Mirai Nagasu, the 2008 U.S. ladies champion, will not compete at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships due to injury. Katrina Hacker will take Nagasu's spot at the global event, which takes place Feb. 23–March 1 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Nagasu suffered an injury to her right ankle earlier in the season and has yet to fully recover. “After the U.S. Championships, I met with my doctor and was advised to take some time off to heal,” said Nagasu who placed fifth at the 2009 U.S. Championships. “It was a very hard decision to make, but my doctor and I agreed that it was in my best interest.”
Hacker’s senior international debut came at the 2008 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, where she placed sixth. This season, she finished eighth at the Cup of China and sixth at both the NHK Trophy and the U.S. Championships.
“I am very excited and honored to have the opportunity to compete at junior Worlds,” said Hacker. “I wish Mirai a speedy recovery, and I hope to represent the United States as well as she would have.”
The World Junior Championships will take place at the Winter Sport Hall and will begin Tuesday, Feb. 24 with the compulsory dance and the pairs short program.
Last season Nagasu, at 14 years and nine months, became the second-youngest U.S. ladies champion. Only Tara Lipinski was younger when she won her crown in the late 90s. Nagasu is the first lady since Joan Tozzer (1937-38) to win the U.S. junior and senior titles in consecutive years.
“I haven’t been on the ice since U.S. Championships,” Nagasu said. “It’s not bad, but I’m not going to step back on the ice until we’re confident that my pain is gone.”
The injury occurred due to what Nagau described as careless training on her part. “Last year I could just go right on to the ice (without any preparation) but I realized I need to warm up my muscles and stretch before I go onto the ice now," she said in a teleconference call before nationals. "(The injury) has helped me realize I am not as young as I was last year. I need to look after my body.”
Earlier this season, Nagasu finished fifth at Skate America and eighth at the NHK Trophy. “This year was a learning experience," she said. "Hopefully I will be able to prepare myself better next time.”
Since last season, Nagasu has had a growth spurt. She was 4-foot-11 when she won her U.S crown. She is now 5-foot-3. "I did not think it would make a difference but it does,” she said.
Click here to read about Nagasu's thoughts as she prepared for the 2009 U.S. Championships.