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Mirai Nagasu makes commentating debut at U.S. Championships

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By Colton Wood

DETROIT – Mirai Nagasu sat tall in a chair in front of three cameras and two LED stage lights, which brought out the features of her face and brightened the white jacket she donned.

Instead of lacing up her skates for the 13th consecutive year at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Nagasu, the first American woman to land a triple Axel in Olympic competition, was behind a desk, holding a microphone.

Nagasu had hip surgery in September; her body isn’t fully healed yet to allow her to get back to competitive figure skating.

But Nagasu couldn’t see herself confined to watching nationals at her home, especially after seeing several of her idols – Kristi Yamaguchi, Meryl Davis and Charlie White – come to nationals year after year despite no longer skating competitively.

“Yes, they might all be Olympic champions, and I may have missed those qualifications,” Nagasu said, “but at the same time, I want to give back in a way that I’m capable of.”

She then reached out to U.S. Figure Skating, hoping to find a way to come to nationals in Detroit through a different route.

Shortly after that conversation, Nagasu was given the opportunity to join the Bridgestone Ice Desk crew as an analyst for nationals.

On Thursday, just moments before the pairs’ short program commenced, Nagasu had her broadcast debut.

“I’m used to being in front of the camera, and I enjoy it,” Nagasu said, “but being out on the Jumbotron and being live and not being able to make mistakes, is something I’m not always used to.”

Nagasu said she enjoys watching a multitude of different analytical shows, and realized that to be a broadcaster, you have to be quick on your feet and deliver your answers with “your own twist and your own personality.”

Sitting between host Nick McCarvel and former competitive skater Brooke Castile, Nagasu’s smile shone bright throughout her debut.

She looked confident, which Nagasu admitted was sometimes faked.

“Fake it ’till you make it,” she joked.

Nagasu said she wants to branch out of skating as well, and the opportunity to work on the Ice Desk is a prime beginning.

“For me to be given the opportunity to be a part of the Ice Desk, is something I am really grateful for,” she said. “I’m grateful to my skating and to have found it at such a young age; I think that’s where I’m at right now – being humble and being grateful for everything I have in my life.”

MORE: Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation brings skating stars to Detroit ahead of U.S. Championships

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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MORE: World Wrestling Championships TV Schedule

Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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MORE: 2019 Senior Grand Prix assignments