After winning Skate Canada, American Ashley Wagner was full of confidence going into the NHK Trophy only to be humbled by her own mistakes. Though Wagner still qualified for the Grand Prix Final, she has taken time to reflect on what went wrong at NHK and how to move forward so that she can be successful at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, Spain set to take place on Dec. 10-13, 2015.
Ashley Wagner estimated that she needed to make it on the podium at NHK and she knew that she might be able to afford a fourth place finish to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. “I think that is where I went wrong,” Wagner said in a USFS media call on Dec. 1. “I should have just put my head down, started fresh and gone into that long program not focusing on, OK, well, I can get as low as this and I’ll make it to the Final. I think that didn’t really get me into the fighting spirit that I’m so used to competing with,” she continued. “It was a rookie mistake and on top of that it just wasn’t my day. I’m just very excited to get to Barcelona and start fresh and show people that that was just a bad event for me and that’s all it is.”
This will be Wagner’s fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final and she has successfully medaled at each event, winning either the silver or the bronze, but has yet to capture gold. “I think that the Grand Prix Final is going to be a wide open event, it could be anyone’s game and that is encouraging knowing that you’re not necessarily going up against a favorite,” Ashley said. “It feels like an even playing field, which definitely makes me feel like I could go for the gold and grab that title which would be amazing. At NHK I was so focused on getting another title and showing everybody that I could compete well and when I focus on the results instead of how I got those results, things didn’t go well for me. So going into the Final, I’m really just focusing on finding a way to let myself just skate and get into that mindset that I had at Skate Canada.”
Wagner confessed that this will be a “stiff competition” as she is up against legendary Mao Asada who comes equipped with a triple axel and three world titles, Gracie Gold, Russian Evgenia Medvedeva, Japan’s rising star Satoko Miyahara and Russian Elena Radionova. Though she acknowledges that they are all very talented she spoke of Mao Asada as her toughest competitor. “When she’s on, [Asada] has the whole package,” Wagner said. “She knows how to put on a performance. The audience loves her. Technically, she’s very strong. I think that If I had to pinpoint someone, Mao Asada on one of her good days, is definitely going to be one of the top girls.”
If there is one thing that Ashley is known for, it is her ability to come from behind and fight her way back to the top. Some of her best performances have come after disappointing moments. “I like it when I have something not go so well,” Wagner said. “When things are too perfect for too long, in a way it kind of freaks me out a little bit…NHK was definitely not a lack of preparation, but it definitely woke me up a little bit.”