The lonely pursuit of Olympic happiness

SOCHI, Russia – Ashley Wagner's quest for Winter Games success has admittedly made her a loser in love.

The United States figure skating star's relentless pursuit of an Olympic team spot was finally achieved this year, but she says her devotion to figure skating has made it impossible to have a normal relationship off the ice.

[Photos: The 38 amazing faces of Ashley Wagner]

"It's tough because any guy I meet has to understand that I've been in a relationship with skating for 17 years," Wagner told Yahoo Sports. "Skating's going to come first, and at the same time, I can't go out on dates and things like that.

"I have to save my energy for [on the ice], so it's tough kind of having to balance how much you're going to give to this sport and how much you're going to give yourself to have a normal, fulfilling life."

Wagner tweeted out a hilarious message to her fans on Valentine's Day including the now-famous photo of her unimpressed face after competing in the short program of the team event.

To become an elite figure skater, the 22-year-old Wagner made the requisite sacrifices. Typical teenage activities such as hanging out with friends did not happen, and she admits a tinge of sadness despite insisting the payoff of reaching the Olympics made it all worthwhile.

"It's tough because when you're really trying to make a name for yourself in skating, it's right around the time you're in high school," Wagner said. "So I didn't really get to have a normal prom experience. I didn't get to walk with my graduating class because I was going through a teen camp. I couldn't go see a movie with my friends on a Thursday night because I had to train. So a lot of normal social experiences I had to give up.

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"But now, a couple years down the road, I get to have so many incredible experiences that my friends are sitting behind a desk at a job they hate, while I'm living this life. So I am absolutely happy with what I did."

Prom night for Wagner at West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, Va., involved an early night in bed while receiving messages from her peers.

"I think I had to watch a movie and go to bed because I had to be on the ice at five," she said. "I was getting texts and I was getting pictures, and it was fine. It was what it was. You definitely have to give up a lot – just like the little things for skating."

In Sochi, Wagner has been able to mingle with like-minded souls who have also given up a normal life in the pursuit of Olympic success. Or, as Wagner put it, "weirdos like me."

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She is also determined to make things count after just missing out on the U.S. team for the Vancouver Games. Wagner, who was a controversial selection to the U.S. squad after a disappointing fourth-place finish at Nationals last month, has already collected a bronze medal as part of the American squad in the team competition.

Wagner will be joined by teammates Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds in the ladies event that starts on Wednesday. Defending champion Kim Yuna of South Korea is expected to battle Japan's Mao Asada, Italy's Carolina Kostner and home favorite Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia.

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