Mirai Nagasu is trading in her skates for dancing shoes on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.”
She is paired with dancing pro Alan Bersten.
The two-time Olympian made it known that she dreamed of appearing on the dancing reality show, which has seen Kristi Yamaguchi and Apolo Anton Ohno claim the coveted Mirrorball Trophy.
In an interview in February after the figure skating final, Nagasu said, “I smiled in the middle of my program, which is really rare for me. So I enjoyed myself and I thought of this as my audition for ‘Dancing with the Stars.’” The four-week event starts on Monday, April 30, at 8 p.m.
Nagasu has never backed down from a challenge. She was one of the youngest competitors to win a national title in 2008 and remarkably has remained one of the top competitors in the world today. She earned a spot to represent the U.S. in the 2018 Olympics at the age of 24, where she made history by becoming the first American woman to land a triple Axel in an Olympic Winter Games. She performed the difficult three-and-a-half revolution jump, helping Team USA win a bronze medal in the team event.
An only child, she was born to Kiyoto and Ikuko Nagasu and raised in Arcadia, where her parents own a sushi restaurant. As the daughter of Japanese immigrants, she holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Japan.
She began skating at the age of five, citing the fortuitous beginnings to her love of the ice. She quickly took the skating world by storm. She won the U.S. junior national title at the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Wash. The following year, in St. Paul, Minn., she won the U.S. senior title — an incredible feat for any skater.
In 2010, with the Olympics on the line, Nagasu came through like a star by placing second at the U.S. Championships. She stole the show, lighting up the rink with her energy, poise and infectious smile. She placed a very respectable fourth-place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
In the ensuing years, Nagasu battled injuries and coaching changes, but her passion for skating never wavered. In 2014, she came so close to qualifying for the Olympics a second time. She placed third at the U.S. Championships in 2014 but was left off the Olympic Team in favor of Ashley Wagner. Some skaters might have quit after such a heartbreaking disappointment, but that setback did not deter Nagasu. It only made her stronger.
In January 2018, she was the buzz of the national championships, and she was praised by many for her dedication to the sport and for coming back after the sting of missing the Olympic Team in 2014. She also proved she is still one of the toughest competitors as she won the silver medal. She was so emotional after her free skate that she sobbed in the “Kiss and Cry.” This time, they were tears of joy. She had made it back to the U.S. Olympic Team.
Nagasu graduated Capistrano Connections Academy in 2011. She is enrolled in the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and has been taking business classes. She has three dogs, Lexi, Lincoln and Liberty, and she is an athlete ambassador for the charity Right to Play.
The other competing athletes and their pro partners are:
• Adam Rippon, bronze medalist in men’s figure skating at Pyeongchang, and Jenna Johnson;
• Arike Ogunbowale, a member of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, and Gleb Savchenko;
• Chris Mazdzder, Olympic medalist in men’s single luge, and Witney Carson;
• Jamie Anderson, one of the top female snowboarders in the world, and Artem Chigvintsev;
• Jennie Finch Daigle, softball star, and Keo Motsepe;
• Johnny Damon, Major League Baseball star, and Emma Slater;
• Josh Norman, NFL quarterback, and Sharna Burgess;
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA legend, and Lindsay Arnold;
• Tonya Harding, Olympic figure skater and subject of the movie “I, Tonya,” and Sasha Farber.
The judges are Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. The show is hosted by Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews.
Clips from “Dancing with the Stars” can be seen on YouTube and at www.abc.com.
To get on the wait list for tickets to the show, which is taped at Television City in Hollywood, click here.