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.”