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Thread: Wagner's Olympic Strategy: Play It Safe?

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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Wagner's Olympic Strategy: Play It Safe?

    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)?

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    This girl should retire. No 3x3, no 2A-3T, who wants to see this kind of skater on the podium?
    Even Joannie had a 3-3 sequence and 7 triples LP with stronger basics, stronger choreography, stronger jumps.

    She would be the Hughes sisters without the hard jumps. Urgh, no. Retire!
    US should not send her if she's not improving her TES.

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    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    I think Wagner knows if she wants a shot at a medal she needs to bring it including the hard stuff. She made a great attempt at the 3F+3T (even if it was <) and just lost focus on the 2A. I suspect we will see at least the 3F+3T in her SPs this fall...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mskater93 View Post
    I think Wagner knows if she wants a shot at a medal she needs to bring it including the hard stuff. She made a great attempt at the 3F+3T (even if it was <) and just lost focus on the 2A. I suspect we will see at least the 3F+3T in her SPs this fall...
    I agree, but we also don't know what her goals are. She could be clean with easier content and finish 4th or 5th. With more difficulty, she could finish much lower, and if the top 3 skate well Ashley still won't finish higher than 4th. However, as we saw this weekend, the top skaters do fumble sometimes. I think she should go for the difficulty because there really is not much difference between 4th or 6th or 8th, but if she can earn a bronze medal that will be a huge achievement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy View Post
    She could be clean with easier content and finish 4th or 5th. With more difficulty, she could finish much lower, and if the top 3 skate well Ashley still won't finish higher than 4th. However, as we saw this weekend, the top skaters do fumble sometimes. I think she should go for the difficulty because there really is not much difference between 4th or 6th or 8th, but if she can earn a bronze medal that will be a huge achievement.
    I more or less agree with this - I feel like Wagner is right on that cusp that Nagasu was in 2010 where she skated her ABSOLUTE BEST and it still wasn't enough to get on the podium. Her performance(s) would have medaled at every other prior Games, and perhaps even would have won the OGM in Torino. I feel that if Wagner got herself a 3-3 sequence for the SP, and left the FS as is, she could try to wiggle into "Rochette" position (currently occupied by Kostner it seems).

    Then again, Vancouver may have been the exception rather than the rule and in Sochi, we may see plenty of mistakes among the top crop - which means Wagner might want to have multiple layouts in place depending on which position she's in. Basically, if she is going to need a 3-3 to catch the field, she should be able to do one with a quick snap of her fingers. If she is fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your view) enough to skate after the top contenders, if they mess up she can always go for conservative/clean and steal the show.

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    It's true that her best success ever comes without a 3/3 or 2/3 but it's not a success with a world medal. I doubt the success would lead to an Olympic medal either! Only if there are tons of mitakes maybe. But it's not viable road to success that had podiums at worlds. I don't see her not at least trying 2/3 more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.D. View Post
    Her performance(s) would have medaled at every other prior Games, and perhaps even would have won the OGM in Torino.
    Even with inflated goe and pcs she still didn't beat shizuka's score in torino. Shiz's performances would have cracked 200 in Vancouver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlattFan View Post
    This girl should retire. No 3x3, no 2A-3T, who wants to see this kind of skater on the podium?
    Even Joannie had a 3-3 sequence and 7 triples LP with stronger basics, stronger choreography, stronger jumps.

    She would be the Hughes sisters without the hard jumps. Urgh, no. Retire!
    US should not send her if she's not improving her TES.
    Wow. Okay then. But coming from you, what else is new.

    Otoh a 3-3 SEQ is something that I can see Ashley pull off.
    Advantages:
    - it would be easier to deal with the problem of insecure landing on the first jump of the combo
    - it's probably more likely to get ratified (all skaters get dinged with downgrades on the second jump of a combo)
    - I think if she's on, she has the attack needed to pull off a sequence

    Disadvantage: she doesn't like the salchow...

    I'm not sure about the 3F-3T since I've never seen her pull it off succesfully (as in fully rotated, on one foot). The 2A-3T otoh I've seen her land a ton of times at the practices in Nice. But it is a strategic decision. Ashley's SP score at WTT was alarming. She got -3 from a lot of judges for the combo. That's scary. That's also the reality of COP, so yeah. She got rid of the two-foot landings on her other jumps, but it remains to be seen if she can get rid of it on the difficult combo.

    Hearing the crowd reactions in Japan, she's got what it takes artistically, even if not everyone likes her style. She keeps growing as a performer and today, I also saw a lot of competitive fire again.

    I really don't see what's so shameful about her technical content. She has intense transitions into difficult jumps (flip, loop, (f)lutz). Olympic and world medals have been won without 3-3s before. But since everyone seems to be doing it today, a solid 2A-3T would be a good addition to her repertoire.

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    I think it is way too early to say what she should do at the Olympics. It is going to depend on her health and how successful she is with those elements leading up to Sochi. This year, the injury at the GPF and the illness before Nats definitely had an impact on her technical difficulty for the last three competitions. If she can have a healthy season next year, she may be able to up the tech and peak at the right time.

    As for predicting placements, typically the Olympics has been a world of surprises in ladies. Who called the 2002 or 2006 podiums? Who expected Mirai to place 4th in 2006? We are a whole season away, also. We don't know who is going to be injury and illness free in Sochi. We don't even know who is going to be on the team for the U.S. or Russia and even Japan could be in question. It is way, way too early to predict anything, IMO, except that, if healthy, Yuna Kim will be on the podium.

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    Quote Originally Posted by louisa05 View Post
    I think it is way too early to say what she should do at the Olympics. It is going to depend on her health and how successful she is with those elements leading up to Sochi. This year, the injury at the GPF and the illness before Nats definitely had an impact on her technical difficulty for the last three competitions. If she can have a healthy season next year, she may be able to up the tech and peak at the right time.

    As for predicting placements, typically the Olympics has been a world of surprises in ladies. Who called the 2002 or 2006 podiums? Who expected Mirai to place 4th in 2006? We are a whole season away, also. We don't know who is going to be injury and illness free in Sochi. We don't even know who is going to be on the team for the U.S. or Russia and even Japan could be in question. It is way, way too early to predict anything, IMO, except that, if healthy, Yuna Kim will be on the podium.
    One doesn't plan for the Olympics the week or month before. Her team needs to come up with a strategy now and design her training around it. Of course one should also have Plan B and C and so on. But Ashley's team should already have an a plan in mind for how she'll skate next season and at the Olympics. "Playing it safe" is a back-up plan to be used only when your competitors have made major mistakes. You won't know that until the actual competition. Otherwise, a skater should always plan to maximize her potential if her goal is to place as high as possible.

    Given this, Ashley should be practicing 3F+3T and 2A+3T and getting it as consistent as possible. She should do them at the Grand Prix and get comfortable executing them in competition. She can always play it safe later if she can afford to. She always has that "safe" option, but the "podium option" won't be available (except in special circumstance) unless she can manage to land the big combos at Sochi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Krislite View Post
    Given this, Ashley should be practicing 3F+3T and 2A+3T and getting it as consistent as possible. She should do them at the Grand Prix and get comfortable executing them in competition. She can always play it safe later if she can afford to. She always has that "safe" option, but the "podium option" won't be available (except in special circumstance) unless she can manage to land the big combos at Sochi.
    I think this is a great strategy. Ashley has already won GP events so she can try the difficulty and if she fails it really won't matter too much to her legacy. At Nationals, she probably should keep her options open, because I think only a clean Gracie can beat a clean Ashley (skating safe). I'm sure she really wants a third title and going into Sochi as the national champion will be helpful when all the politiking and deal-making happens between the federations. In Sochi she will really have to lay it down (3-3 in the short and 2a-3 in the long) to have any shot at the podium.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Krislite View Post
    One doesn't plan for the Olympics the week or month before. Her team needs to come up with a strategy now and design her training around it. Of course one should also have Plan B and C and so on. But Ashley's team should already have an a plan in mind for how she'll skate next season and at the Olympics. "Playing it safe" is a back-up plan to be used only when your competitors have made major mistakes. You won't know that until the actual competition. Otherwise, a skater should always plan to maximize her potential if her goal is to place as high as possible.

    Given this, Ashley should be practicing 3F+3T and 2A+3T and getting it as consistent as possible. She should do them at the Grand Prix and get comfortable executing them in competition. She can always play it safe later if she can afford to. She always has that "safe" option, but the "podium option" won't be available (except in special circumstance) unless she can manage to land the big combos at Sochi.
    Another badly timed injury could happen to Ashley in December for all we know. Some top competitor or another could blow a knee or hurt a hip or rupture an achilles and not be in the field at Sochi at all. Someone could withdraw for some random personal reason. Some upstart junior at home could be another Gracie Gold and steal Ashley's spot on the team. Ashley could skate last after every top contender had a meltdown and be in a position to take home a medal with just a clean skate.

    I didn't say a word about training. And I did say that it is likely that she will work for a higher base tech score next season--which most people would interpret as training those elements. But that doesn't mean we can predict the future and say exactly what she should or should not do at one competition that is 300 days away with an entire skating season in between.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlattFan View Post
    This girl should retire. No 3x3, no 2A-3T, who wants to see this kind of skater on the podium? Even Joannie had a 3-3 sequence and 7 triples LP with stronger basics, stronger choreography, stronger jumps.
    Wait. Are you saying every skater should stop skating if she's not as good as Joannie Rochette was in 2010? That would leave a small field.

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    If Ashley really wants to be a contender she can't keep playing it safe. She barely beat Gracie in the LP at WTT even with a clean program and would have lost if Gracie didn't double her last triple jump. If Gracie improves her PCS next season Ashley has no cushion against her anymore and that doesn't even include the rest of the top Ladies like Kim, Kostner, Mao and Suzuki.

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    I definitely don't thing Ashley should play it safe. If she can't find consistency with the 3/3 then she may not have a choice but to play it safe.

    She needs to go to some of those summer competitions and perform either her Sp or Lp to see if she can land the 3/3.

    This is the big year coming up. Everyone will put out their best performances. I really think coming up with an original jump combination would score her some technical points. I'm thinking some kind of combination jump with the loop jump. She really needs to think strategy with her team.

    She and Gold should hang in there as the USA top two. They are both learning to compete. Poor Nagasu can't even land a jump without it being called UR, and poor Czisny we don't know if she will ever get back to where she was.

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