Wagner gambles on 'vicious' new routine

Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:21pm EST
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By Alissa de Carbonnel

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Controversially gifted a spot on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team despite an error-strewn performance at the national championships, Ashley Wagner decided only radical change would give her shot at the podium in Sochi.

Wagner ditched the problematic long program she had been rehearsing all season just weeks before the February 7-23 Sochi Olympics. She concedes making the decision so close to the Games was a massive gamble.

"It is absolutely crazy, insane that I decided to change it, but I am so passionate about what I do and so driven to get onto that Olympic podium, I just felt in my heart that program was not going to get me there," she said.

"It's a big risk."

Wagner's skate at nationals ended in tears, fourth place and a sleepless night while she prayed selectors would overlook her performance and select her for one of the three places.

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.

However, a nine-member panel awarded it to Wagner based on the two-time national champion's past performances.   Continued...

Ashley Wagner of the U.S. skates during a figure skating training sesssion in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Iceberg Skating Palace, February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson