Daily Mail Reporter
Each year at the national figure skating championships, the top three finishers are named as the US Olympic team.
But a controversial decision by the U.S. Figure Skating Association on Sunday has seen Ashley Wagner – a major marketing element of the Olympics plan who crashed out of the finals after taking two tumbles during her routine – chosen over Mirai Nagasu, who finished ahead of Wagner in the competition and was the only skater not to fall or make a major error.
The move marks the first time the federation has ever bumped a skater from the team who met all the credentials and placed high enough at nationals was passed over for the Olympics, with Nagasu named as an alternate.
Nagasu placed third to Wagner’s fourth place at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Saturday, but Wagner was still chosen.
However the USFSA defended the decision by saying that it made an ‘objective analysis’ of the skaters, with Wagner ranked No. 2 in the world by Icenetwork.com before her meltdown.
‘Im tough as nails’: The US Figure Staking Association bumped Mirai Nagasu – who placed high enough at the nationals to earn a spot in the Olympics – for Ashely Wagner, who took a nasty tumble in the finals
Ashley Wagner falls as she competes during the women’s free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Saturday January 11, 2014. The fall did not affect her chances to make the Olympic team
Graceful: Ashley Wagner remains her composure as falls in the women’s free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
Ashley Wagner struggles to get back on her skates as she competes during the women’s free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Saturday January 11, 2014
The end: A disappointed Ashley Wagner finishes her routine, in which she fell twice, at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston
‘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.
Fifteen-year-old Polina Edmunds, who placed second at finals, was also selected, even though she has never competed in an international senior event.
Nagasu has impressive credentials under her belt, coming in at fourth place 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.
Wagner – who slipped under the stands to cry after her performance, fearing the worst – said she was shocked at the decision.
But she thanked the USFSA for making the right decision.
Mirai Nagasu cries during U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday, January 12, 2014 in Boston. Nagasu, the third-place finisher in the championships but was controversially passed over for the Olympics
Mirai Nagasu, a 20-year-old skater who finished fourth at the Vancouver Olympics, took third place at the nationals competition this weekend. She was also the only figure skater not to fall or make a major error. But when the American women’s team was announced on Sunday, Ashley Wagner, who placed fourth, took the third Olympic spot and Nagasu was named as an alternate
Ashley Wagner (center) reacts after competing in the women’s free skate as her coaches Rafael Arutunian (left) and Nadia Kanaeva (right) look on at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday in Boston.
Ashley Wagner realizes she has finished last at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday Janurary 11, 2014 in Boston
Hopes dashed: Ashley Wagner (middle) reacts after competing in the women’s free skate as her coach Rafael Arutunian looks on
‘I’m happy that my federation was able to see beyond one bad skate,’ she said through tears once the announcement became official.
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.
‘I was overwhelmed from the big lights and the big show,’ she said.
Wagner insists that won’t happen again in Sochi, with the pressure off by making the Olympic team.
‘I’m not that skater that everyone saw last night,’ Wagner said.
‘I’m a fierce competitor. I’m tough as nails.’
(From left) Polina Edmunds, Gracie Gold, Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner pose with their medals after finishing as the top four women at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston
There was no way she was going to sleep Saturday night.
The 22-year-old Wagner video-chatted with some old friends, had a big glass of wine with her mother and brother and watched the movie The Seven Year Itch.
And she accepted that she might narrowly miss making the Olympic team for the second straight games, prepared to train through 2018.
‘I danced with danger last night,’ she said.
‘I never want to feel that uncomfortable again.’
Wagner was watching a friend practice Sunday morning when she got the text message that she was on the team.
‘It’s been a really long four years,’ she said later, her voice cracking.
Ashley Wagner is overcome facing reporters at a news conference at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014 in Boston. The two-time U.S. champion made the Olympic team Sunday despite finishing a distant fourth at the national championships
Ashley Wagner speaks of her gratitude at making the U.S. Olympic team
Figure skaters Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner (right) talk to reporters after being introduced as part of the United States’ women’s figure skating team for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics
Edmunds knew she’d have more Olympic opportunities in her future, but Sochi was special.
Her mother, who helps coach her, is from Russia.
Edmunds hasn’t been there since she was 2, but she often says hi over Skype to all her relatives in the city of Tver, and when she competed at the Junior Grand Prix in Belarus, her uncle took an 18-hour train trip to see her perform.
The Olympics will also be a homecoming for U.S. pairs champion Simon Shnapir, who was born in Russia.
He gleefully said ‘We’re going to Sochi’ in Russian when it was announced that he and partner Marissa Castelli were on the team.
They will be joined by runners-up Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.
Bumped: Mirai Nagasu – who placed high enough at the nationals to earn a spot in the Olympics – was passed over for the team for Ashley Wagner
Mirai Nagasu competes during the women’s free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Saturday January 11, 2014
Mirai Nagasu pulls of an impressive jump at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
The U.S. has three spots in ice dancing, and top-three finishers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were picked.
The top-two men’s finishers were also selected for the Americans’ spots: Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.
Davis and White, the reigning world champs, are the Americans’ best – and perhaps only – hope for a figure skating gold medal.
They won silver in Vancouver, and after four years spent establishing themselves as tops in the world, their chance to move up one step on the podium is finally here.
‘Obviously we’re going into these games with very high expectations,’ White said.
‘We’ve had a lot of great momentum over the last four years since the 2010 Games. We feel like we’ve put ourselves in a really great position to come home with a gold medal.’
Share what you think
The comments below have not been moderated.
Manchester, United Kingdom,
I can only think of one reason: Race. Clearly Nagasu was the better skater on the day, but she misses out for a girl who fell twice.
Rotterdam Netherlands, Netherlands,
8 minutes ago
Simple the girl is not blonde and white.
18 minutes ago
Ice Skating is more of a beauty pageant than a sport.
21 minutes ago
Travesty. Why bother with this competition if the selectors ignore the results?
heard it said…,
key west, United States,
34 minutes ago
Who cares what her future “potential” is. She dropped the ball.. Did’nt make the score. Nagasu did Nagasu deserves her 15 minutes at the Olympics! Recall that decision!
munchkin land, United States,
44 minutes ago
Okay in all honesty. She is the reason the usa have 3 skaters going to the olympics! One competition isnt enough, Mirai Nagasu has not been steady all year.
50 minutes ago
It’s all going to come down to who has the best Zamboini.
59 minutes ago
The point of competing in qualifiers is to discover who is better on the day. This decision has rendered the system of qualifying on merit completely pointless. I feel very sorry for the young lady who did everything right and got punished because she wasn’t the person who they really wanted to qualify.
1 hour ago
Totally wrong. Such an embarrassment. Watch, Wagner will fall several times during the Olympics. She is not a very consistent skater. She falters when under pressure.
London, United Kingdom,
1 hour ago
No one will take Winter Olympics seriously if such things keep happening. I have lost interest already.
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