14 January 2014

US Skating Federation break their selection criteria for the sponsors dollar

Anyone who is anyone in sport will tell you that US Olympic selection is rigid. If you want to take one of the three spots your nation has in that sport you have to be in one of the top three spaces in that sport's trial or national championship.

With winter sport and the threat of injury for most of them there have been the odd exception made, but only for the issue of injury. For figure skating there have only ever been four exceptions, the first was in 1992 when Todd Eldredge the two time US Champion and bronze from the previous year's worlds was unable to compete due to a back injury, he was selected but came a lowly 10th. In 1998 it was pairs skaters Jenni Meno and Todd Sand who benefited by an ankle injury to Meno forced them to withdraw during the nationals, they were 8th in the Olympics but unlike Eldredge recovered to take silver in the Worlds. Michelle Kwan was selected for the 2006 Games after chronic injuries had forced her to miss the entire season but in the end she had to withdraw from the Games and normality was resumed.

The only other time was the infamous 1994 when Nancy Kerrigan replaced Kwan after the incident involving her rival Tonya Harding's ex-partner and a police paton on the eve of the championships. Kerrigan alone of the replacement pics medaled.

Podium from the US Championships with Wagner on 4th step
This year there was no injury issues and the third place finisher in the Ladies was the only of the top four who had previous Olympic experience coming 4th in Vancouver four years ago. She stayed on her feet, with a substantial lead and a harder programme then the skater in fourth, who actually feel twice in the free programme. She is also coming back from a tough season last year, she is the sort of story of American grit that sponsors would love. But the sponsors have already investing in advertising in Ashley Wagner who came fourth who is signed with Nike, Pandora Jewelry and Cover Girl for her blond hair and blue eyes. The women who came third and is now only the alternate for the Games is Mirai Nagasu the daughter of Japanese immigrants who run a sushi bar in California. In 2008 she was the second youngest ever US national champion.

In another twist to the who story Wagner was born in Heidelberg, Germany while Nagasu is Californian born. Although to be be fair Wagner was born on the US Army Base in Heidelberg.

Here's the routine that everyone thought at the time earned Mirai her return to the Olympic stage.

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