Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the Hahnenkamm. The granddaddy is Saturday’s downhill, sandwiched between Friday’s super-G and Sunday’s slalom.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been among the celebrity attendees in the finish area. Lindsey Vonn will be on hand this weekend, inspecting the course.

The Streif downhill track is a two-minute, two-mile test of guts: a 3,000-foot drop at an average 65 miles per hour (and maxing out much faster than that). Crashes are commonplace. A helicopter is at the ready to airlift skiers to the nearest hospital.

“You go into the starting gate, and it’s intimidating,” said American Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who makes his Kitzbuehel downhill debut on Saturday. “You don’t really know how it’s going to go. You think it’s just going to be kind of chaos.”

Cochran-Siegle, whose uncle Bob Cochran was the first American to earn a World Cup podium in the race in 1973, used two words to describe the Streif: fun … and fear.

The only American to win the Hahnenkamm downhill was Daron Rahlves in 2003. The last podium finisher was Bode Miller in 2014. The best U.S. finish the last four years was 10th.

Bryce Bennett took confidence from finishing seventh at a World Cup downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, last Saturday. That’s the best U.S. downhill finish this season outside of the home snow of Beaver Creek, Colo.

“Team morale is good, and it’s been great all season long,” said Steven Nyman, who was fifth in 2015. “We’re looking for those top-tier performances. Bryce’s seventh is a good step forward. We all know we can ski well, and it’s cool as a team we’re pushing toward the top, but we’re not there yet.”

Over in Bansko, Bulgaria, Shiffrin is expected to race downhills Friday and Saturday and a super-G on Sunday. They would mark the slalom ace’s first downhills outside of Lake Louise and Cortina d’Ampezzo, which she’s contested a combined 10 times.

Shiffrin made the podium of her last super-G in St. Moritz and her last downhill in Lake Louise, both in December. She’s coming off surprising results in slaloms and giant slaloms, not having won in her last five starts overall.

Still, Shiffrin leads the World Cup overall standings by a substantial 199 points with a tour-leading four outright victories this season.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Friday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Super-G NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Downhill NBC Sports Gold
9 a.m.* Women’s Downhill NBCSN
Sunday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
4:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 1 NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 2 NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m.* Women’s Super-G NBCSN
Monday 1 p.m.* Kitzbuehel Highlights NBCSN

*Delayed broadcast

Maya Moore withdraws from Olympic consideration

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Maya Moore, the U.S. second-leading scorer at the Rio Olympics, withdrew her name from Tokyo Olympic consideration and will skip a second straight WNBA season.

Moore is on hiatus from competitive basketball to focus on criminal justice reform. Specifically, the case of a man who was sentenced to 50 years in prison but Moore believes is innocent, according to The New York Times.

USA Basketball confirmed Wednesday’s Times report that Moore took her name out of consideration for the 12-player Tokyo Olympic team, which is expected to be named in late spring or early summer.

“We are going to miss Maya tremendously, but we also respect her decision,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said, according to the report. “A player of Maya’s ability does not walk away from the gym lightly. Everyone feels it. The thing that makes her so special is her approach, her dedication, which has always been contagious for our team.”

Moore last played for the U.S. in major competition at the Rio Olympics. She was one of the leaders on a team that earned a sixth straight gold medal. Moore started all eight games and averaged 12 points per game, second on the team behind fellow former University of Connecticut star Diana Taurasi.

Breanna Stewart, another former UConn standout, entered the starting lineup at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Moore’s absence and earned tournament MVP. Stewart is returning after missing the entire 2019 WNBA season with an Achilles tear.

Moore also started five games at the 2012 London Olympics as the team’s youngest player.

Moore, 30, said “this is not the time” to retire, according to the Times, but it’s unknown when she might return to the national team or to the WNBA, where she won four titles and an MVP with the Minnesota Lynx from 2011-18.

“I got to experience the best of my craft, and I did that multiple times,” Moore said, according to the report. “There is nothing more I wish I could experience.”

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