Arcadia's Mirai Nagasu inspires SoCal ice skaters with triple axel at Olympics

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Arcadia's Mirai Nagasu is the first American woman to ever land a triple axel at the Olympics, helping the United States secure a bronze medal, and the impact of her performance is being felt in Southern California.

In the Pasadena ice skating community Nagasu is already a champion. Just ask her first coach who started training her at just 5 years old.

"We'd practice every day at six in the morning, even though she'd feel sick, not quite feel well, and she'd still be coming back on the ice to practice. Very hard worker," said former coach Wenxian Zhang.

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The 24-year-old skater, her peers say, never shies away from a challenge on the ice -- like taking on the nearly impossible triple axel.

"It's so hard because you need to have lots of speed, and you have to have lots of strength in your muscles, and you have to jump really high," explained young skater Athena Huang.

When Nagasu attempted what no American figure skater has ever done: land a triple axel in the Olympics, there were nervous skaters watching from Pasadena to Pyeongchang. It was a moment in history her friends won't ever forget.

"I almost cried when she did because I was so happy for her," said Anika Erickson, member of the Pasadena Figure Skating Club.

The countless hours and days leading up to that singular moment are not lost on the budding skaters. The world is their ice rink, and Beijing 2022 is just around the corner.

"It's nice to know that from Pasadena there's someone, like, going to the Olympics," said Erickson. "It's just really inspiring."

Nagasu will compete next on Feb. 20, and her skating club is already hosting a viewing party.
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