Wagner gifted spot on U.S. squad for Sochi

Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:57pm EST
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(Reuters) - Ashley Wagner was gifted a spot on the U.S. Olympic figure skating squad for the Sochi Winter Games on Sunday after finishing fourth at the national championships.

Wagner, a two-time national champion, bungled her free skate at the U.S. championships on Saturday, dropping into fourth with only three Olympic berths on offer.

But a nine-member panel still selected her for Sochi, based on past performances.

Gracie Gold earned her Olympic ticket after capturing her first national title while 15-year-old sensation Polina Edmunds took second, locking up two of the three spots.

Mirai Nagasu, who was fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, placed third and had looked set to grab the final position only to see it awarded to Wagner.

"I'm disappointed in the decision," said Nagasu in a statement. "Though I may not agree with it, I have to respect the decision the federation made.

"And I'm grateful to everyone who has supported me and look forward to what comes next in my skating career."

While the U.S. Olympic squad is selected largely on the results of the national championships, a nine-member selection panel has the final say and has the power to consider past results and other factors in making a decision.

The nominations still must be approved by the United States Olympic Committee before becoming official.   Continued...

Figure skater Ashley Wagner walks offstage after being introduced as part of the United States' women's figure skating team for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, during a news conference at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, Massachusetts January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder