In this year’s 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land the triple axel during an Olympic competition, just the third woman ever to do so.
There have only been eight women to complete the triple axel in an international competition since Midori Ito of Japan became the first in 1988. This jump is surprisingly rare and exceedingly difficult. It was one of the reasons Team USA claimed the bronze medal in Monday’s team figure skating event. But what makes the triple axel such a big deal?