Sure, they're both overachievers, but one downs M&Ms for luck, and the other has a sushi roll named for her

By Lorenzo Benet
February 24, 2010 03:55 PM
David J. Phillip/AP; Brian Kersey/UPI/Landov

Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu remain in the medal hunt after finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in Tuesday’s ladies’ short program at the Vancouver Olympics, but here are 10 things you likely don’t know the American teenage figure-skating tandem.

1. Think the free-skater Rachael Flatt, 17, has delicate footwork on the ice? Well, her coach Tom Zakrajsek says she’s a demon when it comes to playing the Dance Dance Revolution video game. “She is really good at it,” he says.

2. Before competing, she makes a habit of eating a couple of M&Ms that match the colors of her dress.

3. The daughter of Jim, a chemical engineer, and Jody, a retired biotech scientist, Flatt’s academic load includes four Advanced Placement classes at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs. “My parents joke that I learned to walk when I was 10 months old, and I walked only for a week and then ran everywhere else – that’s how I do stuff,” she says. “I run everywhere.”

4. She keeps her eye on the road. “With her schedule, you’d think she be a fast driver, but she’s very careful driver, drives the speed limit, always uses her blinker,” says Coach Zakrajsek.

5. Don’t take her on in Where’s Waldo: For good luck, her dressmaker always puts a renegade bead in her dress, which Rachael diligently hunts down. “She always finds it,” says Zakrajsek.
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6. About to vie in the ladies’ long program Thursday, Mirai Nagasu, 16, grew up in the back of her family’s sushi restaurant in Arcadia, Calif., doing her homework and sleeping on a cot. “I’m an only child and both my parents worked so I spent a lot of time there,” she says. Now when she’s home, she has a pet Chihuahua with a fierce bark keep her company.

7. She started skating at age 5 when a rainy day forced her parents to take her skating instead of golfing. She still putts to relieve stress. “I play golf to give myself an excuse to hit something and it’s a place to channel my energy,” she says. “Hearing the chink of the ball is satisfying.”

8. If not blades on ice, then kitchen blades. “If I wasn’t skating I want to be a food person sampling dishes – which is what I do with my family’s restaurant. Or I will do something in design and art.”

9. The restaurant has a sushi roll named after her, the Mirai Olympic Roll, which “basically has the whole ocean it,” Nagasu explains.
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10. Her mother, Ikuko, who is in Vancouver, is recovering from thyroid cancer, and Nagasu would like nothing better than to win a medal for her, “as a token of my appreciation,” she told USA Today. She wrote about her mom on Facebook, describing her as a woman who “works overtime, clocking in at the restaurant and chauffeuring me to practice and events.”

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