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Associated Press
Ashley Wagner was picked for the U.S. Olympic team despite finishing fourth at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Ex-US champ finishes 4th, gets Olympic spot

– The names on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team were still supposed to be a secret, so Ashley Wagner slipped under the stands to cry.

Hours after a performance she described as a “tearful little wimp out on the ice,” the two-time national champion was picked to go to the Sochi Games.

She finished a distant fourth at the U.S. Championships on Saturday night, and only three American women make the Olympics. But this event isn’t the only criterion U.S. Figure Skating takes into account.

“If you look at Ashley Wagner’s record and performance, she’s got the top credentials of any of our female athletes,” said the organization’s president, Patricia St. Peter.

And so the third-place finisher, Mirai Nagasu, was passed over Sunday. Fifteen-year-old Polina Edmunds, who was second, was selected even though she has never competed in an international senior event.

Nagasu has some pretty impressive credentials herself – she was fourth at the 2010 Games as a 16-year-old. But U.S. Figure Skating’s selection guidelines consider only the past year, and Nagasu had mostly struggled until a resurgent performance at nationals.

The one no-brainer was Gracie Gold, who won her first U.S. title Saturday in a runaway.

The Olympics will also be a homecoming for U.S. pairs champion Simon Shnapir, who was born in Russia. He gleefully said “We’re going to Sochi” in Russian when it was announced that he and partner Marissa Castelli were on the team. They will be joined by runners-up Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.

The U.S. has three spots in ice dancing, and top-three finishers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were picked. The top-two men’s finishers were also selected for the Americans’ spots: Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Davis and White, the reigning world champs, are the Americans’ best – and perhaps only – hope for a figure skating gold medal. They won silver in Vancouver, and after four years spent establishing themselves as tops in the world, their chance to move up one step on the podium is finally here.

“Obviously we’re going into these games with very high expectations,” White said. “We’ve had a lot of great momentum over the last four years since the 2010 Games. We feel like we’ve put ourselves in a really great position to come home with a gold medal.”

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