GANGNEUNG, South Korea - She had been so down, so utterly devastated at having been left off the 2014 Olympic team in a controversial but justified decision. The day that happened, Mirai Nagasu skated an exhibition program at the U.S. championships gala with teary eyes and a shattered soul.
At that low point in her lengthy career, and for much of the next three years, it was almost impossible to imagine Nagasu blissfully soaring the way she did Monday, reaching a height no U.S. woman had attained in the history of Olympic figure skating: landing a clean triple axel.
And not just any triple axel: a brilliantly executed 3 1/2 revolutions in the air, followed by a totally secure landing.
It began a thoroughly sparkling performance that would lead her teammate, Adam Rippon, to cry for joy while watching Nagasu from the U.S. team box at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
It was a feeling undoubtedly shared by anyone familiar with Nagasu's emotionally charged story.
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