Watch: The Secret Weapon That Helped Mirai Nagasu Land Her History-Making Triple Axel


Watch: The Secret Weapon That Helped Mirai Nagasu Land Her History-Making Triple Axel

USA Today

By now you've already seen it dozens of times, replayed in slow motion: the flawless triple axel jump that put American figure skater Mirai Nagasu in the record books.

When she landed the jump at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea earlier this month, Nagasu became just the eighth woman to ever land the jump in an international competition, the third woman to land it in the Olympics, and the very first American woman to make the jump at the Olympics.

That's a lot of accomplishments for a skater who's only 24.

But what you don't see in the video of Nagasu's performance is the four years of practice that went into that single jump.

This video breaks down why the triple axel is such a tough jump:

Ice Network reports that when Nagasu didn't make the U.S. Olympic team in the 2014, she knew she had to set herself apart from other skaters.

"To be left off the team, it was definitely not a blessing in disguise," Nagasu said. "But I took that heartbreak and made the decision to change myself and become more responsible and want to improve."

At the time, Nagasu was considered "too old" to learn new jumps, but the determined skater practiced the triple axel 30 times a day until she had it nailed.

And now, a behind the scene video of Nagasu's special training routine shows just how far she was willing to go for perfection.

In the viral video, Nagasu is strapped into a harness called a "fishing pole" while her trainer lifts her up using a cord.

The scary-looking device is called a "Champion Skating Harness," and it lets Nagasu rehearse the perfectly-balanced rotations her jump requires.

Unlike other jumps, the triple axel does not use the skater's back toe to lift off the ground. Instead, skaters use momentum and upper body strength to leap off the outside edge of their front skate and rotate in the air.

But the axel has another devious twist: because the skater is facing forward at the start of the jump, they have to complete an extra half rotation before landing.

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In spite of everything it took to pull off the punishing jump, this is just the start of Nagasu's program, and she takes the seriously impressive feat in stride.

"I have so much more to get through," she said about landing the jump in another competition, "so it was kind of just a thing where I was like, that's one check mark then I have to go on right away."

But don't worry: Nagasu assures her fans there will be more triple axels to see in her individual programs as the Olympics continue.

Were you surprised by all the technique that goes into a single jump?

[H/T: Ice Report, Team USA, Self]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.