Ashley Wagner has done it again. Thursday night she slammed figure skating judges at the Sochi Olympics for what she claims were inflated scores given to Russian figure skaters. In the process, Wagner managed to infuriate figure skating fans who have yet to forgive her for taking up Mirai Nagasu's rightly earned spot at the Olympics.
Figure skating fans were outraged last month when the US Figure Skating Association chose fourth place skater Ashley Wagner over bronze medalist Mirai Nagasu, to represent the US at the Sochi Olympics. Some say it was favoritism and others say it was thanks to the lucrative sponsorship support that Wagner had secured.
One thing is true; Ashley Wagner did not show up at nationals. And while the decision to place her in the Olympics, instead of Nagasu, was within the USFSA’s never-exercised-before guidelines; no one can negate that Wagner’s Sochi spot was a gift she did not earn and it showed at the Olympics.
Many figure skating fans vented their disgust over Wagner’s selection on social media. Figure skating fan Teresa A. Murphy said of Ashley Wagner’s Olympic spot, “she was PLACED in the Olympics....she didn't EARN her position.”
Long-time figure skating aficionado J.M. Gassen commented on Facebook: “I would love to know if she realizes how many fans she turned away from figure skating with her gifted trip to Sochi. I've watched skating for years and I almost had no desire to watch this year. Thank you Ashley Wagner and the US committee for cheapening the sport.”
Despite all the TV commercials she made with her sponsors and all the hype that NBC propelled her for, Wagner’s Olympic performances were just as disappointing as they were at US nationals.
Many of her jumps were downgraded thursday night and her overall performance was firm but junior level. Yet she seemed shocked when the Olympic judges marked her appropriately for this. Even NBC commentator and former US figure skating champ, Tara Lipinsky said about her long program, “Not the performance she was looking for” despite Wagner’s happy grin and fist pumping immediately after her performance.
Perhaps Amy Davidson from The New Yorker said it best:
To pleasantly immerse oneself in the American Olympic experience, one must be like Wagner: thrilled and oblivious to all but our most blatantly clumsy mistakes.
Or perhaps Ashley Wagner has grown accustomed to her own inflated marks. US judges gave her extremely generous marks at the 2013 US nationals and crowned her national champ yet again despite her botchy performance. Gracie Gold skated a clean and impeccable performance. This year, although the title was decisively earned by Gold, the USFSA still managed to include Wagner at the Sochi Olympics despite a disappointing performance, two falls and her fourth place finish.
At the Olympics, despite a less than perfect performance, Wagner was given generous marks, even marking a season’s best performance. However, Ashley Wagner is crying foul. She said she felt gypped,
"People don't want to watch a sport where you see people fall down and somehow score above someone who goes clean. It is confusing and we need to make it clear for you. To be completely honest, this sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it. People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can't depend on that person to be the one who pulls through. People need to be held accountable." (Yahoo! Sports)
Really? The pot calling the kettle black. Hypocrisy at its best.
The twitter-verse was on fire. Laura L. quoted Wagner’s words and tweeted, “…Which is why you should not be in Sochi #MiraiEarnedIt”
And Robbby Brenzoo tweeted this, “Now that is crazy! She who was given her spot as a gift? She complains? Lacking class indeed. “
While some believe that Olympic judges were colluding to crown Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, nothing could be farther from the truth. Had the judges given Lipnitskaya the gold medal, despite her fall, that would have been favoritism. After all, the Russian darling was Lipnitskaya, not Sotnikova.
Sotnikova herself was shunned by the Russian figure skating federation in favor of the 15-year old phenom, Lipitskaya. Although no one in the media was talking about Adelina, it didn’t mean that she didn’t have a chance. She had already beaten Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner at the European Championships earlier this year.
South Korea’s Yuna Kim skated beautifully at the Olympics but the hunger she had in 2010 to win back her title, was nowhere to be seen.
The Olympics are about showing up when it counts, just as nationals should be. Wagner didn’t show up then and yet she was given a spot at Sochi. Sotnikova certainly showed up and boy did she have fire in her performance!
Sotnikova skated a flawless short program. In her long program, she skated seven triple jumps with five of them being in combination. Yuna Kim only had six triple jumps and only three of them were in combination. Yuna Kim’s beautiful skating gave her higher marks in the components scores but Sotnikova’s highly charged technical program gave her the edge over the South Korean.
Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko agrees. In an interview with USA Today Sports, Stojko said, “Adelina came loaded. Did the other two have more beautiful skating? Absolutely. But it’s a sport, and this was totally fair.”