Sunday, February 14, 2010

Exuberant Nagasu continues to charm media

It might be taking things too far to call Mirai Nagasu's upbringing hardscrabble, but the teen's self-proclaimed fascination with "free stuff" is understandable.

Back home in Arcadia, Calif., an eastern suburb of Los Angeles where her parents Ikuko and Kiyoto operate a small sushi restaurant, new clothes don't always come her way. With every spare dime going toward her training, she often settles for hand-me-down duds.

Unfortunately, some of the swag she's snagged here in Vancouver has turned out to be a little disappointing

"I'm coming a little bit late, so a lot of my sizes were gone," the 16-year-old said. "I have a lot of big sizes and I'm not sure I want to give them up, but I'm sure I'll have to give some of it way."

At her first press conference here in Vancouver, Nagasu took up where she left off at the U.S. Championships in Spokane last month: charming the media. But first, she admitted the reaction to her remarks in Spokane wasn't all positive.

"My neighbor, who is my closest friend and best friend, and her family [are] very Americanized, so I got a scolding from them," a sheepish Nagasu said. "They told me I shouldn't have said that [about the gifts], but what was said, was said."

Nagasu's dad, Ikuko, wasn't sure he could afford to shut the restaurant down for a few days and travel to Vancouver to watch his daughter compete. Then the skater, who is repped by IMG, signed a sponsorship deal with Panasonic to work on a range of projects, including a skating video, shot in full HD 3D for viewing on 3D TV.

"They've been great, giving video cameras, and I'm sure I'll be able to figure out how to edit videos," she said. "It will just be a lot of fun for me; I've always wanted to learn how to do everything technological. It's an honor to be representing them, because they're the future of technology, and I'm also the future.

"They're helping me out so much, helping my parents come up here. I really appreciate that. . . My parents have to work at the restaurant, so they're only closing for a couple of days when I compete, but it will be great to have them here."

So far the highlight of the Games hasn't been the freebies; it's been walking beside her coach, Frank Carroll, in the opening ceremonies.

"He's been at ten Olympics, and to be the athlete walking beside him, what an honor," she said.

Then, it was back to fun and games with the press.

"I think the biggest change in programs is I'm going to attempt the quad," Nagasu said. "I had a strong performance at nationals, and I want to do better, but in order to do so, I don't think risking a quad is worth it."

When the laughter subsided, she quickly added, "I certainly wish I could do a quad, but I can't. I'd like to make a strong showing here with what I have."

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