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Mirai Nagasu Makes Winter Olympics History With Triple Axel

24-year-old Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to nail a triple axel jump at the Olympics last night, and her flawless routine earned her a score of 137.53.

If you’re wondering why everyone’s making such a fuss, this video from Vox explains the physics and history of the triple axel, and why it’s such a big deal (there’s also a great scene in I, Tonya about the physical feat around Tonya Harding being the first woman to land one at a competitive event):

Naturally, the internet celebrated her amazing jump and our hearts swelled with patriotic pride:


The skater had been snubbed in 2014 for a position on the Sochi Olympic team, and many were unhappy that the third spot was awarded to Ashley Wanger instead. The Washington Post writes that after that, Nagasu “doubled down on her commitment to the sport” with a new coach and increased dedication. There was never any doubt about Nagasu’s talent: at 13, when she won the U.S. junior title and at 14 she became the second youngest to win the U.S. senior ladies title. On the 2010 Olympic team, she placed fourth at the age of 16. She’s proved herself time and time again. However, many saw in her historic triple axel an answer to the 2014 snub—no one could dispute her talent now and her rightful place. It’s clear to see her hard work paid off.

Nagasu continued to celebrate, tweeting that she had “No words” and reveling in the fact that she had made Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Davis, Lea Salonga (especially sweet when you consider she skated to music from the Miss Saigon soundtrack), and Kristi Yamaguchi proud.

Congrats to Nagasu and the American team!

(image: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

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