Who deserves it? The best three overall leading up to the Olympics including the GPs and Nationals. So far that would be Ashley/Gracie no brainer there and for the moment Samantha Cesario.
In my heart of hearts I wanted Mirai to go. But she just doesn't look in top form this season. In fact she looks the worse that I've ever seen her. I hope she stays in after Sochi and has a great comeback ala Kostner/Wagner
I was disgusted when the judges at Nationals gave Agnes a 65+ with a fall in the SP. Mirai deserved an even higher score by that standard and should have been in 2nd going into the LP. How demoralizing is it to know going in that no matter how great you skate the flavor of the moment is going to be held up no matter what. I felt the same about Gracie. Imo she shouldn't have even been in the top 10 after the SP, although she did deserve to win the LP.
For all of you answering, "the top 3 at Nationals," I essentially agree, but I think our original poster, skateluvr, was raising a really good point/question about the fairness of the judging at Nationals- in other words, she was suggesting that the judges at nationals may favor Agnes or Gao over Sam or Mirai even if the latter skated clean. Her question was trying to push towards exploring that possibility, I think, and also towards assessing overall most deserving candidates regardless of judging.
I don't think Cesario will get the third spot. There will be a lot of competition for that third spot. Agnes and Christina have more of a track record at Nationals as, of course, do Mirai and Alyssa. I personally do not think Alyssa will come back. Mirai could surprise (or maybe it's just wishful thinking). I think Agnes is the best bet right now.
It is kind of frustrating that we don't have a really strong 3rd prospect to send to the Olympics. Especially with actually having the three spots available this year!
That said, maybe things will turn around for some of our ladies.
I'd hate to see unreliable Agnes get to go over Sam. She's so much better.
Ashley is the only one who is skating like she wants to go to Sochi. Gracie has been mediocre at best, Agnes and Mirai tanked their first outing, Christina started strongly but fell to pieces at TEB...Samantha is the only skater other than Ashley who put forth two strong performances at both of her events and she's a newbie...
Ashley and Samantha aside, the US ladies vying for these spots have been a giant disappointment so far this season. The US has a bunch of 4+ year veterans who are skating like it's their first time on the GP. Meanwhile the Russians have a bunch of first, second and third year seniors who are skating and competing like the seasoned vets are supposed to. It's a little embarrassing to be honest. What happen to this crop of US skaters? Why are there so few real competitors among them? Ashley seems to be the only skater who actually wants to win anything...it's like everyone else says they want to win yet they skate like they're afraid to. I think they want the medals and notoriety that comes with winning but they are terrified of the pressure and expectation winning brings.
I truly hope Polina, Angela, Karen and the other junior girls have more drive, competitiveness and focus than this current crop...
Ashley and Gracie are locks, IMO, both with an outside chance of a medal. I'd like to see Gao making it as well - she's nice to watch, quite consistent, and has the best look on the ice out of all of the other contenders - Agnes, Sam, and whoever else is in the run.
I am rooting for Samantha Cesario. She has been so unlucky with injuries the last few years, and she shouldn't be a 'newbie'. She skates with flair, and has ambitious content. I was Team Gao, but she has done nothing this season to justify it if Samantha outskates her. My list: (and this does not include the up and comers this year whom I have never seen....)
2. Gold (like someone said, these two earned the spots, they deserve to go)
There is no way Wagner and Gold arent going. Yes Gold isnt skating great now, but it doesnt matter. She will be PCSed onto the team if need be. Unless she lands only 2 triples and atleast 2 out of Nagasu, Gao, Zawadzki, etc...skate lights out and perfect 7 triple LPs and clean short programs she is being placed top 3 and on the team.
At this point Cesario, Gao (despite her one off LP), Zawadzki, and Hicks are the main contenders IMO. I dont see Nagasu making it, and I dont see them taking a chance on Wang or another younger skater.
Zawadski really impressed me (and Mirai surprised me) with her SP today. She's certainly fighting for that 3rd spot. A medal at CoR, particularly over Mirai would really help her cause.