In an unprecedented snub, US Figure Skating has left the third place finisher at Saturday's US Figure Skating Championships off its Olympic roster—in favor of a fourth-place finisher who described her own performance as "embarrassing." Why? Because that fourth-place finisher was Ashley Wagner, winner of the 2012 and 2013 national championships, and, coincidentally enough, one of the athletes NBC has been most heavily promoting ahead of the Sochi games, the New York Times reports. Indeed, Philip Hersh at the LA Times writes that there "was little doubt" she'd get the nod yesterday, despite a "dismal" free skate.
Wagner fell twice in that free skate, and neither her short nor long programs contained a triple-triple combination, the minimum required to medal in Sochi. She was selected over Mirai Nagasu, the only skater with what Hersh calls an "essentially clean" free skate, and the only one with Olympic experience. Until now, the US has always taken its top championship finishers, except in cases of injury. But committee rules actually allow it to consider a skater's body of work, and Nagasu finished seventh at the past two championships. Wagner will join first-place finisher Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds on the US team; the Times sees Gold as a bronze contender in Sochi. Hersh notes no one named "Gold" has ever won an Olympic medal. (Read more figure skating stories.)