The U.S. Olympic Figure Skating team selection process had some controversy this year for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, as Ashley Wagner was selected to the team despite finishing fourth in the U.S. Championships on Saturday night and that has put a spotlight on how the athletes are chosen and what happens when heralded stars fail to perform well.
Wagner got selected to the team based on her past performance and she bumped the third-place finisher, Mirai Nagasu, from the games after getting picked and Polina Edmunds was also taken despite not ever performing in an international event. Wagner comes in after having performed well in her career and Nagasu was passed over despite the fact that she finished fourth in the last winter games and she previously has won tournaments before, but now she will be out and it will be Wagner in the spotlight even more after the way she was selected to the team this year.
Wagner fell twice over the weekend and finished fifth at the world championships and she also previously won the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final and now she will be in through to the Olympics despite missing on two triple jumps in her long format on Saturday. The 22-year-old now will be on the team and she will have plenty of attention going forward.
Wagner was gifted a spot on the U.S. Olympic figure skating squad for the Sochi Winter Games on Sunday after finishing fourth at the national championships. Wagner, a two-time national champion, bungled her free skate at the U.S. championships on Saturday, dropping into fourth with only three Olympic berths on offer.
But a nine-member panel still selected her for Sochi, based on past performances. Gracie Gold earned her Olympic ticket after capturing her first national title while 15-year-old sensation Polina Edmunds took second, locking up two of the three spots. Mirai Nagasu, who was fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, placed third and had looked set to grab the final position only to see it awarded to Wagner.
The pairs competition will be represented by two-time reigning U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, and Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.
With defending Olympic champion Evan Lysacek unable to defend his men's title, American gold medal hopes will rest with Jeremy Abbott, who won his fourth U.S. title on Sunday, and runner-up Jason Brown. (Reuters)