Ashley Wagner: ‘I’m in the last couple of years of my career’

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Ashley Wagner is coming off her greatest accomplishment in skating, but at 25 years old, won’t be competing too much longer.

“I am in the last couple of years of my career, and honestly I feel like I’m getting better and better every year,” Wagner said Thursday. “And I just want to enjoy the skating while I still have it.”

It would be no surprise if Wagner ends her career after the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, should she make a second straight Olympic team and become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928, according to sports-reference.com.

10/21 Update: Wagner elaborated on her comments before Skate America, saying she’s not ready to give an exact date when she will hang up her skates competitively. “I know I’m definitely toward the end of my career, and I want to go out toward the top. … I don’t want to be one of those skaters that hangs around forever.”

Wagner said she has nothing to prove after taking a silver medal at the world championships to end a 10-year U.S. podium drought and pin a longtime goal.

That makes Wagner the favorite at next week’s Skate America (free skate live on NBC on Oct. 22 from 4:30-6 p.m. ET), her biggest event since worlds in April.

“I can’t really rely on going into these competitions being a world silver medalist,” Wagner said. “I have to kind of accept that that happened. That’s the past, it’s something I have, but at the same time it doesn’t affect this season.”

Wagner has one competition under her belt this season, finishing third at the free skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1 behind world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia and Satoko Miyahara of Japan.

Wagner called it “very successful,” given she said she was not in shape for a run-through, let alone a competitive program.

“I knew that the program components weren’t really going to be there because, for me, it was more just a run-through and getting the jumps out there under pressure,” Wagner said. “The performance wasn’t really there as a whole.”

Wagner’s goal for Skate America is to establish herself “as the leading U.S. lady.”

That means bettering Gracie Gold, who traded U.S. titles with Wagner the last four seasons. Gold had the highest short program score at worlds but fell to fourth after the free skate as Wagner ascended.

Wagner approached last season’s U.S. Championships as a step toward the world championships. She set to make the three-woman worlds team (a top-three finish, essentially) rather than putting too much emphasis on winning the national title. She’s keeping that mindset this year.

“I just really want to pace myself through nationals [in January], and my focus is getting to worlds and getting back onto that podium,” Wagner said.

Wagner, Gold and three-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan headline the Skate America field.

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