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.