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Mirai Nagasu first United States skater to land triple axel at Olympics

12 February 2018

Mirai Nagasu made her triple axel look elegant and effortless. Eventually, he was bumped to third place as Canada's Patrick Chan put up a score of 179.75 after completing a hard routine that included a successful quad-toe followed by a triple-toe.

What's a triple axel?

The axel is considered so hard because it is the only jump in which the skater takes to the air while facing forward.

The triple axel is more challenging than a typical jump because it requires the skater to make three and a half rotations in the air, not just three. At three and a half rotations, it'sone of the most hard moves in figure skating, famously nailed by Tonya Harding in 1991 at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships - she was the first American woman to land it. Tonya Harding landed the jump in 1991, as did Kimmie Meissner in 2005. Team Canada won the gold while Russian Federation earned silver in figure skating's team event.

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This is Nagasu's second Olympics.

The women's free skate competition Sunday night (Feb. 11) at the Olympics was as mesmerising for the action on the ice as it was for the athletes' choice of music.

She sought to return to the Olympic games in Sochi in 2014, but wasn't selected to the U.S. team in what was a controversial decision.

Nagasu became the third American woman to land the jump in September 2017 at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic.

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USA figure skater Adam Rippon had a strong Olympic debut on Sunday night.

This won't be the last you'll hear of Rippon during the games.

Nagasu homed in on the triple axel.

Even Kristi Yamaguchi, the former Team USA figure skater and Olympic champion, said she was shedding "tears of joy" over Nagasu's achievement.

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"Tonight, the Olympics are truly magical..." "So much fun", Rippon said to NBC's Andrea Joyce. If she skates as well as she did in the team competition, she'll have a legitimate shot at the podium.

Mirai Nagasu first United States skater to land triple axel at Olympics