Mirai Nagasu (L) finished third at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this weekend. She will not be participating in this year’s Winter Olympic Games. Former two-time champion Ashley Wagner ® finished fourth. She will be going on to the Games. Traditionally, the top three finishers in an Olympic year comprise the U.S. squad. So what happened? Well:
In a sport governed by the subjectivity of judging, reputation matters. Wagner’s experience could also prove pivotal to American medal hopes in a new team skating event in Sochi. “If you look at Ashley Wagner’s record and performance, she’s got the top credentials of any of our female athletes,"said Pat St. Peter, the president of U.S. Figure Skating. Wagner has also been heavily promoted by the skating association and NBC, which will broadcast the Sochi Games. With Lindsey Vonn out of the skiing competition with an injury, an absent Wagner would have left the United States – and the network – without another visible star and medal hopeful. Wagner, who lives in Aliso Viejo, Calif., also was one of the few athletes who had spoken publicly against antigay legislation passed in Russia ahead of the Olympics.