No one could blame American figure skater Ashley Wagner for wanting to prove her detractors wrong in Sochi.
And Wagner is holding her own at the Winter Olympics. She finished sixth in the women's short program on Wednesday. And she earned fourth place for her team short program on February 8, helping Team USA win the bronze medal in the inaugural Olympic Figure Skating Team Event on Sunday.
Wagner was a controversial pick for the US Olympic team.
The 22-year-old finished in fourth place at the US figure skating nationals competition in Boston in January. It was a disappointing experience for Wagner, who had taken first place the prior two years. She fell twice, and has admitted since that nervousness made her legs feel like "lead" in Boston.
Many thought Mirai Nagasu, who finished third in Boston, should have been the Olympic team pick.
— Judah Friedlander (@JudahWorldChamp) January 13, 2014
— Erin Matson (@erintothemax) January 14, 2014
But Wagner's strong performance in the international arena earned her the spot instead. She has performed especially well at Grand Prix events and was in fact the 2012 and 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard champion.
— U.S. Figure Skating (@USFigureSkating) February 8, 2014
“It is tough to hear people try and take away my accomplishments,” Wagner said. “Those two nights at nationals didn’t reflect me overall as a skater, and I am glad that [U.S. Figure Skating] recognized that.”
— 12News (@12News) February 10, 2014
Has her performance in Sochi been redemptive?
"To the people who doubted I belonged on this team, yes," she said after her fourth place finish in the team short skate. "But really it was more about proving to myself that I could get beyond that competition and that I wasn't a nervous wreck and that I was that strong, hard-headed competitor that I know that I am and that my mother has been dealing with for 22 years, so that was good for me."
Ecstatic about that short program tonight! I. Belong. Here. Great job team! #Sochi2014
— Ashley Wagner (@AshWagner2010) February 8, 2014
She's being called a wild card, but depending on how she performs in the free skate on Thursday, Wagner still has a chance to end up on the podium.
Image via Wikimedia Commons