— The Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A bloody nose that began halfway through her short program bothered American Mirai Nagasu enough that she fears she has no chance for a medal.

Nagasu felt her nose start bleeding in the middle of her routine Tuesday night. But she completed her program and received 63.76 points, a personal best that put her in first place midway through the short program.

”You have to deal with what you’ve got,” the 16-year-old skater from Los Angeles said. ”Halfway through the program, I felt it running down my nose and just said, ‘Don’t stop, keep going.’

”I skated the best I can.”

And it was pretty good, even if she believes it won’t put her in medal contention.

”From today’s performance, I don’t think I can reach the podium,” Nagasu said. ”I’m a little disappointed.”

Skating to ”Pirates of the Caribbean”, Nagasu took off as if she’d been shot from a cannon and never backed off, even with the blood on her nose. While other skaters slow down before their jumps, she attacked at full speed, landing with the lightness of a bird.

It’s Nagasu’s flexibility and grace that really stand out, though. Her spirals were exquisite, done in the full splits and lasting for what seemed like half the rink. She flowed from one position to the other in her layback, showing none of the herky-jerky shifts other skaters make.

The crowd loved it, too, letting out a huge ovation when the marks were posted.

But Nagasu wasn’t nearly as impressed.

”It wasn’t quite right,” she said, blaming the air in Vancouver for her bloody nose. ”I wasn’t feeling quite right. I thought I could have skated better.”

The 2008 U.S. champion has come back with a vengeance from a right ankle injury and a growth spurt that ruined the following season. She nearly won a second national championship last month, finishing behind Rachael Flatt mainly because of under-rotating three jumps.

She has looked strong and skated cleanly through this week’s practices, and didn’t miss any elements Tuesday night.

”I’m happy in my first Olympics that I didn’t fall yet,” she said, drawing laughter. ”I felt all the support and hope I can do better in the long program.”

 

IN 2002, Canada had the Lucky Loonie, a $1 coin secretly buried under the ice at the Salt Lake City Olympics before Canada won gold medals in men’s and women’s hockey.

Meet this year’s good luck charm: Scott Moir, half of Canada’s gold medal-winning ice dancing pair.

Moir sat beside Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau to watch the women’s moguls competition, and the next night Bilodeau won gold in the men’s. Moir worked out with Maelle Ricker, and the next day she took the women’s snowboardcross.

He said he was hanging out with speedskater Christine Nesbitt the afternoon before she captured gold in the 1,000 meters. Then Moir and partner Tessa Virtue won the ice dance Monday night.

”And then Jon Montgomery went out and won, and I’ve never met him in my life,” Moir joked Tuesday. ”He ruined my streak.”

Montgomery won gold in the men’s skeleton race. Canada has six gold medals.

 

ON THE SIDELINES: Johnny Weir knows one thing he won’t be doing in the future: coaching.

Weir, the American who finished sixth in the men’s event last week, was back at Pacific Coliseum on Tuesday to cheer on training mate Ksenia Makarova of Russia. Weir, who got a rinkside pass from the Russian federation, stood in the runway, nervously shifting from one foot to another and clapping enthusiastically as the 17-year-old Makarova landed each of her tricks.

”It’s harder watching than competing. I was so nervous,” Weir said. ”We train together, she’s like my sister. I’m so proud of what she was able to do here.”

Makarova said Weir’s presence gave her a boost of confidence. Asked if he has a future in coaching, Weir quickly shot the idea down.

”It’s too hard for me,” he said. ”My blood pressure will go way up.”