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Mirai Nagasu - Competitive Teenager Up for National Challenge

Mirai Nagasu has become rebellious. Her own words. The 15-year-old Arcadia, Calif. native put it down to a by-product of adolescence.

“I don’t want to do homework or wake up at 5 a.m. but I know I have to if I want to continue doing what I love,” she said. “I know I need to be strict with myself and if I get through the hard stuff now…my adolescence is just something I have to get past.”

But it has not stopped Nagasu from training hard. She said she is excited and ready to compete at the national championships in Cleveland next week. “I am just really competitive in general. I have this competitive streak in me,” she said. "I see Evan and Johnny and they inspire me so much."

Nagasu, who competed at the senior Grand Prix level for the first time this season, placed fifth at Skate America and eighth at NHK Trophy. “It was a great experience and I had a fun time and enjoyed myself,” she said. “This year was a learning experience. Hopefully I will be able to prepare myself better next time.”

But the feisty teenager was suffering from a right ankle injury, a fact she had kept quiet. “I got an injury over the summer due to careless training,” she admitted. “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.

“(The injury) has helped me realize I am not as young as I was last year. I need to look after my body.”

After the NHK competition, Nagasu went to see a doctor in Palm Springs. “He gave me exercises which I am doing. I have done less flips and Lutzes in my practice sessions which has lessened the stress on my injury,” she said. “I think it is a pinched nerve because there is nothing wrong with my bones.”

Nagasu went through a major growth spurt that affected her jumping technique, which she believes contributed to her injury. The 2008 national champion said she grew four inches in a little over a year (4-foot-11 to 5-foot-3).

“I did not think it would make a difference but it does,” she said. “Last year I could not see over the rink wall and now I can. I am getting used to the height difference. I don’t think it has affected my speed but it has affected my jumps.”

“Hopefully I can get past it and do well at nationals. It was bothering me on my flip and Lutz jumps – but this week I have been getting them back under control and hopefully I can do well (in Cleveland).

“I am going in nationals just to show everyone I love to skate. This competition is not a competition against other skaters but just against myself. I hope I can overcome my nerves. I am really looking forward to taking these experiences and running away with them.

“Age does not really matter in skating but now I am getting older and adolescence has hit me,” she admitted. “I have to say that it was a lot easier being 14 last year and having no pressure.”