None of the United States contingent of Bradie Tennell (who finished ninth), Nagasu (10th) and Karen Chen (11th) skated cleanly in the women's singles here, marking the first time an American woman failed to finish in the top six in any Olympics since World War Two.
Zagitova, 15, and her Russian teammate Evgenia Medvedeva, who is 18 and was second in the short program, are proof. The gold medal will likely come down to a duel between two-time reigning world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva and her 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova, competing as Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation.
Chen did not participate in the team event, when the USA won the bronze medal, so her short program was her Olympic debut.
But the U.S. team was never behind Italy in any of the eight rounds of the team event, according to USA Today.
"You feel so odd because you are older and you must be stronger than them", Medvedeva said.
She was emotionally drained after winning a bronze medal in the team competition.
Which is, well, why she isn't an Olympic champion, except in the field of complaining. They will have some tough competition to face in the short program, but Team USA knows how to deal with the pressure.
"I hope I'll be there with him", she said. She brought that medal with her to the rink for her free skate Friday.
"My focus has been a little bit too much about the medals", Nagasu said.
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How does that point to a women's program in decline?
In an exciting game that went into overtime, the Czech Republic defeated the US men's hockey team in a penalty shot shootout, scoring twice to USA's zero. After making the Olympic team eight years ago in Vancouver and finishing a surprising fourth, she was passed over in 2014 by the USOC, which chose former United States champ Ashley Wagner instead, despite the fact that Nagasu had beaten her at nationals.
"As a result, developing skaters are taught to value simple, clean skates, rather than taking risks on technically more challenging programs", said Rachael Flatt, a 2010 Olympian who teaches part-time at Solar4America Ice in San Jose.
With so much change, said Boitano, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist, people do not develop a strong rooting interest, and the rivalries that generate buzz fail to materialize. While Nagasu's parents are immigrants, she was born in California. So I enjoyed myself and I thought of this as my audition for Dancing with the Stars. "When you're in other cultures it is about doing the best thing about your nation and not really about me, me, me". I'd love to print some out and put them on my wall. But she struggled in this week's individual routines, falling to the ice for the first time all season during a triple lutz attempt Tuesday. She then fell on her triple loop and stepped out on her triple salchow.
"My teammates have really supported me and we've helped each other".
Of course, she could have become a star if she didn't mentally check out of this competition. She said she missed her dogs.
At 2002 Skate America, Yukari Nakano's jump made her the first woman to land the triple axel in 10 years. "We went to the Team USA House on the lunar holiday, and it took four hours just to get to the mountain", she said. After being left off the 2014 Olympic team, which she called "heartbreaking", she noted she isn't the type of athlete to give up.