Olympian Mirai Nagasu the main star for Aspen Skating Club spring show

Mirai Nagasu loves the mountains and snow, although only if she doesn’t have to drive in it. Good thing she has close friend Alex Johnson to help with that.

“Thankfully Alex grew up in Minnesota, so he knows how to do that,” Nagasu joked. “Right now I’m in Southern California, so to be able to come to a winter wonderland has been really refreshing.”

Nagasu and Johnson, both accomplished figure skaters, were the star guests Saturday when the Aspen Skating Club held its annual spring show at Lewis Ice Arena in Aspen. Called “Jungle Safari on Ice,” the show featured approximately 60 local skaters dancing to songs from movies such as The Lion King, Tarzan and The Jungle Book, not to mention performances by Nagasu and Johnson, who is an international medalist.

Paul Wylie, who won Olympic silver in 1992, returned to emcee the show, directed by Teri Hooper.

Nagasu, 25, was certainly the featured act. The former U.S. national champion won a bronze medal in the team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea. While there, she landed the rare triple axel, becoming the first American woman to do so at the Olympics. She also competed in the 2010 Olympics.

Nagasu was on season 26 of “Dancing with the Stars” and is currently part of the “Stars on Ice” lineup, which includes Aspen Olympian Jeremy Abbott.

“There is something really special about coming to club shows because we get to skate with the younger generation to see how much they love skating for the pure joy of it,” Nagasu said of getting to perform in Aspen. “To see their passion, that inspires me as well, because as you get to our level it gets harder and harder and we do worry and stress out about things like competition. So to be able to see the smiles on their faces is I think why we come back.”

Both Nagasu and Johnson have a lot going on outside of skating these days. Johnson, 28, recently graduated from college and is set to begin a full-time job back in Minnesota as an investment banking analyst. Nagasu has returned to college full-time where she is working toward a career in journalism.

Still, they will forever be skaters at heart. The professionals spent time with the young Aspen skaters earlier on Saturday, hoping to impart a little bit of knowledge or provide some sort of inspiration while here.

“When they get to work with guest coaches, they always try a little bit harder,” Nagasu said of the kids. “Today I worked on a lot of axels. It wasn’t the same triple axel, but to work on their basics is really important because that’s where it all begins. Who knows? Maybe some of them will be trying triples in a few years.”

During intermission of the early show on Saturday, the Aspen Skating Club recognized its four high school skaters in Klara Belle Kowar, Sophia Mandt, Xavier Stapleton and the lone senior, Mary Tarver Reid.