Rachael Flatt & Mirai Nagasu: High Hopes – and a Nosebleed

02/24/2010 at 09:30 AM EST

Rachael Flatt & Mirai Nagasu: High Hopes – and a Nosebleed
Rachael Flatt (left) and Mirai Nagasu
David J. Phillip/AP; Brian Kersey/UPI/Landov
The American teenage figure-skating tandem of 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.

Flatt, 17, of Colorado Springs, was ecstatic after receiving a score of 64.64 for her program to the music "Sing Sing Sing." "This was better than nationals, even though my score wasn't as good," she says. "It's a new personal best for me internationally. I had the time of my life."

Relishing her Olympic experience, Flatt says, "I'm savoring each moment. You never know if you're going to have an opportunity like this again."

Nagasu, 16, of Arcadia, Calif., says she was bothered by a nosebleed midway through her program. "I've been having nose bleeds here frequently," she said. "I think it is a little bit drier than California, so I've been putting saline nose spray in my nose."



Nagasu skated to "Pirates of the Caribbean" – one of her favorite movies – and finished just behind Flatt with a score of 63.76, She held back on a planned triple Lutz-triple toe and instead did a double toe.

"The landing was a little funky so I think I made the right choice. I'm still in the mix, and I'm happy at my first Olympics I didn't fall yet," she says jokingly.


Heavy Competition

Flatt and Nagasu will be in the final group of skaters thanks to their solid performances but will need some help from the four skaters ahead of them to have a chance at a medal.

Yu-Na Kim of Korea finished first, followed by Japan's Mao Asada – and the two appear virtually untouchable. In third place is Canada's Joannie Rochette, who leads the Americans by more than six points. The six-time Canadian champ competed despite losing her mother, Therese, who died Sunday of a heart attack.

As the crowd crowned her performance with a standing ovation, Rochette broke down in the kiss-&-cry area while waiting for her score of 71.36.


Tears and Cheers for Rochette

"You can't comprehend what she must be going through," says Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie. "I think the crowd helped her and when it was over, she just let it all out."

"Right now I think her mom is jumping up and down in the sky and watching her," said William Thompson, CEO of Skate Canada.

Rochette declined to speak to the media, but Canadian team leader Michael Slipchuk delivered a statement from the skater. "It was hard to be precise," she said. "Ten years from now, I'd like to come back and do this again. It was very nice to have the warm welcome."

And asked to share her feelings, she said in the statement, "words cannot describe."

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