2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Gracie Gold, Scott Hamilton comment on Ashley Wagner/Mirai Nagasu

1 Comment

Ashley Wagner and Mirai Nagasu weren’t the only skaters brought to tears over Sunday’s Olympic Team announcement.

Wagner cried in joy after making the three-woman team for Sochi on Sunday, 13 hours after finishing fourth at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Nagasu, who was third at the U.S. Championships, wept during her exhibition skate Sunday night.

Even U.S. champion Gracie Gold and NBC Olympics analyst Scott Hamilton got emotional over the decision.

Did Wagner deserve to be placed on the team over Nagasu due to her merit over the last year?

“I really wish that we had four or five spots going to Sochi,’’ Gold said on TODAY on Tuesday. “It’s so hard just to have three. The ladies’ field in the U.S. is so deep, and they’re all wonderful skaters. There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. I’m really good friends with Ashley and Mirai, and so we talked and we hugged and we cried, and it’s been a long journey for everybody.”

The U.S. Olympic Team is drawn from not only the U.S. Championships standings but also considering several national and international results over the last two seasons.

“The national championships aren’t the Olympic Trials,’’ Hamilton said on TODAY on Monday. “The selection process for the Olympic Games goes on for a couple of years before the Olympic Games, so the nationals are a part of that process, but it’s not the process. So when you look at Ashley Wagner and what she’s done over the last two years, winning nationals twice, placing high enough in the World Championships to allow three participants to go, she’s already earned her spot on the Olympic Team.”

Nagasu was fourth at the 2010 Olympics and led the 2010 World Championships after the short program. In competitions U.S. Figure Skating looks at when determining the Olympic Team, she was third and eighth in two 2013 Grand Prix series events and seventh at the 2013 U.S. Championships.

Wagner was third at the 2013 Grand Prix Final, fifth at the 2013 World Championships, first and second in two 2013 Grand Prix series events and first at the 2013 U.S. Championships

“I like to see somebody earn their spot on the team, but Ashley kind of did that,” Hamilton said. “Mirai, I adore. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, was to give her our traditional ice cream [Sunday] night with her eyes full of tears. She’s devastated, and my heart bleeds for her. I’m so sad for her, but the reason we have three women going to the Olympics is because of Ashley Wagner.”

Hamilton’s reference to three women going to the Olympics was due to Wagner and Gold finishing fifth and sixth at the 2013 World Championships.

They needed to have a combined placement of 13 or better, or else the U.S. would have had two women at the Olympics as it did in 2010.

Nagasu has yet to comment publicly on the decision. A statement from Nagasu was released Sunday night.

“I’m disappointed in the decision,” Nagasu said in the 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.”

List of athletes nominated to U.S. Olympic Team

Photos: Final Five meet the President, First Lady

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. first lady Michelle Obama(L) rests her elbow on the head of Olympian Simone Biles (2nd L) as President Barack Obama (R) speaks during an East Room event at the White House September 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. President Obama and the first lady welcome the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House to honor their participation and success in the Rio Olympic Games this year.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team spent extra time at the White House on Thursday after President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman did the splits with Obama, and even lifted vegetable dumbbells with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Gabby Douglas, who had her wisdom teeth removed earlier this week, did not attend the event.

MORE: Simone Biles discusses her future

Katherine Reutter ends early retirement

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 26:  Katherine Reutter of the United States celebrates the silver medal in the Ladies 1000m Short Track Speed Skating Final on day 15 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at Pacific Coliseum on February 26, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Katherine Reutter retired in 2013 at the age of 24, she never thought she would return to the ice. Three hip surgeries and two major back injuries left the two-time Olympic short track speed skating medalist in constant pain.

But now Reutter is scheduled to compete this weekend at the U.S. Speedskating Short Track World Cup Qualifier at the Utah Olympic Oval.

“You wouldn’t expect somebody who has been as injured as I have to be back at their best,” Reutter said in a telephone interview from Utah. “I feel like I’m getting close.”

Reutter only started contemplating a comeback last November, after being inspired by attending a World Cup race as a member of the U.S. Speedskating Athlete Advisory Council.

She began a regimen of yoga twice a week and daily 30-minute walks when she returned to Milwaukee, where she was working as a coach for the Academy of Skating Excellence.

“I started off really, really slow,” she said. “I started to work out the amount that a normal person probably should.”

Pain free, Reutter began skating during the practices that she was coaching.

“I noticed the days I came home really happy were the days where I had skated,” she said.

Reutter only started to truly believe that she could return to skating competitively when she clocked times that she described as “pretty darn good” a training camp in Salt Lake City in May and June.

She has learned to listen to her body. After experiencing pain when she scheduled twice-daily workouts six days per week, she scaled back to four or five days per week.

“I don’t really have the option to overtrain like I used to,” she said.

Reutter’s goal this weekend is to earn a placement for the ISU World Cup, which begins Nov. 4-6 in Calgary. Eventually, she would like to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But Reutter would be happy just being, well, happy.

“I am trying to live life to its happiest every single day,” she said, “and speed skating allows me to do that.”

Reutter recently changed her Twitter bio to say “comeback queen.”

“So far I’m the only one who calls me that,” she said, laughing. “I suppose people could get on board eventually”

MORE: Five athletes to know before the 2018 Winter Olympics