Four years ago, he was on a roof eating In-N-Out Burger with his teammate Mirai Nagasu (who became the first United States woman to land the triple axel at the Olympics), stewing over the fact that he didn't make the USA figure skating team.
After finishing fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Games and getting passed over for Ashley Wagner four years ago for Sochi, the 24-year-old made a long-awaited return to Olympic ice.
"When I nail that jump in the Olympics, I will be ecstatic and then the rest of the program I will just let it happen and let muscle memory take over". She got a standing ovation from the excited crowd - and from her Team USA teammates, with her good friend (and roommate in the Athletes Village; someone give them a reality show ASAP??) Adam Rippon tearing up in the moment.
Team USA amassed a total score of 62, behind the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation team, which won the silver medal with 66 points.
Nagasu began her routine with the US team sitting in third place. Only two other Japanese skaters successfully completed the maneuver in the Games before Nagasu.
Nagasu pumped her firsts before her final score of 137.53 was revealed.
Only two other US female figure skaters have even pulled off a triple axel in competition, period.
"I'm super happy to feel all of my teammates" support", Nagasu told NBC after her skate. "I trained so hard and I know when I get out there I'm going to go for everything, take one element at a time, ' and I was able to do that". "So that is a lot of excitement". Download the Team USA app today. "So this has been a really cool and unforgettable experience". In a sport filled with often-bitter rivals from the same nation, could this me-first competition really generate the unity that fuels traditional teams?
Nagasu finished second in the ladies' portion of the team competition, behind 15-year-old teenager Alina Zagitova.