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Ashley Wagner ‘furious’ after fourth place in free skate

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 05: Ashley Wagner competes in the Ladies Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 5, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Ashley Wagner called out judges at the U.S. figure skating championships Friday night for her scores in the free skate, which put in jeopardy her chances of returning to the Olympics.

Wagner scored a 130.85 in her strongest event for 196.19, with Karen Chen beating her out for third with a 198.59.

“I’m furious, I am absolutely furious,” Wagner said. “I know when I go and I lay it down and I absolutely left one jump on the table, but for me to put out two programs that I did at this competition as solid as I skated and to get those scores, I am furious, and I think deservedly so. I am a performer and that second mark is just not there. I am absolutely OK with them being strict on my rotations. That’s what I think that U.S. Figure Skating should demand of their judges but it needs to be across the board. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s been that way at this event, so we’ll see how things pan out.”

The 26-year-old three-time national champion and Sochi team bronze medalist missed the podium, placing fourth. She seemed unconcerned that her public criticism after she finished could affect how the selection committee decides on the three women chosen for the Pyeongchang Games. The committee was set to begin deliberating late Friday night, then notify the three women, with an announcement set for early Saturday.

“I honestly think that at the end of the day, this is how I feel, and I feel like I need to stick up for myself, and I think that I delivered when I really needed to,” Wagner said. “I think all these girls delivered when they needed to, but I want to be on that Olympic team and I’m really mad that I’m in this position again.”

Asked whether she believes she should be selected to the Olympic team, Wagner emphatically said, “Yes, I do.”

Four years ago, Wagner needed a waiver to make the Sochi Games. She placed seventh and contributed to a bronze medal in the new team event.

Wagner hit all of her early jumps but made a couple of mistakes in the second half of her “La La Land” routine she said was absolutely the right choice despite skating it for only a month.

When she finished, Wagner lifted her hands to cover her face in joy and relief, then beamed and took her bow. She shook her head as the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

“Even though I’m mad about my score, that program was such an experience for me,” Wagner said. “I skated with heart. I took a program that’s a month old and I delivered something that was solid and something I’m proud of. It definitely could use a little bit more leg work but that’s because it’s a month old, and I made the right call and I have no doubts in my mind that ‘La La Land’ was the program that was going to get me where I want to be.”

When asked whether the top three finishers at nationals should automatically make the Olympic team, newly crowned champion Bradie Tennell stayed out of any potential controversy.

“I trust the governing body to make those decisions,” she said.