Ashley Wagner

TODAY

Ashley Wagner: U.S. Figure Skating made the right call (video)

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Ashley Wagner said a U.S. Figure Skating selection committee “absolutely made the right call” leaving her off the Olympic team, but she stands by her critical comments of judging from Friday night.

Wagner spoke on TODAY on Wednesday morning, four days after the three-time U.S. champion was left off the PyeongChang Olympic team.

Wagner, the 2016 World silver medalist, finished fourth at nationals, the last event to decide the three-woman Olympic team.

Four years ago, Wagner also finished fourth and was put on the Olympic team over third-place Mirai Nagasu.

This year’s Olympic team is U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, silver medalist Nagasu and bronze medalist Karen Chen.

Wagner also said Wednesday that she’s training for an upcoming competition, presumably the Four Continents Championships in Taiwan in two weeks.

Here are some of Wagner’s comments from Friday, followed by video of her TODAY interview Wednesday:

“I’m furious. I am absolutely furious. I know when I go and I lay it down, and I absolutely left one jump on the table. But for me to put out two programs that I did at this competition, as solid as I skated, and to get those scores, I am furious, and I think deservedly so. I am a performer, and that second mark is just not there.

“I am absolutely OK with [judges] being strict on my [jump] rotations. That’s what I think that U.S. Figure Skating should demand of their judges, but you know it needs to be across the board. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s been that way at this event, so we’ll see how things pan out.

“Even though I’m mad about my score, that [free] program was such an experience for me. I skated with heart. I took a program that’s a month old, and I delivered something that was solid and something I’m proud of. It definitely can use a little bit more legwork, but that’s because it’s a month old. It was the right call, and I have no doubt in my mind that ‘La La Land’ was the program that was going to get me where I wanted to be.

“At this point it’s up to the selection committee to see what I have done this season. I don’t like this position that I’m in. You can always say that I put myself in this spot, but I think I had some help getting there.”

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Bradie Tennell leads Olympic figure skating team; Ashley Wagner left off

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U.S. champion Bradie TennellMirai Nagasu and Karen Chen are going to PyeongChang. Ashley Wagner was left off the Olympic team.

A U.S. Figure Skating committee chose the three-woman Olympic team after the national championships free skate on Friday night.

The committee went with the top three finishers from nationals, though it could have strayed based on this criteria. Wagner was fourth and one of three Olympic alternates.

Tennell, 19, leads the team after winning her first senior national title as part of a breakout season.

The Chicagoland native was nearly flawless with jumps in San Jose, topping the short program and free skate one year after placing ninth at nationals.

“I knew it was an Olympic year, and I knew that somebody has to go, so I just kind of kept it in the back of my mind all season,” Tennell, who missed six months between the last two years due to back injuries, said Friday night. “The first time it entered my mind was when I won my junior title back in 2015, and probably the reason I thought that is that a lot of previous Olympic team members have won junior titles, so I thought, ‘Ooh, this is the first step to making the Olympics.’”

Tennell is the top U.S. woman overall this season, ranking 14th in the world. A U.S. women’s medal in PyeongChang against the top skaters from Russia, Japan, Canada and Italy would be a tall ask.

Nagasu is going back to the Olympics eight years after she finished fourth in Vancouver and 10 years after her national title as a 14-year-old.

Nagasu bawled Friday night, and for good reason.

She was tearfully left off the 2014 Olympic team of three women, despite finishing third at nationals. A committee put fourth-place Wagner on the Sochi team because of the aforementioned criteria.

“I’m aware that I’m the oldest here tonight, but I really feel like the comeback kid,” Nagasu, whose two programs at nationals were highlighted by triple Axels (though with messy landings), said Friday night. “I cannot wait for the decision to come out because I cannot wait to be that 5-year-old girl who began this journey.”

Chen, the youngest team member at 18, edged Wagner for bronze by 2.4 points on Friday night.

The 2017 U.S. champion and fourth-place finisher at 2017 Worlds said she was bedridden by sickness all Thursday.

“I’m just so proud of myself that I was able to forget about all the pain I was in and just keep reminding myself that I trained so hard for this moment and I’m not going to let some stupid sickness win,” Chen said.

Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion and the only American woman to win an individual Olympic or world medal in the last decade.

The 2016 World silver medalist tried to rally from a fifth-place short program with a brand-new free skate to “La La Land” but struggled with jumps and was given lower-than-usual artistic scores overall.

Afterward, Wagner said she was underscored and criticized judges (video here). She said she deserved to be put on the team like she was in 2014.

U.S. Figure Skating president Sam Auxier disagreed and said the 13 committee members’ decision was unanimous.

“We’d be having a different conversation if she had done a clean [triple-triple] combination in the short and hit the level four spin [in the free skate],” said Auxier, who was part of the committee. “She’s a great athlete, and hopefully she will stay in the sport.”

The committee looked at results from the last year in picking the team, and Wagner is coming off her two worst seasons in several years. Chen’s better results from 2017 Nationals and Worlds boosted her case.

“Clearly, Bradie and Mirai with their scores and their performances were easy one and two,” Auxier said. “The discussion between Karen and Ashley was pretty academic. Karen was fourth at worlds last year; Ashley seventh. Then third versus fourth at this U.S. Championships. So it was very straightforward, clear criteria for selecting Karen as the third member of the team.”

Wagner was named to the team for the Four Continents Championships in three weeks.

“As an athlete, I’m allowed to be mad,” was posted on Wagner’s social media after the Olympic team was named. “As a senior competitor with over 10 years of experience, I’m allowed to question things. At the end of the day, I laid out my best and I’m going home proud! Congrats to the lovely ladies of the team, you’ve got me in your cheering squad now!”

The U.S. Championships continue Saturday with the pairs’ and men’s free skates. A full broadcast schedule is here.

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Bradie Tennell wins U.S. title; Mirai Nagasu 2nd; Ashley Wagner 4th

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Bradie Tennell is your U.S. champion. Silver medalist Mirai Nagasu appears headed back to the Olympics after tearfully being left off the 2014 team.

And bronze medalist Karen Chen will round out the three-woman U.S. Olympic team over fourth-place Ashley Wagner, should a committee stick to the standings from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday night.

But that’s not a sure thing.

Wagner, the three-time national champion and face of U.S. women’s skating, placed fourth for the second straight nationals in an Olympic year.

In 2014, Wagner was placed on the Olympic team over third-place Nagasu. Will a committee using this criteria of results from the past year put Wagner on the team again?

Wagner said she was underscored and deserved a spot on the Olympic team.

VIDEO: Wagner ‘furious’ about nationals scores

The Olympic team of three women — again, not necessarily the top three at nationals — will be announced Saturday at 8 a.m. ET on TODAY.

The U.S. Championships continue Saturday with the pairs and men’s free skates on NBC and NBCSN and streaming on NBCOlympics.com.

NATIONALS: Full Results | TV Schedule

Tennell, 19, has been a revelation since placing ninth at the 2017 Nationals. She took bronze in her Grand Prix debut at Skate America on Thanksgiving weekend and entered nationals with the two highest scores among Americans this season.

Tennell’s jumping was nearly impeccable in both programs where every other top U.S. woman had struggles.

She topped the short program by seven tenths of a point and the free skate by nearly five points, with Nagasu runner-up both nights.

“I can’t believe it,” Tennell, the 2015 U.S. junior champion, said on NBC. “I can’t put it into words. … I think the sky’s the limit for me.”

Nagasu, 24, matched her best finish at nationals since winning her only title in 2008. She made the 2010 Olympic team, was fourth at those Winter Games, and topped the 2010 Worlds short program but never reached those levels internationally again.

Her most memorable skate may have been the 2014 U.S. Championships exhibition, when she tearfully performed hours after she was left off the Olympic team in favor of Wagner.

She added the triple Axel this season and landed it messy in both programs but was given credit for the jump. Quite the longevity for the Californian who fell on a double Axel in her 2008 Nationals free skate.

Chen won last year’s national title and was fourth at the 2017 Worlds, two results that boost her resume in the eyes of the selection committee.

In 2014, Wagner had the credentials as defending U.S. champion and top U.S. woman in international competition. She has not been at that level in more than one year.

Wagner, in her first time competing her “La La Land” free skate on Friday, singled a planned triple Salchow as part of a combination. She also under-rotated a late triple Lutz, two-footing the landing.

When she received her score, lower than her free skate at the last three nationals, Wagner shook her head from left to right and raised her eyebrows in concern.

Wagner was in danger after placing fifth in Wednesday’s short program. She has had two poor seasons — by her standards — since winning the 2016 World silver medal.

It may have been her final competition.

It appears none of the Sochi Olympians will make it back for PyeongChang.

Gracie Gold, the top U.S. woman in Sochi, is sitting out nationals after receiving treatment for depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. Gold is in San Jose to support the competing skaters and tweeting up a storm.

The third 2014 U.S. Olympian, Polina Edmunds, withdrew before the free skate due to right foot pain, according to her social media.

Edmunds, the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports in Sochi, was seventh in the short program. She missed the entire 2016-17 season due to a bone bruise in her right foot and was ranked 13th among U.S. women this season going into nationals.

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