ST. PAUL, Minn. Next time, Mirai Nagasu is going to have to remember those glasses.
Nagasu delighted the crowd and herself with a refreshing and entertaining show at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday night. The best part? The 14-year-old had no idea she'd become the second-youngest woman to win the U.S. title until coach Charlene Wong told her.
"I didn't have my glasses on," Nagasu said. "Charlene was like, 'Oh my god.' I was like, 'What?' And she was like, 'You won!' And I was like, 'Whaaat!"'
She clapped her hands to her face and broke into a grin as the crowd laughed.
"I am very excited and speechless for words," she said.
Figure skating has been in the doldrums since Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen decided to try new things, in desperate need of a new star. Well, Nagasu appears to fill that bill. She's a breath of fresh air, both on the ice and off.
"She really is just a regular 14-year-old who has a special gift," Wong said. "I think this is only the beginning of many good things for her."
Nagasu can't go to the world championships in March because she's too young. Skaters now must be 15 by the previous July 1, and she won't even turn 15 until April 16. Rachael Flatt, who finished second, missed the cutoff by three weeks and will have to sit worlds out, too.
Ashley Wagner finished third, and she is eligible for worlds. She and Bebe Liang were selected for the world team along with Kimmie Meissner, whose stunning decline continued with a seventh-place finish.
"I'm not necessarily disappointed about not being able to go to worlds," said Nagasu, who will go to the junior world championships. "I definitely don't think I'm ready for anything that high yet."
Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker got the title, John Baldwin Jr. got the girl.
McLaughlin and Brubaker, last year's junior world champions, served notice they're going to be a threat on the senior stage as well, winning the pairs title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday. Their overall score of 190.74 was more than seven points ahead of Baldwin and Rena Inoue, two-time U.S. champions. Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski, last year's champions, were third.
"I can't believe we're national champions," McLaughlin said, her eyes wide.
Inoue and Baldwin have plenty to celebrate, too. As they took their bows, Baldwin dropped to his knees and asked his longtime girlfriend to marry him. Stunned, she could only stare at him at first.
"I didn't know. He didn't tell me and I don't think he told anybody," Inoue said. "At first I was just so shocked. I didn't know what was going on here."
Said Baldwin, "I told her she's the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, how much respect I have for her and that everything I've accomplished in my career and on the ice is because of her."
As the crowd cheered, Baldwin asked again. With tears rolling down her face, Inoue said yes.
There were no such surprises in ice dance, just more surpassing excellence from Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. The Olympic silver medalists won their record-tying fifth title with a technically ambitious and beautifully executed performance to music by Chopin. They scored 216.07 points, easily beating training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White.