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

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

Leave a comment

U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37