The criticism piled on quickly for American Mirai Nagasu after the ladies’ free skate.
Not because of her underwhelming performance – she placed 10th overall after botching several of her jumps – but because of her puzzling post-game interview.
The two-time Olympian offered up bizarre excuses for her and Team USA’s lackluster showing in PyeongChang. Everything from the lack of a warm shower to the early wake up time to the team competition two weeks earlier was to blame for the US’s worst showing in decades.
No one bought it and days later Nagasu offered a tearful apology in an interview with People magazine and attempted to clarify her post-skate sentiments.
The ‘Dancing with the Stars’ comment, where she said her skate was essentially an audition for the show, was a tactic her sports psychologist recommended to distract her from the pressure of the moment.
It wasn’t meant, Nagasu said, to come across as ungracious or flippant.
It was a result from mental exhaustion.
“I don’t know if I can stress enough how mentally exhausting this all is…I feel especially bad that my comments weren’t a good representation of me and I came off really poorly,” she said,
She continued with apologizing to her USA teammates. Nagasu had said on Friday that she and men’s figure skater Adam Rippon “saved” the team competition for the Americans.
Yes Nathan Chen had a bad short program – though not as bad as his skate in the men’s competition. But pairs figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim and ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani put up season best scores to help the US hold off Italy for the bronze.
“I feel really, really awful about the things I said,” Nagasu said on Saturday. “I feel bad that people think that I was throwing my teammates under the bus because I never wanted to come off that way.”
But her biggest apology was saved for someone else: Canadian Gabrielle Daleman.
When reporters asked about why the American women were unable to handle the pressure of the Olympics, Nagasu answered by bringing up Daleman, who had won gold in the team event, but finished 15th overall in the individual event.
“I’d like to point out that Gabrielle Daleman, who’s an Olympic gold medalist, also didn’t have a strong outing here.” Nagasu told the media.
Daleman did have a poor showing – even worse than Mirai’s. She fell multiple times on the ice and cried, heartbroken, at the end of her performance. But she didn’t try to offer any paper-thin excuses either.
Mirai, unfortunately, did.
“I just truly related to her in that moment and we both had disappointing free skates,” Nagasu said, “and I just shouldn’t have brought her into it to be honest. I think above all else our job here is to represent Team USA to the best of our ability, and I didn’t do that yesterday and that’s something I have a lot of regret about.”