Wagner makes US figure skating team despite falls

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 12, 2014 at 11:18 pm •  Published: January 12, 2014
Advertisement
;

BOSTON (AP) — The names on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team were still supposed to be a secret, so Ashley Wagner slipped under the stands to cry.

Hours after a performance she described as a "tearful little wimp out on the ice," the two-time national champion was picked to go to the Sochi Games.

She finished a distant fourth at the U.S. Championships on Saturday night, and only three American women make the Olympics. But this event isn't the only criteria U.S. Figure Skating takes into account.

"If you look at Ashley Wagner's record and performance, she's got the top credentials of any of our female athletes," said the organization's president, Patricia St. Peter.

And so the third-place finisher, Mirai Nagasu, was passed over Sunday. Fifteen-year-old Polina Edmunds, who was second, was selected even though she has never competed in an international senior event.

Nagasu has some pretty impressive credentials herself — she was fourth at the 2010 Games as a 16-year-old. But U.S. Figure Skating's selection guidelines consider only the past year, and Nagasu had mostly struggled until a resurgent performance at nationals.

Silent all day, Nagasu appeared as scheduled for her performance in the Sunday night exhibition that always follows major events. Her eyes welled up as she took her spot on the ice, and the crowd rose to its feet as she choked back the sobs.

After her program, she wiped away more tears as she skated off to another standing ovation.

Nagasu declined to speak to reporters afterward but later released a statement.

"I'm disappointed in the decision. Though I may not agree with it, I have to respect the decision the federation made," she said.

U.S. Figure Skating does take into account the technical difficulty of skaters' programs, and that might have been what clinched the preternaturally poised Edmunds' spot on the team.

"Even though it is my senior debut, I think I am senior-level, so it doesn't really matter if it's a debut or not," she said.

The one no-brainer was Gracie Gold, who won her first U.S. title Saturday in a runaway.

Wagner finished fifth at the world championships and won the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final, the next most important events in the selection criteria after this year's nationals.

"I'm happy that my federation was able to see beyond one bad skate," she said through tears once the announcement became official.

But, oh, was it a bad one. Wagner fell twice and failed to cleanly land two other triple jumps in Saturday's long program. Afterward, she mouthed, "I'm sorry" to her mother.

Continue reading this story on the...