Ice Network

Nagasu's plight all too familiar to Mitchell

Current SCOB coach was left off 1992 Olympic team in favor of Eldredge
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Mark Mitchell, pictured here with skater Yasmin Siraj, experienced his share of heartbreak when he was passed over to go to the 1992 Olympics. -Lynn Rutherford

If anyone in TD Garden could relate to what Mirai Nagasu might be feeling right now, it's Mark Mitchell.

It is rare in U.S. figure skating for the top finishers at the country's national championships not to be sent to the Olympic Winter Games. But in 1992, Mitchell took the bronze medal at the U.S. championships in Orlando and was not selected for the Olympic ream in Albertville. Instead, Todd Eldredge, who missed the event that year with a back injury, was selected instead.

"I coulda been a contender," Mitchell told reporters at the time.

Mitchell, who has gone on to become a prominent coach at the Skating Club of Boston and had several skaters competing here in Boston, including Ross Miner and Christina Gao, said he definitely was following the drama surrounding the ladies competition.

Gracie Gold won the ladies title late Saturday night; Polina Edmunds was second, followed by Mirai Nagasu in third. Ashley Wagner, meanwhile, was fourth. When U.S. Figure Skating announced its selections for Sochi, Gold, Edmunds and Wagner were named to the U.S. Olympic team. Nagasu was the odd girl out.

"I don't know how any of them slept last night, really," Mitchell said.

As disappointed as he was not to be named an Olympian, Mitchell said he did watch the Olympics on TV. His love of skating kept him around the sport, and he has become one of the elite coaches in the country.

"Life goes on," he said. "It all happens for a reason. And in the end, it's all OK. Sometimes it takes years to understand why things happen, but you can make the best of the situation and move on. It would've great to have happen, I'm sure, but I'm OK."

Mitchell did make a concerted effort, however, to push for clear criteria to determine future Olympic teams. He was an athlete representative on the board of directors and served on the international selection committee, which determines which skaters compete at various events. He was not on the selection committee this time around, however.

"I'm glad I wasn't," he said with a laugh.

Nagasu issues statement

Eight hours after hearing the news that she was not named to the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi, Mirai Nagasu returned to the ice in Boston's TD Garden and performed in the Smucker's Skating Spectacular. She received a standing ovation from the crowd and started crying before the start of her program, which she performed to "On a Golden Pond." Nagasu received a second standing ovation at the end of the routine. 

Nagasu did not speak with reporters after her performance but issued the following statement:

"I'm disappointed in the decision. Though I may not agree with it, I have to respect the decision the federation made. And I'm grateful to everyone who has supported me and look forward to what comes next in my skating career."

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