Hot On Ice And Headed to Sochi: Ashley Wagner Competes at the 2014 Olympics

Ashley Wagner, the 22-year-old “military brat” from Alexandria, VA who is hot off of skating her way into fifth place in the 2013 World Championships, secured her place in Sochi this February.

“Hot. Cool. Yours.” This is the slogan of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and it is certainly the slogan for Ashley Wagner, the 22-year-old “military brat” from Alexandria, VA who is hot off of skating her way into fifth place in the 2013 World Championships, securing her place in Sochi this February.

Wagner was five years old when she began skating. “My family was living right outside of Anchorage, Alaska. I was cooped up inside the house diving my mom crazy,” Wagner says of why she started, “so she gave me the choice between skating and ballet. Some of my friends skated, and the rest is ancient history.”

The “rest,” of course, is marked by hours of training and countless titles. Two-time U.S National Champion, 2012 Four Continents Champion, two-time U.S bronze medalist, two-time Junior World bronze medalist, and now, U.S Olympian.

But it wasn’t all fun and games for Wagner, who barely missed making the 2010 Olympic team and ended up as an alternate for the Vancouver Games. In the years since she has proven she is no alternate. In fact, she is the first woman to win consecutive U.S titles (2012 and 2013) since Michelle Kwan, and says that the disappointment she faced after missing the Olympic team four years ago only helped her to re-evaluate her goals and realize her number one goal remained the same: to compete in the Olympics.

She was six when she realized that Olympic dream. “I watched Tara Lipinski win the ’98 Olympics in Nagano, and from that moment on I knew I always wanted to go to the Olympics,” Wagner said, “I was so inspired by Tara, and seeing her reaction when she realized she had won gold looked like such an incredible experience. From then on I was hooked.”

Wagner, with her father in the military, moved around a lot growing up, but continued skating along to way. “I feel that moving around so much gave me the opportunity to work with an amazing group of coaches. My skating feels more well rounded because so many people have influenced my style of skating,” she said. For seven years, Wagner lived right here in the DMC in Alexandria, VA and skated at Mount Vernon RECenter, where she loved walking through Old Town with a cup of coffee and going into DC. “I could get lost in the Smithsonian for hours,” she said.

Since 2011, Ms. Wagner has resided and trained in Aliso Viejo, CA under coach John Nicks, the 1953 World Champion for pairs figure skating, whose past skaters include Kristi Yamaguchi and Sasha Cohen. Most recently she announced that Nicks, who is 84 years old, has “decided to retire from traveling to competitions.” Nicks will continue to coach Wagner at home, but Rafael Arutyunyan will now help her train and travel with her to competitions.

Ms. Wagner also recently changed program choreographers. “I was ready to take my skating to the next level, and I felt that skating with a new choreographer would help me improve,” she said.

For the current 2013-2014 season, her programs include a short program to “Shine on Your Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd and a free skate to “Romeo & Juliet” by Prokofiev. “Since I have to listen to the music in my programs for a year, it needs to be something that I love,” Wagner said of choosing music for her programs. “I usually try to choose dynamic pieces of music that can really help me tell a story. The more I relate to a piece of music the easier it is for me to tell the story.”

As it gets closer to the Olympics, Ms. Wagner will make a few changes to her training schedule, which usually includes about 3-4 sessions a day, with two off-ice training sessions mixed in. Wagner said, “My training will most likely simmer down a bit going into the Olympics. I’ll start to just focus on my programs and maintaining my technical abilities. This summer is mostly for me to focus on learning new jumps and choreography.”

While her training may lessen, her excitement for Sochi grows. “I’ve always wanted to walk in the Opening Ceremonies. I can only imagine how insane that must be for the athletes,” Wagner said of what she is most looking forward to about the games.

Ashley Wagner will continue to skate and competes in events this fall like the Japan Open in October and the Trophee Bombard in Paris in November, as well as making Pandora appearances (Wagner is a style ambassador of the jewelry brand) in September.

Then, in February, it’s off to Sochi to make the Winter Olympics’ slogan, and her dream, a reality.

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