I don't think Wagner needs another event prior to worlds. She needs all the time she can buy at this point...
The point is this: With increased competition at Worlds this year, she cannot afford to skate like that there and have any hope of fulfilling the wish of 3 US spots. In fact, even if she laid down her TEB skate there, with the lack of difficulty, who's to say it would be enough for even 4th place? Even Kostner (one of the judges' faves) does 3-3 in the SP. Anyway, there is that possibility that Wagner just does not have a 3-3 ready or consistent enough to put in, and that will limit her score-wise. Probably shooting for 4th at best, 5th-6th realistically, etc.Ashley is not Alissa or Rachael. Other than the challenges she faces of late, she is probably the most fit I've ever seen her in the last few years. It is because of that muscle memory/good training that she was able to tough it out through Nationals. People seem to forget that she did a clean short program (unlike Alissa last year) and that while the long program was far from her best, it was hardly a meltdown.
^ True, at least Gracie Gold has the difficulty necessary to compete with the world's best...but does she have the consistency? (Nope, so far) The street cred? (Remains to be seen)
Remember mustafina's coach made her put in the amanar vault even in lesser competitions to make sure she had enough mileage out of it? I admire her for that. Wagner could have gone for 3x3 in easier competitions the entire season, and she didn't even bother to do 2A-3T. And people were ready to crown her then. Anyway, I don't see her placing 4th. I see maybe 7th or 8th with the way things are going. Maybe even worse.
I think what we have here is a training plan veering away from the ideal. Up until GPF, Ashley had been training well, with the strategy of solid clean programs that earn +GOE. The putting in difficult content for mileage technique doesn't work for ever body. In fact, if you look at Ashley's history, putting in difficult content when it was not ready (i.e. not mastered) actually resulted in her rushing through everything else and two footing the second jump.
As Moonlightskater, a poster who was at Skate America noted way earlier, Ashley was practicing 3-3s and 2A-3Ts and reeling out a few nice ones. So it's not a matter of not being able to do it -- it's a matter of mastering it. Big difference.
Then came the hip pointer in the FS (the 3S fall, in my view was rushed timing, not a reflection of some bigger problem) from that freak fall. And the food poisoning. Again, I know I keep harping on this, but when my husband had food poisoning it was not good. He was totally out of it for days. Think about it from an athlete's stance....when you're holed up trying to get better, those are days off your routine and you basically have to force your body to ramp up again. (I guess I'm coming from the standpoint that I tried running 2 miles after two weeks away and let me tell you, it was not pretty).
But luckily for Ashley she was well trained enough to do the SP well and get through the FS. So I think if you give her six weeks, she will be fine, honestly.
But I guess we will see come Worlds.
Coming into Nationals, I'd definitely agree with you that Ashley's training was simply suffering because of health issues and also, probably, general fatigue from all the traveling this season.
But, coming out of Nationals, my concern is Ashley's confidence may go downhill, following the two consecutive 2-fall long programs, not to mention the emergence of Gracie Gold as the hot new thing. Confidence has been the biggest factor for Ashley the last few years. When she's confident and feeling good, she's awesome. When she's doubting herself and feeling down, she suddenly drops from being a near-great to a fairly average skater. Her success has been based on her confidence and consistency. So, yeah, I'm kind of worried at this point. I know she can regroup in time for Worlds physically, but I'm not so sure about the mental aspect.
Ashley will peak at world's and earn a medal probably considering the weak field. he has the experience and ability; she can hold off the russians and KORPI.