Some articles have been referring to Mirai Nagasu's "rebellious" streak. Take Phil Hersh's in the Tribune, for example. Here are some excerpts:
"It was a little due to careless training and helped me realize I'm not as young as I was," she said. "Being young, I could just hop onto the ice and start jumping. This year, I realized I need to warm up."
Other effects of being older?
"It was a lot easier last year being 14 with no thoughts. I was always energetic. I was on fire 24/7. Now I'm growing older and adolescence has hit me."
Nagasu said she is fighting a rebellious streak that has her thinking, "I don't want to do homework and I don't want to get up at 5 a.m. [to train]." Wong thinks it is simply an adolescent phase, magnified by Nagasu's skating stature.
"It's not a negative situation but it's not the best-case scenario coming into nationals," Wong said.
Nagasu's take contains wisdom beyond her years.
"Regardless of my rebellious side, I know I have to be strict with myself to get past it," she said. "It's like getting over a mountain: climbing up is difficult but climbing down is full of excitement, and the prospect of what is beyond that mountain makes me want to go farther. My adolescence is just a challenge I need to get past."
Um...who talks like this? I mean, it's almost too cute to take. I never referred to my adolescence as "my adolescence." I always worry about "rebellious" skaters (Nicole Bobek, anyone?). Thousands of teenagers wake up at 5 am to do homework but don't get to figure skate and travel, but then they also don't have the obvious pressures of Nagasu. I'm just hoping "rebellious" isn't code for her heart not really being in it, which is what appears to be underneath all the explanations and her coach's comments. Not a good place for her head to be a year before the Olympics. Although, she's so young that if it doesn't work out next year, she can still realistically look to 2014 (if that's what she wants). And perhaps by then the rebellion will be over!
I can't tell which articles I am more skeptical of; ones where the journalist is being manipulated to hype he skater and make the skater look better than they are (like all those "brave new Kimmie Meissner" articles before the season started that appeared to be some sort of message to the judges) or ones like this where the journalist is being manipulated to lower expectations, so the skater looks much better in the end (I mean, really, it sounds like Nagasu is reading from a script. I have heard her do interviews and she's very intelligent, but I wouldn't have expected this sort of talk). I am guessing the fact that I am a reporter and I deal with PR people all the time has made me more cynical.