Most of you who've read my posts will remember that I've been rather hard on Wagner for staying within her comfort zone and not pushing herself to be the best that she could possibly be. She is a natural athletic type and I've felt that she should stick to that style and not try to be something she's not.
But...the numbers don't lie.
Wagner has had her highest scores in both the SP AND FS when she lays conservative, CLEAN skates. Without a 3-3 or even a 2A/3T she was able to score 128 points in the FS at WTT. Whenever she goes for the 3-3 she seems to either 2-foot the second jump or get called on it. The one time she went for it at WTT, it was the only time she scored under 60 pts this season (yes, I know she made another mistake). So...it comes down to whether she is capable of performing the 3-3 consistently IN COMPETITION and not getting called on it. I'm not sure if she is at that stage yet.
So the question is this. If you're Wagner, how do you move forward? If she stays the course, she risks being overtaken by Gracie Gold but should still be comfortably in the top 3 at Nationals next year. But internationally, when CLEAN she is holding her own with the best. There are pros and cons to both approaches. By playing it safe, assuming she can deliver, she knows she is capable of 190+ points which is medal contention. Problem is, the Japanese girls and Kim have harder content and Wagner will have to rely on mistakes from them to get on the podium. Past Olympic history says that is likely, but if it's anything like Vancouver you cannot count on it happening. By going for it, if she is not comfortable or consistent on the jump (which she seems to be now), she risks getting called and ends up losing more points than she would have gained. (You see what happens to Asada for instance - when she hits, she is up there- but when she doesn't, she gets hammered!) And of course, there is the increased risk of injury too.
I can't believe I'm asking this, but- is Wagner better off playing it safe next season and focusing on doing what she can do well to the BEST of her ability (milking every point she can, ala Laura Lepisto)? Or should she just practice that 3-3 like mad over the off-season, increasing risk of injury and failure, but truly reap the rewards if she pulls it off (which could be silver or even OGM - don't laugh)?