By Pritha Sarkar
SOCHI, Russia, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Ashley Wagner was picked ahead of U.S. Nationals champion Gracie Gold to compete in the women's short programme of the team event at the Sochi Games, U.S. Figure Skating said on Friday.
The Americans had been tipped as medal contenders but an abysmal display by Jeremy Abbott on Thursday left them trailing in seventh place in the standings and in danger of missing the cut for the free skates.
Only the top five teams after the short programmes will get a chance to battle it out for the medals. Russia with 19 points, Canada, China and Japan occupy the top four spots while the United States have 10 points.
Wagner will be determined to justify her selection for the Olympics as she failed to secure an outright place on the team after finishing out of the medals at last month's Nationals.
However, her top five finishes at the last two world championships helped to secure her a ride to Sochi at the expense of national bronze medallist Mirai Nagasu.
Also skating for the United States on Saturday will be world champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)