Wagner, who finished fourth at the U.S. nationals but was
controversially handed the final Olympic berth ahead of third-place
finisher Mirai Nagasu, said it was "insane" to make such a change so
close to the February 7-23 Games but that it was a risk she had to
"After I found out that I was on the team, I sat (coach Rafael Arutunian) down and pleaded with him to let me change my long
program," Wagner told reporters on a conference call. "I wasn't able
to connect very well with it and I think because I was so
uncomfortable with it, it made it difficult to compete.
"So going into the Olympics I want to feel as comfortable and as
confident as I possibly can."
As a result, Wagner is ditching her "Romeo and Juliet" long program
in favor of last season's "Samson and Delilah."
Sochi represents an unexpected second chance for Wagner, 22, who had
looked ready to watch the Olympics from at home.
But while the U.S. squad is selected based largely on the results of
the national championships, a nine-member selection panel has the
final say on the makeup of the team and the power to consider past
results and other factors in making a decision.
In the end, the panel believed Wagner, a two-time U.S. national
champion, offered a better chance of landing on the Sochi podium.
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"Already in training I feel like I am skating with so much
more conviction with this program and I really believe in this
program that I think that it will easily be forgotten that I
have not been skating this the whole year," said Wagner, who
parlayed her "Samson and Delilah" skate into a fifth-place
finish at last year's world championships. "Nationals was me
skating scared. It was me letting that moment overwhelm me.
"I thought more about what I could lose than what I could gain,
what I was working for. ... It was the wrong mindset going into
such a huge competition."
Wagner said she was stung by the backlash she received for being
selected ahead of Nagasu, who finished fourth at the 2010
While disappointed by U.S. figure skating's decision, Nagasu was
not bitter and even offered support to Wagner.
"Through this she has been really phenomenal and they way she
has handled this, I have really admired her for that," said
Wagner. "She texted me after I was placed on the team and said,
'You belong on the team. Good luck, love you'".
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto;
editing by Frank Pingue)
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