“I saved the team event, with Adam [Rippon] and the Shibutanis,” she said. “We were about to lose our medals. So today I put my [bronze] medal in my pocket. Here she is! And I said, ‘Mirai, you’ve done your job already. This is all just icing.’”
There is a lot to unpack there, starting with referring to the medal as “she.” Why not name it? I’d go with Bobbie Mae, as a nod to Bronze Medal. But let’s focus on what she said about the team event.
Nagasu won her bronze with seven other skaters: Rippon, Alexa and Maia Shibutani, Bradie Tennell, Nathan Chen, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim. By saying she “saved” the event with Rippon and the Shibutanis— because they were about to “lose our medals” —Nagasu took credit while implicitly criticizing her teammates. If an athlete in any other sport did that, we’d go nuts. Tom Brady played one of the great games of his life in last month’s Super Bowl, but his Patriots lost because the defense got shredded by a backup quarterback. I never heard Brady blame the defense.
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And by the way: What Nagasu said about the team event is not even really true. When she did her free skate, the U.S. was in third place, two points ahead of Italy. That does not fit any definition of “about to lose our medals.” Nagasu nailed her free skate, finishing second and pushing the U.S. to a four-point lead. But even if she had finished dead last, the U.S. would have ended up beating the Italians for the bronze.
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She wasn’t done. Somebody (not me, just so we are clear) asked her why the U.S. skaters seemed to struggle with the pressure here. Nagasu responded, “That’s a very aggressive question. I’d like to point out that Gabrielle Daleman, who is an Olympic gold medalist, didn’t have a strong outing here in the individual.”
I’m sure Daleman will enjoy reading that, once she is finished crying and blaming herself for letting down her family. Anybody with a soul had to feel for Daleman, and for Chen, and for all the skaters who worked for years to get here, only to skate less than their best. As Daleman said, “Crap happens.” It sucks for all of them, including Nagasu. It’s sad that Nagasu is the only one who couldn’t see that.