Mirai Nagasu Says Tonya Harding Didn't Know Who She Was When They Met on DWTS
"She didn't know who I was," Mirai Nagasu admitted
Earlier this month, Dancing with the Stars: Athletes announced its cast for the four-week cycle of the ABC reality dance competition, which includes both Nagasu and Harding, who was banned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association more than two decades ago.
According to Nagasu, 25, who landed the rare and incredibly difficult triple axel jump at the Olympics in February — becoming the first U.S. female figure skater to land the jump during an Olympic competition — Harding was unaware of who she was when they met on DWTS.
“What did she say when you met her?” Kit Hoover asked Nagasu on Thursday’s Access.
“She didn’t know who I was,” Nagasu admitted with a smile. “But I know who she is.”
“Clearly she didn’t watch the Olympics,” joked Nagasu’s pro dancing partner, Alan Bersten.
Though Nagasu said she didn’t reveal to Harding, 47, that she nailed the triple axel at the Winter Olympics, she did tell her, “Oh girl, I’m your kindred spirit and I also love axels” and confirmed that Harding has “still got” her own axel.
Only two other U.S. female figure skaters have pulled off a triple axel in competition: First was Harding, during the national championship in 1991, followed by Kimmie Meissner in 2005. Of those, only Harding had also done a triple axel in international competition. Then Nagasu joined her in 2017 at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic.
WATCH: Mirai Nagasu Jokingly Offers to ‘Put on a Blonde Wig’ and Do a Triple Axel for I, Tonya Sequel
Nagasu admitted that training has not been easy since joining the series, which will premiere April 30.
“I think it’s our job to make it look easy as it is in figure skating,” said Nagasu, whose first dance on the show will be a salsa number. “But really, we’re putting in hours of work. So, I’m keeping my Olympic body because I’m being coached by this one,” she said, referencing Bersten.
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Also competing on DWTS: Athletes is Adam Rippon, the first openly gay U.S. Olympian, who won a bronze medal during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
“If the opportunity came up, I would love to do it,” the 28-year-old told PEOPLE Now of joining DWTS in March, adding that he thought it “would be fun.”
Season 26 of Dancing with the Stars premieres April 30 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.