Vail Skating Festival bringing Olympic medalist, ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant to Dobson Ice Arena

Mirai Nagasu to perform throughout the festival Dec. 20-22

Figure skater Mirai Nagasu is an Olympic medalist. She will perform in Vail as part of the Vail Skating Festival, returning Dec. 20-22.
Special to the Daily
Vail Skating Festival    Free outdoor shows
  • When: Friday, Dec. 20
  • Where: Solaris ice rink, Vail (5 p.m.); Arrabelle ice rink, Lionshead (6:30 p.m.)
Ice Spectacular
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 21, 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Dobson Ice Arena, Vail
  • Cost: $20/$40
Half-day clinics
  • When: Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21-22

In 2018, figure skater Mirai Nagasu became the first American female to land a triple axel at the Olympics — and the third woman from any country to do so. Then she stole America’s heart again on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Nagasu, 26, will be a featured skater at the Vail Skating Festival when it returns Dec. 20-22 with free outdoor shows, an Ice Spectacular at Dobson Ice Arena as well as clinics and seminars.

“It will be fun to skate for the audience instead of for the judges, so I won’t have to worry about how many points I’m scoring,” she said on a trip to Vail in October. “Coming to Vail and getting to ski here and also skate is really important to me. To see such a tight-knit community that supports winter sports is really rare, so I love coming to visit Vail.”

Mirai Nagasu on “Dancing with the Stars.”

A life on ice

Nagasu grew up enjoying the sun in California.

“One day it rained, so my mom took me to the rink,” she said. “Then instead of going to golf every day, I asked to start going to the rink every day.”

Support Local Journalism

She would skate in the early hours before school and has been representing the Pasadena Figure Skating Club her entire career.

“It started off in a convention center, so I used to skate with chandeliers — they were rusty, but it was beautiful,” she said.”

Last year, Nagasu received surgery from Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail and is excited to be back, skating better than ever.

“I’m looking forward to skating pain-free,” she said. “Coming back to Vail where the surgery started will be like a full circle.”

Mirai Nagasu, 26, is the first U.S. woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics. (Photo Special to the Daily)

Nagasu will perform during the Ice Spectacular at Dobson Ice Arena on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 6:30 p.m. Chris and Alexa Knieram will also perform. Tickets are $40 for on-ice and $20 for bleachers.

The Vail Skating Festival also includes two free 15-minute outdoor exhibitions on Friday, Dec. 20, at the Solaris ice rink in Vail (5 p.m.) and Arrabelle ice rink in Lionshead (6:30 p.m.) — featuring international competitors as well as a performance by Nagasu.

Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21-22, the Vail Skating Festival offers two half-day clinics for competitive skaters featuring Olympic coach Christy Krall.

The Vail Skating Festival Ice Spectacular is Saturday, Dec. 21, at Dobson Ice Arena. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Eddie Shipstad

While Nagasu continues to skate, she’s also an international business student — with over 193,000 Instagram followers.

“I sleep with it every night,” she jokingly said of her Olympic medal. “More than the medal it was the training and the people who supported me and the team that got me to the moment. That’s more important than the actual medal.”

Now, she’s enjoying her time on ice, spreading her passion for the sport.

“To be able to skate in front of a crowd is always exciting,” she said. “I’m also really looking forward to the skiing because it’s one of the best in the country.”

For more information about the Vail Skating Festival, visit

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Support Local Journalism