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Report: Ashley Wagner will lead U.S. in new team figure skating event

Click above to see more photos of Ashley Wagner. (USA TODAY Sports)

Ashley Wagner, expected to be one of the most notable faces of Team USA, will lead the United States in the inaugural team skating event at Sochi this weekend, according to a USA Today report.

Wagner, a two-time national champion, will represent the U.S. in the short program on Saturday, while Gracie Gold will headline the long program on Sunday. USA Today quoted multiple anonymous sources because the official news is not expected until Wednesday. On the men's side, Jeremy Abbott will skate the short program, while Jason Brown will handle the long program.

[Photos: Meet your Team USA figure skaters]

The competition will begin Thursday evening with men's and pairs' programs, continuing through Sunday when the medals will be awarded.

This new event is designed as a skating equivalent to golf's Ryder Cup, where players compete in a variety of formats while representing their nations. Team skating comprises men's, women's, pairs', and dance programs, and 10 nations will be participating.

"The United States is a very strong team," Wagner said. "Absolutely hands down, I think the U.S. is one of the front-runners for a medal in the team event." Canada and Russia are also projected as medal favorites.

Wagner is certainly one of the early stories heading into the Sochi Games. She was named to the U.S. team despite a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January. Later, she revealed that she has changed her entire routine just weeks before the Olympics begin.

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Jay Busbee is a contributor for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

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