By Des Bieler
Mirai Nagasu's performance Monday during the Olympics had many viewers exclaiming, "Wow, I can't believe she hit a triple axel!" The American figure skater also had some wondering, "Wait, is that a giant 'USA' tattoo on her inner thigh?"
Eventually, the mystery was solved: Nagasu was using some Team USA-branded kinesiology tape under her tights. KT Tape, the company that manufactures a product popular with many athletes, sprung into social-media action to let inquiring minds know the story.
It's been a big start to the year for KT Tape, which also received plenty of publicity after millions watched Tom Brady use the product on his injured throwing hand during January's AFC championship game. Athletes across a variety of sports have used the tape and products like it, including beach volleyball competitors at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, if only to gain a psychological edge.
Meanwhile, some Winter Olympic athletes are spreading the tape across their faces, all the better to shield themselves from the frigid temperatures in Pyeongchang. "The issue is serious in the Alpine skiing," Lubomir Soucek, who works with Slovakia's Olympic team, told the New York Times recently. "You have to protect your face not to have frozen skin."
Nagasu didn't have weather as an issue Monday, and she didn't have any trouble with her unprecedented leap, either. The 24-year-old California native became the first American woman to hit a triple axel in the Olympics, and the rest of her 4 1/2- minute program was good enough to earn her a score of 137.53 in the team competition, over seven points higher than anything she posted during the skating season leading into the Games.
Other current and former Olympic skaters were suitably impressed with Nagasu's feat.
The only other women to have landed a triple axel at the Olympics were Japan's Midori Ito and Mao Asada. The only other American woman to complete the jump in an international competition was Tonya Harding, at the 1991 world championships.