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Ashley Wagner Gears Up for Skate America

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The U.S. ladies have not had stellar performances during the Grand Prix so far this season. Out of all of the U.S. ladies, Ashley Wagner is the only one who may still make it to the Grand Prix Final. Ashley’s fate will be determined by her performance at Skate America on November 24-26 in Lake Placid.

Wagner began her Grand Prix season at Skate Canada where she came from seventh place after the short to capture the bronze medal. It was one of those events where not many ladies skated well. It was almost out of pure luck that Ashley was rewarded with the bronze. Even she admits it was not a performance that she was extremely proud of.

“…I got a medal at Skate Canada and that’s a great start to my season, but I’m really more focused on what I need to do going into Skate America,” Wagner said during a media call on November 15. “I can’t just rely on having one medal with a mediocre skate. I need to go out to Skate America and be solid and get on the podium and really earn that top spot.”

The increased value of the Grand Prix Final

Ashley Wagner has been in the senior ranks for 11 years, so she knows the benefits as well as the drawbacks of making the Grand Prix Final. This season is different than previous ones as the U.S. Olympic Team will be decided upon based on the athletes full body of work throughout the season and not what the results are at the U.S. Championships. It is no longer about who are the top three women at the U.S. Championships, it’s really about who has the best competitive season overall.

“Going into this event [Skate America] with the chance to potentially make it to the Grand Prix Final, it’s very important,” Wagner explained. “To be the only U.S. lady to make it to the Final would give me a nice feeling going into nationals, knowing that I have that criteria checked off. Beyond that, going to the Grand Prix Final is the difference between 5 weeks of training and something like 3 before the national championships. It’s a blessing and a curse at that point, but I think to establish myself as one of the top 6 in the world at this point in the season would be huge for me going into this Olympic season and for getting onto the Olympic Team.”

This will be Ashley’s fourth time competing at Skate America. She won the gold in 2016, silver in 2013 and the gold in 2012. Wagner will likely need to make it onto to the podium at Skate America in order to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where the top 6 women figure skaters in the world will compete. The Grand Prix Final is a prelude to the Olympic Games. How Wagner performs during Skate America, and if she makes it to the Final, will direct her trajectory for the rest of the season.

Preparing for another Olympics

Wagner was an alternate at the 2010 Olympics, made the Olympic Team and captured the team bronze in 2014 and now she is in the running once again, making this her third Olympic cycle. She has not yet decided what will happen after this season concludes as she does not want to add any additional pressure on this season than there already is. She knows that her career is coming to an end sooner rather than later, but she is not sure when that time will be exactly. For now, she is focused on Skate America and making the Olympic Team again. Unlike years past, Ashley now has the benefit of having a perspective that she did not have during her first Olympic cycle.

“I now expect insanity,” Ashley said with a laugh. “I also now understand that it’s just skating and it’s just another competition. It’s so easy to make the Olympics this massive beast and become overwhelmed and intimidated by it. At the end of the day it’s literally just another run through in front of the judges. As much experience as I have with the Olympic Games and trials, I know what to expect. I know how to handle it and I know how to make sure that it doesn’t get out of control for me mentally and emotionally.”

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