I cannot believe that the outright reason from Mr. Nicks that he prefers not to make the looooong trip to Sochi again seems insufficient to some.
No reading between the lines necessary.
The GPF in Sochi was a test event for the Olympic skating competition as a whole.
In the case of Mr. Nicks, it also gave him a chance to experience exactly how demanding the travel would be. The total flight time plus 9-hour layover would be draining for anyone of any age -- whether in first, business or economy class.
If one of my relatives in their 80s decided to avoid repeating a marathon trip like that, I would totally understand.
It's not as if Mr. Nicks would be going on vacation, and upon arrival, he could relax and take his time recharging his batteries, so to speak.
Quite the contrary. Just like Wagner, he would have to be at the top of his game at the Olympics. They both would want to hit the ground running.
And if travel realistically has become a bit of a physical challenge for Mr. Nicks, I think that recusing himself well in advance is definitely the responsible thing to do.
Throughout Wagner's first (and only?) Olympics, she will have to keep her mental focus on the task at hand. Wondering out of natural concern whether someone so important to her on both professional and personal levels is overly fatigued, not feeling 100%, etc., could be a negative distraction. I am not saying that Mr. Nicks would ever intentionally say or do anything to make Wagner fret about him. But neither one of them is a robot. If he did not quite seem to be himself, chances are that her own radar would pick it up.