BOSTON – Ashley Wagner was controversially named to the United States women's Olympic team on Sunday despite her disappointing fourth-place finish at the U.S. Championships this weekend.
Wagner, the two-time U.S. champion and fifth-place finisher in the World Championships, was awarded the third spot on the roster just hours after being highly critical of her own effort at TD Garden, where the Nationals typically serve as the de facto Olympic trials.
Vancouver Olympian Mirai Nagasu finished third here but will miss out on Sochi, as Gracie Gold, 18, and Polina Edmunds, 15, were awarded the first two spots.
In previous years, the finishing order at the Nationals has generally been used to select the squad, with the only changes coming as a result of injury.
Wagner admitted she feared that she would miss out for the second straight Olympics.
"I am at a loss for words right now," a tearful Wagner said. "It has been a really long four years. It wasn't my night last night. I am happy my federation was able to see beyond one bad skate."
Wagner suffered a nerve-wracking night waiting for the decision and admitted she feared being left on the bubble. Gold had no such concerns and was effectively a lock on the team after clinching her first national title on Saturday with a runaway performance that secured her 211.69 points and marked her as a serious gold medal threat in Sochi.
"The Olympics are not just another competition," Gold said. "It is the ultimate dream."
U.S. figure skating chief Pat St. Peter defended the decision to select Wagner over Nagasu, who was one of the darlings of the Vancouver Games after skating part of her routine while suffering a bleeding nose but has struggled over the intervening years.
"We have selection guidelines that have been put in place," said St. Peter, insisting that Wagner's strong overall season had tipped her over the edge. "If you look at Ashley Wagner's record and performance she has the top credentials. It is an objective analysis."
Rumors of a possible protest by Nagasu circulated shortly after the women's selections, but Nagasu released a statement Sunday evening to accept the outcome.
“I’m disappointed in the decision," Nagasu said. "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.”
In pairs, national champions Marisa Castelli and Simon Schnapir, and Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were chosen for the Sochi Games.
In ice dance, the U.S. will be represented by 2010 Olympic silver medalists Charlie White and Meryl Davis, Alex and Maya Shibutani, and Evan Bates and Madison Chock. The men's team will be selected after Sunday night's free skate, the final event of the Nationals.