GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon shared tears of sorrow when they were left off the Olympic team four years ago, each of them passed over in decisions that could have gone either way.
They shed tears of joy together Monday.
The veteran figure skaters put together flawless back-to-back performances, Nagasu becoming the first American woman to land a triple axel in the Olympics, Rippon nailing both of his triple axels. They helped earn the United States the bronze medal in the team competition.
Canada won the gold medal, with the Russians taking the silver.
“For both of us to be on this team, and to be on the same floor in the village, it's all super exciting,” said Nagasu, an Olympian eight years ago in Vancouver. “He won't stop talking about how exciting this all is, and I go: 'Adam! Adam! You know we still have a job to get done? We still have to skate well!' ”
They skated better than well.
It was Rippon who led off the final day of the team event, when the Americans were still in a nip-and-tuck struggle with Italy for the podium.
The 28-year-old, wearing a sequined outfit that sparkled like a million diamonds, dumped a planned quad lutz but otherwise ripped through his routine with confidence and precision.
“It felt worth the 28-year wait, you know?” Rippon said. “I was sitting backstage and I thought: 'You know what? I still feel like I might throw up. And I might miss every element in my program.' But I said: 'You know what? I trained so hard and I know when I get out there I'm going to go for everything, take one element at a time,' and I was able to do that.”
Nagasu, 24, made a long-awaited return to Olympic ice by etching her name in the record books with a triple axel for the ages.
She landed it to a roar from the American contingent seated at one end of the ice, joining Japan's Midori Ito and Mao Asada as the only female skaters to land the jump in Olympic competition.