Ashley Wagner finds strength under pressure, consistency (article)

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sylvia, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to Nationals!

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  2. lulu

    lulu New Member

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    Well it's certainly working for her. :)
     
  3. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

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    It's nice and all, but I still don't want to get excited yet. For FOUR STRAIGHT YEARS we US fans have had some reason or another to hope and every single time those hopes have been dashed. Ugh, I give up...
     
  4. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    While it's true that the last time we had a US lady who was National Champion, Four Continents Champion, Skate America Champion, TEB Champion, 4th in the world, and heading to the GPF everything went downhill steeply (Meissner in 2007, though she was 2nd at TEB), I don't see that happening to Wagner as long as she remains injury-free. And honestly, Wagner is skating a lot better than Kimmie did even at her best. Maybe it's unwise, but I am fully on the Wagner train.
     
  5. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    U.S. fans were just totally, and I do mean totally spoiled during the Kwan, Lipinski, Cohen era in U.S. ladies figure skating! But don't give up, just yet. Ashley Wagner sure didn't give in or give up. ;)


    Me too. :)

    Anyway, what's the point in getting off the train if you've 'bought the ticket to ride?' IOW, I'm staying with the skaters I love through thick and thin. Even whether or not there's possible danger of a train wreck ahead, I'm going to trust in the conductor and the professionals working the signal switches that they are prepared to do their job to avert a disaster. I'm going to stay in my seat and cheer, and toot, toot right along with the train whistle, and pray for good things to happen for the skaters I believe in. And, like that unforgettable scene in Spielberg's E.T. when the kids on their bikes escaped danger as the bikes became airborne, maybe magic will happen on this train ride too.

    I rooted for Ashley from the beginning, and I'm not getting off Ashley's train no matter what happens. I believe her train is going to make it to the station just fine, and the important thing anyway is to enjoy the journey while it lasts. Reaching the destination is simply icing on the cake.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  6. nekkidgator

    nekkidgator New Member

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  7. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    Absolutely. Kwan's consistency in jumping and in results over such a long period of time is incredible. Lipinski was great too, but her span wasn't nearly as long. Cohen was rarely clean but even when she made mistakes she would almost always place well.

    After them, we have skaters who land jumps but don't place well (Flatt, Zhang), or skaters who can score well but just doesn't skate well (Czisny, Nagasu), or skaters who just do not agree with puberty (Meissner). I am so glad that Wagner is putting everything together. She always had it but just needed tweaking. Now she is tweaked and ready.

    Unfortunately, and I am saying this because I love her, I don't think she has that Champion quality about her yet. And I don't think Nicks is necessarily the right coach for her to further upgrade her skating skills. He is doing great with her and achieving results yes, but on the bigger stage she will always have to count on mistakes by better skaters (Kostner, Asada, Kim, etc). That's the Lysacek syndrome. She will easily win GPs and medal at GPFs and Worlds, but when it comes to winning Worlds and Olympics, she is just very Lysacek.
     
  8. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Obviously, your opinions are valid from your perspective, Marco. However, in your second paragraph, I believe you are making some oversimplifications. It's not true that Czisny and Nagasu "just don't skate well." They both have skated beautifully and placed well on numerous occasions. They have also confronted challenges that have been difficult for them to overcome. Kimmie Meissner won the World Championships in 2006 because she was the only skater that year who appeared to have the gumption to go after the gold and to persevere under pressure. Also, it was largely injuries that thwarted the continuation of Kimmie's eligible career, not puberty.

    Also Flatt has done well nationally, and also internationally as a junior. As a senior, Flatt did not medal at Worlds or Olympics, but she does have four silver medals on the senior GP circuit. Caroline Zhang won 4 bronze medals and one silver on the senior GP, and she won a gold at a senior B international event. As a junior, Zhang "cleaned-up" internationally, winning Junior Worlds and capturing gold at three JGP events. Such accomplishments are certainly worthy, even if winning everything all the time, every time is considered the bee's knees (the best scenario) from most fans' perspectives.

    Ashley Wagner is certainly a Champion, whether or not you see championship quality in her yet. Hmmm, "very Lysacek." Well, since Evan Lysacek is the reigning Olympic gold medalist, I guess that means you voted for Ashley Wagner as most likely to win Olympic gold in that recent Trash Can poll. ;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  9. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    Yes, these girls have showed glimpses of hope one way or another, but no sustained success so far, or at all, on the senior international scene. Czisny is the only lady between Meissner and Wagner to have won any one of GPF, Worlds and 4CCs. IIRC she is also the only one to have won a GP between Meissner and Wagner. So yes, Kwan is the legend and we have all been spoiled so much.

    I think Wagner can definitely medal at Worlds and Olympics, but if she wins either we are forever going to hear a lot of moaning about Wagner winning despite not being the best skater and winning only because she was hard working and others fecked up, like when Lysacek won.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  10. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ I think it's kind of odd to compare Lysacek's talents as a skater with Ashley Wagner's. Maybe the quality they do have in common is their fierce competitive desire and determination. However, as far as their levels of talent and skating styles, I don't get the comparison.


    And re nekkidgator's post:
    Thanks for pointing out the long legacy of excellence in U.S. ladies figure skating. :) I was making the point that Michelle Kwan dominated for over ten years, which had previously been out of the ordinary (post Maribel Vinson Owen's victories) and especially before the changes which allowed skaters to make money while continuing to compete in the eligible ranks. So, long story short, followers of skating during Michelle's era have definitely been spoiled. Therefore, the so-called "drought" for some fans is apparently very painful in contrast.

    In general, transitional cycles and ups and downs in skaters' careers are the norm, not the exception. Even despite the fact that U.S. ladies have tended to always be in the medals, I think we have to look at the changes that occurred during the course of the Michelle Kwan era, including the rise of the Internet, changes in the way fans view skating, changes in the scoring system, and the boom in skating and depth of talent in countries other than the U.S., especially and most particularly in Japan.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  11. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    Really? I find their qualities very comparable. They both have above average to very good skating qualities all around but do not really excel at any specific area, and they both have very good elements but with slight technical flaws that sometimes hamper them (Lysacek the axel and Wagner the flutz). Technically they are solid but have not yet consistently nailed the iconic element (Lysacek the quad and Wagner the 3/3). Presentation wise Wagner is much less frantic these days which is good but they both skate to tick the boxes more than from within and have yet to really demonstrate a deeper level of interpretation of mood or tempo. I love that they both have clean lines and polished skating.
     
  12. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

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    ^ Wagner may get there in due time, but as of right now I can agree that she is trying a bit too hard to "switch styles". Trying too much to be a Kwan. She's perfectly fine as an athletic skater. Being athletic didn't stop skaters like Slutskaya from winning...

    Still, I REALLY hope she ends this world medal drought for the US! And hopefully she can handle increased expectations and being in the spotlight. She's gonna have to, anyway...Can only fly under the radar for so long.
     
  13. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    With a nod of respect re your viewpoints, RD, I don't think Ashley is at all "trying to switch styles." She's trying to carve out her own identity on the ice, and she sees Michelle Kwan as a role model to emulate, not to try and be exactly like. There's a thread in Trash Can which discusses Ashley in comparison to Michelle (I have to smile at all the threads popping up about Ashley, but I'm not complaining ;)). In that Trash Can thread someone excerpts a quote from Ashley in which she talks about wanting to "reach the level" that Michelle attained on the ice in "skating not only to win, but to perform" for the audience. That's an exemplary goal for Ashley to set her sights on. But IMO, it does not mean that Ashley is "trying a bit too hard to 'switch styles'." She's simply exploring and perfecting her own strengths.

    Ashley also has a vision of wanting to attain the "performance level" that Michelle achieved, but she's not trying to do it in exactly the same way that Michelle did it, because she's not Michelle. I'm enjoying watching Ashley's growth as a skater. I like what she brings to the ice that's uniquely hers to bring. :)


    With respect to your opinion too, Marco, beyond their equal hard work and determination, I don't see any similarity whatsoever in the skating styles of Evan and Ashley. I think it is kind of odd to compare the style of a male skater with that of a female skater. As far as what you specified in your post, I think both Ashley and Evan clearly excel in their skating by virtue of desire and hard work, and excellent coaching. And yes, neither are perfect in all areas of their skating -- and that can be said about any skater.

    Ashley is trying to carve out her own unique identity on the ice. In Evan's case, I don't think he has yet managed to develop a compelling and unique artistic on-ice identity. However, I have found his great energy and enthusiasm very infectious, and he has many fans who love him and his skating. Figure skating is and will always be subjective and debatable.

    And again, if you are trying to put down Ashley by characterizing her as "very Lysacek," she'd probably take that as a compliment, and continue on with the business of achieving one of her biggest goals, one that Lysacek of course has (with a dollop of luck, countless hours of training and pounds of sweat) already achieved. ;)
     
  14. query5

    query5 New Member

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    Ashley isn't Michelle, she is showing lack of sportmanship with her overly abundant confidence.
    How much pitching is John nicks doing to overlook all her faults
     
  15. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

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    I feel that Wagner has a naturally athletic style on the ice. She displays power, spunk and athleticism at her finest. Whereas you take a skater like Czisny and she's the total opposite- refined, paying attention to detail, attempting to bring the audience in. Either style is fine, but IMO one should not try to be like the other. A "power" piece, while perfect for a Wagner, would overwhelm a Czisny. Vice-versa for a soft, lighter piece- fits Czisny to a T but give that to a skater like Wagner and it appears (to me, anyway) that she is trying too hard.

    It is fine if Wagner aspires to be like Kwan- in fact, I think it is great that she is setting such a high standard for herself. (Other US ladies- take note!!) But- in the quest to be like MK, she should be careful not to lose sight of her roots. Black Swan was a good compromise/balance between the two, I think. S&D has a little too much posing and posturing for my taste and it seems odd to me to see her doing that.
     
  16. SueSue

    SueSue Active Member

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    I definitely see similarities in how Ashley is presenting herself on the ice to Michelle's exquisite presentation. Her overall style remains the same though. I also see her skating to a variety of pieces just as Michelle did. No need to just stick with "power pieces."
     
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  17. feraina

    feraina Well-Known Member

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    I'm loving Ashley's growth in artistry and presentation. I feel like the sensual quality she has in S&D is a reflection of her own maturing personality (the kind of sensuality that Michelle Kwan never naturally possessed nor pretended to capture on ice, as she had her on personality and style; Yuna Kim, on the other hand, possesses it in abundance). Ashley is athletic, but also growing into a bit of a diva, and that's coming out on ice. Just because it wasn't apparent in her skating before (or perhaps because some fans don't like that emergent aspect of her personality), doesn't mean that she's trying too hard or faking it...

    Personally, I'm loving her confidence and personality on ice. The last time US had a ladies skater with this much confidence and personality, along with the technical goods, skating skills, and polish, was definitely Michelle and sometimes Sasha Cohen (e.g. Dark Eyes).
     
  18. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    I never compared their styles. It was just you. I was comparing their skating qualities and their competitive edge.

    I also disagree that they excel in their skating (or any aspect of their skating).

    Anyone who cared to pay attention to my posts at all would know I have always been a huge Wagner supporter. But that doesn't mean I am not realistic as to what else she could improve on if she wants to contend for gold with the very best. And comparing her to Lysacek is in no way putting her down. :rolleyes: Making that inference reflects more on your view than on mine.
     
  19. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to Nationals!

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  20. luenatic

    luenatic Well-Known Member

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    For those who are not Chicago Tribune Digital Plus subscriber, you can still read the Phil Hersh article using this little trick:
    Go to Yahoo (not Google), and search "chicago tribune phil hersh wagner breathtaking". Look for the article in the search result (should be on top), then click 'cached' to read the article. Enjoy!
     
  21. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    The way you said "very Lysacek," sounded like a "put down." Of course, it could be taken as a compliment too, but not in the context of your comments. However, pardon me if I misinterpreted your intent. Still, since you feel that Lysacek and Ashley "don't excel in any aspect of their skating," you obviously don't hold a high opinion of their skating.

    Yes, all skaters have aspects of their skating that they can improve upon. Of course Ashley is not an exception. Her fans are aware of that fact. What her fans are cheering about is that she's come a long way, even though she's still working on improving. In your original post comparing Ashley to Lysacek, you did say you "love Ashley," but you also said you don't perceive a "Champion quality" in her skating, and you feel other skaters are "better." Those are subjective opinions/ viewpoints. I differ with you as I think that Ashley has improved to the point where she is very competitive with other top skaters. She's not only proving her competitiveness, but with her recent consistency, she is also beginning to build positive rep with the judges.

    Since Ashley is already a champion skater, did you mean to say that you don't see "World or Olympic Champion quality" in her skating? If so, maybe Ashley will be able to turn that notion on its head too. I will definitely be rooting for her to do so. :)

    Skating is so subjective that differences in perceptions and viewpoints are to be expected. It's great to see Ashley proving her mettle and changing at least some fans' ways of looking at her. No matter what she accomplishes, Ashley will probably be unlikely to change everyone's views of her, but that's not really her goal anyway.
     
  22. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    Not 'almost' always. Cohen placed 4th at the 2003 Worlds, but at every competition after that through 2006 Worlds she podiumed. Before 2003 Worlds her lowest international placement ever was 6th at Junior Worlds in 2000, and that is the only time she ever placed 6th. She was top 5 at every competition of her entire senior career.
     
  23. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to Nationals!

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  24. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    I wish Ashley would tell us what Nicks did that made her jumps more consistent, but I guess that would help her competitors...
     
  25. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

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    I'd argue that she was a strong freeskater even before she went to Nicks- she was already good at staying on her feet, but she needed someone to clean up the jumps (2-footing, UR, etc.)

    It's the short program that took her out of contention almost every time, and even at worlds last year she had issues. It is CRITICAL to nail that short program because if we've learned anything, things haven't changed much from the 6.0 days- judges seem more willing to overlook errors in the FS than they are in the SP.
     
  26. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    The only thing specific I've heard from her is that Nicks forced her to "hang on" to her jumps in practices and not fall. The SP problem I'm not sure about - that seems a confidence issue, so something has definitely built up her confidence.
     
  27. mkats

    mkats New Member

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    Crazy to think how back then some of those silvers seemed like such a disappointment sorry, Sasha :slinkaway: . She really had an amazing career.
     
  28. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to Nationals!

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    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
  29. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Well, the expectations were so high, not only because of Sasha's talent, but because Michelle was so consistent winning gold most of the time, and occasionally silver but never off the podium until what became her last Worlds, the fluke 2005 Worlds (where IMO the judges kinda pushed MKwan off into 4th place).

    MK won 9 U.S. gold and 3 silver; she won 5 World gold, 3 silver, and one bronze; in addition she won 7 Skate America gold, and one silver; 3 Skate Canada gold, 2 silver, and one bronze; 1 GPF gold and 4 silver, plus a Junior World gold, and a variety of medals (including golds, silvers and a bronze) at sundry other international comps: TEB, Goodwill Games, Nations Cup, and Gardena Trophy. Pretty amazing treasure chest. I wonder where she keeps them all! I'm sure the tally would be even higher had Ms. Kwan competed more often on the GP circuit -- she apparently never competed at CoR, CoC (surprisingly) or NHK.

    Why do you need to know all the nitty-gritty details? I think Ashley and Mr. Nicks have both been pretty specific that he helped guide her to improve her mental preparation, her approach to training in general, and he helped adjust her technique on some jumps "a bit" (as Ashley phrased it). Ashley also gives Philip Mills a great deal of credit for his contributions as assistant coach, choreographer, mentor and friend. I also believe that Mills helped design Ashley's Pollock sp costume.

    Isn't it fairly apparent that Ashley has increased her physical training and she seems to have a greater belief in herself, as well as confidence in the knowledge that she is very prepared. Nicks obviously helped her channel all of her energies and desires in the right direction to the point where she seems calm and radiant when she takes the ice. I also believe the way her programs are structured, along with proper breathing, and overall packaging with music that enhances her style and flattering costumes helps add to Ashley's confidence. In the linked hometown article, I was surprised to learn that Ashley had experienced problems with her neck vertebrae prior to making the move to California. It must have been a relief for her to discover that physical problem and have it resolved, which probably also led to her making the ultimately beneficial overall assessment of her skating career.

    In any case, in terms of Mr. Nicks' specific guidance, what works for Ashley is not necessarily going to help her competitors or be what any of them require. I would imagine there aren't too many, if any, proprietary secrets in figure skating. ;) After all, fs ain't baseball, basketball, or tennis. When a figure skater is on the field of play (on center ice), they are there alone with "all eyes on them," and it's up to each individual skater to do their thing in front of the audience and the judges -- no opponent is blocking and no coach is making hand signals (the hours of practice and training have to kick in and be enough in those moments).
     
  30. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

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    Huh? That is kind of an odd leap. Ashley is skating gorgeously. Her artistry is becoming spectacular. If she wins either Worlds or OLYS it will be because she was the best skater that night..............I don't really see the complaint. I don't see anyone who is doing a better job of skating right now that Ashley. Who do you consider a "better" skater? Just curious.
     
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