Two-time U.S. ladies' figure skating champion Ashley Wagner was named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic figure skating team despite a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2014 championships in Boston, setting off a firestorm of negative media attention. During a Jan. 23 conference call with reporters, Wagner named a surprising source of comfort in the challenging days that followed the team reveal.
After calling some of the unflattering responses to her nomination "absolutely unacceptable" and opining "it's a shame that people feel so comfortable saying" negative things about people with whom they're not personally acquainted, Wagner, 22, changed gears and called the support she'd received "incredibly overwhelming."
When pressed to name a specific source of comfort, she cited an unlikely person: 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, who was denied a spot on the Sochi-bound team despite a bronze medal finish at nationals. Wagner called Nagasu's handling of her omission from the team "phenomenal," and revealed that shortly after the three-woman roster that features herself, Polina Edmunds and new national champ Gracie Gold was revealed, Nagasu sent Wagner a text that read "you belong on the team, good luck, love you." Wagner called Nagasu's endorsement "all I needed to feel right" about the sticky selection situation.
Although she said nothing more about the much-hyped controversy and didn't give an opinion as to whether or not the selection committee made the correct choice in taking Edmunds, just 15, over Nagasu, Wagner offered up high praise for the teen, calling Edmunds "a welcome surprise" with "a promising career" in her future.
Olympic figure skating action in Sochi kicks off Feb. 6 with the first round of the newly implemented team competition.