Every two years, the Olympics are upon us and each time, we're treated to a slew of brand new athletes whose names stand the chance of being etching in our minds for at least the three months following the games. U.S. Olympic ice skater Ashley Wagner hopes to be one of those such folks.
Of course, those who aren't ice skating die-hards — or even Olympic die-hards — probably don't know much about the young lady who'll face the world on the ice in Sochi, Russia this February. Lucky for you, we brought a cheat sheet.
Images: Getty Images
Despite her years of winning trophies and placing first in the U.S. Skating Championships in 2012 and 2013, Wagner delivered a subpar performance at 2014’s championships, landing her in fourth place. However, based on her entire body of work, the judges still named her one of the three 2014 U.S. Olympic skaters, essentially taking the role from the third place finisher.
Angry skating fans took to Twitter to protest the decision — which is not illegal, but unorthodox — but Wagner remains a piece of the U.S. team in 2014.
...With a crown full of sponsorships
Wagner carries an unheard load of sponsors for an Olympic athlete who’s yet to win any medals. So far, she’s racked up Cover Girl, P&G, Nike, Hilton Honors, the Century Council, Highmark, Pandora, and BP. If she nabs herself another medal, endorsement deals seem likely to flood in her direction.
The Only U.S. Olympic Skating Lady Who's an LGBT Advocate
In the face of Russia’s anti-gay laws, Wagner has decided to take a stand while in Russia by wearing rainbow accessories such as earrings and nail polish. “This is the opportunity for this Olympics to be groundbreaking,” she said to reporters after a practice.
Because she’s actually an ice skating princess in a Disney cartoon, Wagner first learned to skate at the tender age of five in the icy tundra of Alaska. Though she lives in Laguna Beach, Calif. now, she certainly has the proper icy roots.
Long Time Champion
The main reason the Olympic committee still gave Wagner a spot on the team, despite her fourth place finish in 2014, is that she carries a long history of wins behind her. She’s been the U.S. Champion for the previous two years (2012, 2013) and a two-time U.S. bronze medalist (in international competitions other that the Olympics). She’s racked up a good enough record to trump the U.S. Championships, so here’s hoping it helps her nab a coveted medal.
Pink Floyd Fan... Kinda
One of her 2014 routines — skaters use that year’s routines for most competitions in a single year — is set to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd. This will either make a couple of skating fans out of Pink Floyd die-hards, or force them into a deep void of confusion over how their favorite band’s music became ice skating fodder.
And an NPH Fan, full stop.
Sure, we could tell you about the interests she lists on her website, but you can learn so much more from Twitter-stalking. Wagner, who follows the Twitter ratio rule (follow fewer people than follow you) follows a wide array of skaters and Olympic athletes as well as some interesting brands and celebrities. Among those filtering into her feed are Neil Patrick Harris and his How I Met Your Mother character Barney Stintson, two TV singing competition winners including Scotty McCreery, Lauren Conrad, Kevin Hart, and Lululemon. So we can surmise she really likes NPH, probably listens to country, loves effortless LC-style fashion, thinks Hart is funny like the rest of America, and doesn’t read feminist blogs who’ve detailed the evils of Lululemon.
Social Media Quitter
After her controversial appointment to the 2014 Olympic team, Wagner withstood so much Twitter hatred that she’s actually decided to turn off social media until the games are over. ”Twitter is a blessing and a curse at the same time … it’s tough to filter out the good things that you hear and the awful things that people will write, so I’m going cold turkey.” she told People.com.
While she is most definitely American — we don’t need any birther controversy starting in the sports world, too — Wagner was born in Heidelberg, Germany, where her father was stationed for his duties in the U.S. Military. Because of that, Wagner has lived all over the world, moving numerous times with her family. However, she calls Alexandria, Virginia her hometown.
The Mother Hen
At age 22, Wagner is actually the oldest member of the 2014 U.S. Women’s ice skating team. Yes, that is an actual, very true fact. Gracie Gold is 19 and Polina Edmunds is 16. So, step up your game, everyone else in the entire world.
And a Humble, Yet Fortunate Young Lady
While many believe Wagner doesn’t deserve her spot on the team, Wagner herself understands how lucky she is to still have a shot at Olympic gold. On the night of the U.S. Championships, she apologized to her supporters on Twitter, saying “I am so sorry. I let you all down.” When she did receive the good news, she broke down into tears. These are certainly the actions of a grateful young woman.