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2014 Winter Olympics

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Ashley Wagner takes an 'insane' risk

 Ashley Wagner competes in the free skate program during the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden on January 11, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

For the longest time Ashley Wagner was deemed as “the almost girl.” She came in third at nationals in 2010 when there was only two spots on the Olympic team, so she almost made the Olympic Team, but not quite. She was devastated.

Ashley had a few rough seasons and then took some time to consider if she even wanted to continue to skate and she decided to give it one last shot and gave it all she had, and it showed. That year she won her first U.S. Championships and a fierce fire was lit inside of her that led her to two successful years of competing and a second national title in 2013.

Wagner has competed well on an international level, finishing second at the Grand Prix Final in 2012 and third at the Grand Prix Final in 2013. She finished in fourth at the World Championships in 2012 and fifth in 2013.

Recently her road started to get incredibly bumpy. She started off this season with some dramatic unforeseen changes. Her parents divorced, her head coach determined to retire from traveling and everything was going down hill for her.

Thanks to her ever changing lifestyle as an army brat moving nine times in a matter of years, Ashley knew how to get her feet back under her and quickly. She chose a new coach, went back to work and started really working her triple-triple combo, which she will definitely need at the Olympic Games. Ashley has managed to get everything back on track and has even had one of the best season of all the U.S. ladies, then came the U.S. Championships.

When interviewed in September of 2013, she was already thinking about this event as it serves as somewhat of an Olympic qualifier and her worst fear was to have history repeat itself and not make the Olympic Team for the second time around.

Ashley had a flawed short program and fell twice in her free skate. She admitted that she was “skating scared”, focused more on what she could lose and what was at stake than anything else and this mindset resulted in a fourth place finish. There are three spots allotted for the ladies Olympic Team and with a fourth place finish it was unclear if she would make the team. Due to her strong international scoring over the past two years, she was still named to the team and finally fulfilled her dream.

"My dream has come true," Ashley said at the teleconference on Thursday, January 23. "I just need to skate through the rest of it."

Wagner has now chosen to change her free skate, risky for sure, but for someone who adapts easily to change it is a bold move, but still doable. After pleading with her coach for this change, he finally agreed though with some stipulations. Wagner is going back to her Sampson and Delilah program from last season, yet some of the choreography will be from her Romeo and Juliet program as well. She calls it her “Frankenstein of a program,” but as long as it works for her, that’s all that really matters.

“I think that the decision I made to change my program is is insane, absolutely insane," Ashley expressed, "But I don’t think that there is anyone else in the world that is more prepared for a big change like this so close to the Olympics then I am. I think that I grew up living a chaotic life, I’m use to kind of having to adjust and change to things on the spot and I really think that’s one of my strengths.”

Wagner has an uphill battle ahead as there is still much controversy surrounding her about her place on the Olympic Team, not to mention all of her changes in her free skate, but if she comes out with that fierce fight that we have seen from her in the past, it will all be worth it.

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