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By Liz Alper
Photos via Zimbio
February 11, 2018 (Gangneung, South Korea) - Most overachievers call bronze a failure, but Team USA figure skating calls it a success, especially after the afternoon Mirai Nagasu had.
“This is definitely history, or herstory, whatever way you want to put it,” Nagasu said.
The 24-year-old from Montebello became the first American woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition on Monday, and only the third athlete in Olympic history to do so.
Team USA figure skating, which includes former Ramona resident Chris Knierim and his wife/pair skating partner Alexa Scimeca-Knierim, finished third in the figure skating team event with 62 points, behind the Olympic athletes from Russia with 66. Canada took the gold with 73 points.
As for 28-year-old Pennsylvanian Adam Rippon, the first openly gay American athlete to qualify for a Winter Olympics, bronze is more than just a color as well.
"My mom always told me to stand up for what I believe in," he told NBC's Mike Tirico. "This is a moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life. Now I’m actually an Olympian. They have footage. They can pull it up. So let the record show, Adam Rippon is an Olympian.”
The Knierims took fourth place in both their short and long programs. The pair skated a nearly flawless short program including a quadruple twist and despite bobbles in the long program, performed strong enough to help the U.S. win the third place bronze.
In the women’s short program, Bradie Tennell represented the U.S. and skated a clean and elegant program incuding a triple lutz-triple toe combination, but placed fifth among an exceptionally strong field of women competitors
Maia and Alex Shibutini, a brother-sister ice dancing team representing the U.S., gave an exuberant performance to place second in the long program, helping propel the U.S. to bronze.
On the slopes, Jamie Anderson claimed her second consecutive gold medal in the women's snowboarding slopestyle. The 27-year-old from South Lake Tahoe defends her crown after being awarded the gold in Sochi in 2014. She had good company; the field was dominated by her American teammates Jessika Jenson (fifth), 17-year-old Hailey Langland (seventh) and Julia Marino (11th). This was Langland and Marino's Olympic debut.
Anderson had a smooth second run despite high winds in the mountains of PyeonChang, finishing with an even 83 points. Canada's Laurie Blouin takes home the silver with 76.33 and Finland's Enni Rukajarvi takes home bronze with a 75.38.
Anderson is back in action on February 23 when she competes in big air, making its Winter Olympics debut.
In snowboarding halfpipe, Americans Chloe Kim (just 17 years old), Kelly Clark (in her fifth Olympics), Arielle Gold and Maddie Mastro (also 17) have qualified to move on to the women's final.