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My Vancouver memory: I have seen the future, and it is Mirai Nagasu

February 28, 2010 | 11:28 am

At the end of every Olympic Games, my editors ask those who have covered the event for our most vivid memory of our experience.

Mine looks forward rather than back. ...

Time-lapse photography of Mirai Nagasu:

In 2007, winning the U.S. junior title, she was a tiny wisp with big potential.

In 2008, winning the senior title at age 14, she was a callow, unrefined skater whose skills deserted her during a growth spurt in 2009. 

And now, the 16-year-old Nagasu, the Olympic debutante from Arcadia who came onto the ice for Saturday’s exhibition as a young woman with confidence and command as glimmering in the spotlight as her turquoise dress.

A bloody nose in the Olympic short program did not unnerve her. 

Being good enough in the short program -- sixth place -- to skate in the final, elite group of the long program did not unnerve her. Twenty minutes after Kim Yuna had clinched the gold, Nagasu closed the evening with a performance so solid, so filled with dazzling spins, she wound up fourth.  

In all her Olympic moments -- gala, short program, long program -- I saw a Nagasu who seemed to have gained four years of maturity in the month since finishing second at the U.S. Championships.  

So much can go wrong in the coming four years, but after two weeks of covering figure skating at the 2010 Winter Games, I will remember most the tantalizing vision of Nagasu as the next Olympic champion.

-- Philip Hersh  in Vancouver, Canada