Mirai Nagasu is good at surprises. She won the U.S. junior ladies title in 2007 by upsetting heavy favorite Caroline Zhang and then pulled off an even bigger upset by winning the U.S. senior title in 2008. This week, Mirai, 15, makes her senior international debut at Skate America in Everett, Wash. Coach Charlene Wong said she's anticipating a good debut but said to keep in mind, "This is the learning year." Choreographer Lori Nichol created two mature programs. Mirai, 15, performed her new short program, a medley of music from Charlie Chaplin films, and her new free skate, set to "Caprice Fantastique," "Fairy Tale and Devil's Beauties" and "Orpheus in the Underworld," before monitors last month, receiving positive feedback. Training was curtailed a bit this summer due to a right ankle injury, but Mirai used the time to improve her composition and style. "She doesn't look like a girl that's a good skater. She looks like a young woman who belongs there," Wong said. "In Mirai's long program, she takes you through a variety of emotions." Before heading north, Mirai took a few minutes to talk skating, competition, high school and Project Runway.
ICE: How are you feeling heading into Skate America?
MIRAI: Of course, I'm a little bit nervous, but other than that, I'm really excited. I have expectations of myself, but I don't have really demanding expectations. I just want to have fun and take the experience I can get from Skate America. I want to enjoy it as much as possible. ICE: These new programs are different than anything you have ever skated before. In the short program, you're playing a character, Charlie Chaplin. Had you ever seen any Charlie Chaplin movies?
MIRAI: I have now. When I was in Canada, Lori had me watch all these movies. They're really funny, and I really enjoyed watching them. I went home and bought some, and I watch them a lot because I really like them. So they're always in my life now. He's really expressive. It's a good learning experience watching his movies.