I also likes that Ashley speaks her mind. Over the weekend there was a lot of fuss in the U.S. about a pre-teen golf prodigy named Lucy Li. Of course she's amazing, but when the regular news program did a feature on her, they talked of how "delightfully different" she was from the other contenders. Their idea of her difference? She was shown at a press conference saying, "I just wanted to go out there and have fun." I confess that I cringed a bit. That's the word-for-word mantra of every well-behaved girl skater, to show that she isn't too aggressive. Golf reporters just aren't used to it because there are very few child golfers who show up. It's not generally a sport that benefits from a tiny, pre-pubescent body. Li just happens to have a powerful swing, and you can bet she doesn't play around when she practices.
Whereas Ashley is very upfront about wanting to win. I don't love her particular brand of "motivation-speak," but I admire the determination behind it.
I did not cringe over what I saw of her. Quite the opposite in fact.
Although I think she takes golf seriously, my impression was that she does not take herself overly seriously. In the presser that I saw, she did make a comment (I'm paraphrasing) about not being thrilled with high scores. (Of course, it would have been silly for her to say that she wanted to win this year's US Open. If she did not want to have fun out on the course, that would make me cringe.)
And I did find it quite "delightful" that she does not make any pretense of being any age other than eleven years old. During the presser, she was happily consuming an ice cream bar as she answered questions. She wears girlish braids and youthful outfits. I am pleased that she is not trying to present herself as a mini-adult.
(At the same time, I have no problem with Wagner speaking her mind and saying that she wants to win. Apples and oranges, IMO. I hope that Wagner wants both to win and to have fun on the ice.)
I like Ashley. I had noticed her before, but started to follow skating more the year when she presented her Black Swan program. I loved it. I think last season was a disapointment, mainly because she couldn't make her Romeo and Juliet program work the same way as Black Swan and Samson and Delilah programs from previous seasons. She also became more outspoken, which rubbed people the wrong way. I have to admit that I was also annoyed by some of her comments, but I still like her skating and presentation. Technically there are some things that she needs to work on, but I think she has some fire left in her. When it comes to her looks, I find her very pretty. She is pretty in a different way than Gracie Gold, but I find both of these girls absolutely beautiful.
Wow, I'm late to this party. I love Ashley. She's one of my favorites right now. Her skating is certainly not as fluid as some, but her musicality and expression is spot on. Though she's had a few rough skates, she does seem to be fit and well trained. Her music choices are powerful and she is always in a beautiful and appropriate costume. What I particularly admire is her raw determination. At 18, she took control of her own life and training situation and worked hard to make it all work out. And became a 2 time National champion and 2 time Grand Prix final medalist along the way.
What I do wish for her to do this year is to find some way to get rid of the two foots. Her jumps seem powerful enough and she's getting plenty of lift, some I'm not sure what's causing it. And I think her spins have nice positions, but the speed could be improved a bit.
I think counting her out as a possible winner at Nationals this year would be foolish. Any of the top 3 or a well trained Mirai could easily win on any given night, but I'll root for Ashley.
"I just want to have fun" is the "I just want to do my best."
If you're training 25-30 hours a week, spending thousands of dollars on coaches, choreography, skates, costumes, moving your family around, you don't want to do your best. You want to win. I always roll my eyes when skaters do that. let's be real, everyone wants to win at this level, and skaters (especially women) who are honest about it are seen as obnoxious.
I think this is part of the reason Tara Lipinski got so much hate. She was there to win, no two ways about it.
I don't know. When an athlete says. "I just want to do my best," etc., to me that is just her or his way of flipping off the reporter for asking a stupid question.
"How did it make you feel when you fell on that triple Lutz?" "I just want to skate and have fun."
Ashley was in a unique situation in that she was the only U.S. skater (besides Davis and White) who had any kind of international presence in the two years leading up to the Sochi Olympics. If the USFSA had already determined that past international results would play a role in the selection, Ashley was the only singles skater that could have been affected.
They could not have left Jeremy Abbott off the team in any case. He was the U.S. champion. Mirai would have gone if she had finished first, or even second, at nationals. The interesting thing is that when it came to the team for worlds, they put Max Aaron ahead of Jason Brown. Based on international results there was no particular reason for doing this (each had won a bronze medal in a Grand Prix event). My guess is that they based the decision on the perception that both of these skaters have potential for the future that ought to be cultivated. They could have done the same for Mirai, sending her to worlds instead of Polina. Evidently they don't regard Mirai as belonging to the "promising up-and-comers" group any more.
With Max, I think you're right that there was a belief that they still had hope for his future. I also think last year played in since that was a very defined part of the selection criterion- he was top 10 (7th?) at Worlds, he was National champion. There also seemed like almost an element of we're sorry that you were basically a lock for the Olympic team in October and now we're not sending you so we'll give you Worlds. Lastly, I think they never believed Jeremy would go to Worlds and they wanted to ensure Max kept training at full throttle.
On paper, the most illogical pick was the pairs selection. Denney & Coughlin, yes had better results than Z&B, but neither had a shot in hell of a medal and they definitely didn't have the Ashley resume. Even attaining 3 spots in conjunction with C&S would have basically taken serious almost miraculous alignments of stars.They had no results from the previous season like Max that were supposedly the key to deviating from Nationals results. And Cpughlin's an older skater, trending downward based on Nationals (yes I know the "won" the FS but please) and they were therefore unlikely to be around as long as Z/B. I think they got a similar "we're sorry that you were locks and we can't send you even though we wanted to" consolation prize because they were former USFS darlings with a decently powerful coach.