But that triple axel propelled Nagasu to a clean program and an exhilarating performance at just the right time. She received a score of 73.38.
What's a triple axel?
The 24-year-old Nagasu wasn't just the first American to land a triple axel at the Olympics, she was also only the second American woman to land the jump in an worldwide competition. Tonya Harding landed the jump in 1991, as did Kimmie Meissner in 2005.
Russian Alina Zagitova won the women's free skate, topping even her performance in taking the European title last month with a season-best 158.08 points - more than 20 ahead of American Mirai Nagasu.
Winter Olympics ice skater suffers wardrobe malfunction as costume almost SLIPS OFF
However, Min handled it with grace, knowing stopping to fix it would only cost her and her partner, Alexander Gamelin . She and Gamelin received 51.97 points for the performance and finished ninth out of the 10 competing teams.
The 24-year-old veteran is on something of a redemption tour at these Games after being controversially left off the 2014 Sochi team - despite finishing just off the podium in Vancouver in 2010.
Nagasu, 24, was competing in the women's free skate in the team event on Monday when she landed the hard jump. Fellow US figure skater Adam Rippon recalled the disappointment that year, in an interview with NBC.
But both figure skaters were very determined.
Rippon, 28, who has found himself in the glare of the spotlight since mid-January when Vice President Pence took surprising exception to Rippon's critical comments in a Jan. 17 USA TODAY story, turned in an Olympic debut that he'll remember for a lifetime. The skate was part of the figure skating team event.