Why compare Ashley to someone like Carolina?
Even 10 years ago, Carolina was skating like a future champion. She was the fastest and she had a few different triple triples. Immediately threatened for medal at the top level.
Ashley has been around and can't even make a name for herself and suddenly people think she gonna blossom into a top tier skater? Where is the foundation?
Same with shizuka. That girl has skills no one had. You know if she skate clean, she would be unstoppable.
A clean Ashley would come in about 6th or 7th. That is not future champion material.
Why should she retire? Ashley is still the no. 1 US lady. Yes, Gracie beat her in the LP at both Nationals and Worlds. But at Worlds, Gracie beat her just barely in the FS, and Ashley had a disruptive fall to boot. The judges still prefer Ashley to Gracie - yes, Ashley needs to step it up technically, but she's still a reliable competitor whom you can count on to deliver 6 triples in a performance. Not many of the top skaters are able to do that - Carolina did 5, Mao did 5, etc. Now, when I compare Ashley at Worlds to how she skated earlier in the season - at Worlds, she looked scared and slower than she was on the GP circuit. I think the falls at Nationals and the GPF, and then the pressure of getting 3 spots, made her skate more cautiously. If Ashley can get back the confidence and attack that she had throughout 2012, she'll be in fighting shape next year - and dare I say it, challenge for the podium at Olympics and Worlds.
I think Laura always hovered near the top, and often knocked on the top floor (Euro champ, 3rd at worlds), that she was always an athletic skater with interesting programs, but not thought of as innately artistic. Her speed and jumps were 1st rate- but maybe time caught up with her b4 she could fully develop her artistry.
It is up to Ashley if she wants to retire. With her sponsorships and prize moneys from the past two years she is one of the lucky few in the USA who can surely afford to keep going if she wants to, even with no help from parents, so if she wants to more power to her. If she doesn't, more power to her too! I personally hope she will keep going but it's not up to me in the slightest.
In this day and age, retiring at 21 or 22 if pretty much not heard of unless you're injury-plagued. Ashley has developed into a fine skater over the past 2 years. My only complaint with her is that she sometimes skates on auto-pilot. Almost robotic. But I think with really good choreography and the triple/triple combo....I wouldn't count her out. I think Gracie is going to be a force to be reckoned with at Nats next year. I don't think Agnes will be or Gao for that matter. It's going to be interesting with all things being equal who will take the US's third spot for the Olys.
In her defense, Ashley didn't exactly go into Nationals 100%. Salmonella can wipe you out for weeks. The hip pointer at 4CCs probably didn't get a good chance to properly heal. And yet Ashley didn't use either as an excuse. I do hope she stays in and doesn't retire.
So much can happen between now and then; but just speculating based on this year, I think Ashley has a lot left she wished to do. She has said how much she wants the Olympic experience, so I don't know if that is all she really wants, or if there are other titles and experiences she wants too. And I agree with silverlake22 that it will be interesting to see what happens with Nicks.
All that said, I think Ashley had a plan this year and it didn't quite work out; she said in some interview (sorry, I forget where) that she wanted to build on her confidence from last year and put out strong, clean programs in the fall. That is,in Fall that her goal was glean GPs and Nationals (get the most GOEs and levels, and perhaps PCs) out of her programs as possible; and put out strong SPs and LPs to build confindence; then do the 3x3 and/or 2axel3toe at 4CCs then worlds. Unfortunately, her GP final +illness happered this. It will be interesting to see if she comes out next fall with the 'upped' difficult from the get go or if she follows a path of do what I can consistently do well. The latter keeps her among the best, but risks the podium in the big events. The former could very well put her on big podiums, it also might risk injuries...hard to know what works best (and what someone's 'true' goals are especially in shfiting circumstances).
Confession: i didn't watch the ladies LP - just couldn't after the men's (will at some point though), but that aside, I've enjoyed her skating and look forward to what comes next.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_u2lg30_UM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTi2Oe13u6c) were pretty good, I thought that she was going to hit it this season but she proved my wrong, I just hope next season she improves somehow, she talked so much about the 3-3 this season but never landed it...
Of course, she doesn't give a crap what I have to say, and even if she doesn't add them I think she can hang out between 4th and 6th if she lands everything. Judges really like her now and she's come a long way artistically.
Her lack of 3x3 or 2Ax3 is why I'm worried about her. I don't quite see her in the same situation as Leonova or Nagasu, both of whom were sort of dumped this season, but if you can't produce the results, I do think it's very difficult to keep going, especially in a big skating country. I do think she can improve even more and work on her components. SHE NEEDS A NEW CHOREOGRAPHER. But, I do hope she stay to after the Olympics and see what happens. Look at what Caro has been able to achieve after everyone thought she'd retire after 2010 Olympics. I wish her the best nonetheless though.
I think Ashley has plateaued. She had that injury and an illness that affected her around Nationals, but early in the season when she was skating well she didn't attempt more difficulty like a 3-3. I don't think she will ever be able to do a combo with a 3T well because she just doesn't have much speed coming out of her jumps like Yuna or Carolina. As a fan I'm disappointed because I thought this year she would build upon her successful 2011-12 season, but she seems content to skate clean programs with less difficulty than other top skaters. However, adding her career high ISU scores for the SP and the LP would have only put her in 4th anyway so maybe she is achieving the best she can with her talent.
If she wants a shot at a World medal Ashley should definitely stick around after Sochi. If you look back in the last two quads, the most dominant ladies were the best jumpers. I don't see this changing any time soon, so she needs to grab her chance right after Sochi and before the young skaters close in and overtake her. I just don't see her getting consistent with 3/3's and 2A+3T's.
And if Wagner is beaten more than once by Gracie, no matter what happens in the rest of the world, I don't see the point she does not retire. In fact, it is a shame that she does not have 3-3 and 2A-3 in her package, and she remains to be the US champion.
Even Carolina Kostner, a far superior skater, had to test out her lutz/3x3 again and again in regional competitions to get ready for world. This girl thinks she can just pull them out at World? Really? Tim Goebel agrees it's close to impossible.
Don't be too sensitive.