Olympian Scott Hamilton Weighs In on Ashley Wagner/Mirai Nagasu Olympic Team Selection

Olympian Scott Hamilton Weighs In on Ashley Wagner/Mirai Nagasu Olympic Team Selection

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Figure Skating Team share a giant hug out on the ice during Smucker’s Skating Spectacular following the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships held at TD Garden on Sunday night (January 12) in Boston, Mass.

The full team includes: Gracie Gold, Polina Edmunds, Ashley Wagner, Jeremy Abbott, Jason Brown, pairs Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Batholomay, and ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.

Olympian Scott Hamilton, who won gold at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, spoke with The Today Show about the Ashley and Mirai Nagasu controversy. Despite placing third at the US Nationals this weekend, Mirai was not chosen to represent the USA at the Sochi Olympics.

“The national championships aren’t the Olympic trials,” Scott shared. “The selection process for the Olympic Games goes on for a couple of years before the Olympic Games, so the nationals are a part of that process, but it’s not the process. So when you look at Ashley Wagner and what she’s done over the last two years, winning nationals twice, placing high enough in the world championships to allow three participants to go, she’s already earned her spot on the Olympic team.”

He added, “I like to see somebody earn their spot on the team, but Ashley kind of did that. Mirai, I adore. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, was to give her our traditional ice cream last night with her eyes full of tears. She’s devastated, and my heart bleeds for her. I’m so sad for her, but the reason we have three women going to the Olympics is because of Ashley Wagner.”

WHO DO YOU THINK SHOULD GO TO SOCHI?
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Credit: Matthew Stockman, Jared Wickerham; Photos: Getty
Posted to: 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Ashley Wagner, Charlie White, Gracie Gold, Jeremy Abbott, Meryl Davis

19 Comments

#1
Maven @ 4:13 pm on 01/15/2014

If Scott wants to know who’s to blame for all the flap, he should look in the mirror. It was HIS job to explain to the TV audiences why – and *exactly* why – the US Nationals aren’t the be-all and end-all of team selection. He failed – miserably – and left everyone with the impression that it was total politics with a side of greed, and possibly topped off with racism.

By the way, the reason Ashley had to “earn back” that third spot was that she helped lose it in the first place. She placed 17th in 2008. (Kimmie Meissner was 7th, Beatrisa Liang 10th.)

#2
D. Domarad @ 3:23 pm on 01/16/2014

Honestly, unless there is corruption involved, I really wish that the USFSA and other federations / associations would just simply honor the results. For once, in my opinion, the judges at Nationals managed to get 1-3 right and they were on the right path until they decided to manipulate the standings for various and nefarious reasons.

The irony is, that the Olympics themselves are full of “underdog” athletes and great comeback stories and the podiums have been chock full of them and whether the more accomplished athlete is on them or not, you do not see the IOC “bumping” the medalists off the Olympic podium(s), if an underdog beats the big, more accomplished star! I mean, come on…, this is so wrong!

Imagine, if we applied this selection criteria in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL or any other Olympic eligible sport?!

Ashley Wagner was not injured at the time of this competition, (all athletes have muscle strains, bumps, bruises, blisters, etc, we’re not talking about that) which would then, obviously, be a strong argument, but to be overwhelmed by the moment, etc?! You live with the consequences, that is sport and that is life! We use resumes’ in the business world, not sport, let’s keep it that way and again, unless there is / has been corruption involved, let the podium results in competition stand.

What would really be impressive, is if Ashley Wagner were to step aside to the alternate position and let the results stand. I guarantee, this action in and of itself would be more impressive and garner more respect from a lot of people, than any medal would, be it gold, silver or bronze. Ashley Wagner would become a household name in the right, positive way. This action would show humility and unquestionable character if she were to do this. It would take great strength, resolve, faith and selflessness, no doubt, but there is no way Ashley Wagner could ever lose in this situation! Now that is sportsmanship at it’s finest and the right and compassionate thing to do!

Not every athlete makes it to the Olympic games, even after multiple tries and that is ok, you can still be a great athlete!! Ashley would survive and be a better person for it! Can an athlete honestly, in all good conscience, be comfortable representing the USA at the Olympic Games, knowing that they had been “selected” on very fluid, vague and unsportsmanlike rules and guidelines. Here is an idea: How about if someone from that “selection committee,” with a conscience, steps forward and gives us the real story as to why this biased, unfair and unacceptable “decision” was really made. Think about it, as you have plenty support to come forward!!

#3
APkay @ 4:20 pm on 01/16/2014

Scott Hamilton speaks with forked tongue–a few years ago he was explaining away the committee’s decision to DENY Johnny Weir’s request for a bye onto the Worlds team after Johnny skated Nationals with the flu and failed to qualify (same as Wagner, with Wagner not even able to claim the excuse of having been ill). Weir was WAY more decorated internationally than Ashley Wagner, and was a World medallist to boot (which Wagner is not). Scott’s reasoning was that if Weir hadn’t skated the event, and had instead withdrawn from Nationals due to his illness, the committee probably would have granted his request. Now he thinks it’s totally cool that Ashley was selected via committee without even making a request–the committee just GAVE her the slot–after skating the event and failing.

So basically Scotty shills for the committee, no matter which way or how inconsistently it rules.

#4
jlee @ 2:09 pm on 01/17/2014

Scott Hamiliton is just playing up to NBC and the sponsors so he can maintain his job as a commentator for the Olympics. Mirai is clearly the winner over Wagner. Wagner has already selected by NBC regardless of what happens at Nationals.

#5
giseahawks @ 6:31 pm on 01/17/2014

You gotta be kudding me mr hypocrite Scott. HAMILTOn. If the nationals isnt the selecting most important and maybe the only selecting basis for the olympic team then why has the placement been used year after year. Secondly, if the years of achievrments were used for the selction then hiwcan edmunds be sselcted for the team.

ScOTT don’t thunk the american public is as stupid as ypu think. You are ni longer an Olympian in my mind for what you have done fir the sport. Gi tarnish the sport elsewhere

#6
jonlee @ 8:16 pm on 01/17/2014

Supporters of Ashley keep saying that Nationals isn’t the Olympic qualifiers and that the only reason the US has 3 spots is because of Ashley.

Bottom line is that there is NO PRECEDENTS for NOT choosing the the top finishers at the Nationals, except for an injury. While Ashley has had some success this past two years, I don’t think her “body of work” over the past two years made up for that massive failure at the Nationals, especially when compared with how much better Mirai skated under the same pressure-packed situation. Secondly, Ashley did not get the third US Ladies spot for the next Olympics by herself. It took BOTH Ashley and Gracie skating relatively well in the previous championships in order to qualify 3 skaters in the Olympics – she didn’t do it by herself.

While I don’t think Mirai’s un-doing was based on her race, I just think she got screwed due to all of the pre-Olympic hype already surrounding Ashley.

#7
Dennis @ 4:24 am on 01/18/2014

How much is Hamilton being paid to be a shill for biased ***** at the USFSA?

#8
pj @ 4:58 pm on 01/18/2014

Maybe mirai is better than ashley in 2014 than the last 2 nationals.mirai got 3rd place.youscrewed her scott hamilton.i’ m glad I’m not in ice skating.no matter how soft spokn you say it

#9
Laura @ 6:01 pm on 01/18/2014

I used to like Scott…..but now I am not sure what he really stands for.

#10
rohjo @ 12:43 am on 01/19/2014

Look up petition at change dot org to US Figure Skating president Patricia St. Peter

[petition comment]

“Body of work” in this case is double standard; e.g., the “body of work” of Edmunds. As an appellate attorney and former chair of USFSA’s Ethics Committee, you should have guided Mirai through appeals process after her inquiry. She had no one of consequence to lobby on her behalf.

Given the investment of sponsors and NBC in Wagner, and Frank Carroll’s statement at nationals on Edmunds, “She is the future,” the USFSA’s selection looks tainted. It will not slip into a black hole of public memory, especially if Wagner bombs, again, at the Olympics, or if Edmunds, despite the market value of her speaking Russian in Sochi, fails untested expectations.

You have the diplomatic and political skills to review and retract your decision, which would polish the tarnished name of USFSA, and increase its future popularity and marketability.

#11
Phylly e @ 2:05 am on 01/19/2014

I am a in total agreement that Mirai got the shaft here.. for several reason BUT I do think it is worth bringing up that gymnastics team selection is similar.. no one except first place is guaranteed a spot at the team trials.. doesn’t even matter if they don’t compete due to injury or illness. The tram is ‘selected’ by a committee. As far as Mirai I just think it was unfair to say Ashley earned her spot because of her body of work but that Mirai didn’t and then to select Edmunds who has NO body of work at the senior level… double standards …

#12
Phylly e @ 2:11 am on 01/19/2014

With that said… I would actually have preferred the team of Gold, Edmund’s and Nagasu rather than Gold, Edmunds and Wagner. I am probably out numbered here but I have never really enjoyed watching Ashley skate. Always feels forced. I miss Kwan… lol

#13
dee @ 6:12 pm on 01/19/2014

Please, none of you have watched skating other than this ONE competition. The 3rd spot came down to Wagner and Nagasu. In the end, Mirai has not done much in the last 4 years. Maybe a couple of triumphs and medals, but very little. Ashley has fought and has qualified for many events and has medaled numerous times. You would know that if you had actually watched skating in the last few years. Her international experience is superb. Ashley has done more than enough to earn her a spot. The nationals are not THE qualifying event. There many qualifying events. Unfortunately for Ashley this happened on national T.V.

#14
Sandy @ 6:52 pm on 01/19/2014

I’ve seen plenty of skating competitions, and it doesn’t matter which way Mr. Hamilton spins this, most Americans still aren’t buying what he’s selling. We realize he’s looking out for BP, P&G, Nike… errr, I mean the skaters, but some people aren’t buying it because:
1. Wagner came in a distant 4th, this wasn’t close
2. If she hadn’t lost the spot in the first place in 2008 she wouldn’t have had to win it back.
3. We understand in many countries this is how teams may be chosen, but we live in the USA. This is a diverse country, unlike many of the more homogenous regions where racism wouldn’t have been as obvious. Stomping on someones dream, especially a Person of Color (POC), is kind of a big deal here, as it should be.
4. With Lindsey Vonn out of the Olympics, corporate sponsors need to hang onto Wagner cause we all know only blonde people can shill stuff.
5. Never has a spot been awarded to someone who was not injured or otherwise unable to compete. And a spot has never been awarded to a defeated opponent at the cost of the actual winner.
6. If *body of work* is being considered, then obviously Ms. Edmunds should have been left behind; which brings us to the only 2 firm requirements for American ice skaters – barring a knock out performance by one of those pesky POCs. To paraphrase Wallis Simpson, you can’t be too thin or too blonde, so there you go.
One thing is for sure, when Ms. Wagner takes the ice, we’ll find out whether Karma is a real thing. I’m plugging for Karma, myself.

#15
Lynn @ 12:13 am on 01/21/2014

Excellent post Sandy!! You are spot on and I agree that a great many of us are not buying what they are selling over at the USFSA! So many things wrong with this decision! I could elaborate, but you summed it up perfectly.

In my opinion, Ashley Wagner should seriously think about stepping aside. My conscience would not allow me to follow through under these circumstances, but that is me. Every person has to arrive to a conclusion on their own terms, I suppose.

Great comments above as well!!

#16
Lynn @ 12:36 am on 01/21/2014

By the way, if you would like a way to help Mirai Nagasu get to Sochi and send a message to the USFSA to clean up figure skating and ice dancing and also to voice that USFSA legitimize this sport, please visit change.org to sign the petition that will go to:

U.S. Figure Skating president Patricia St. Peter: Send Mirai Nagasu to Sochi!!

Thank you.

#17
George @ 8:44 am on 01/31/2014

It is like white people insisting that grades and SAT scores being the only criterion for admission into college (read Abigail Fisher, Barbara Grutter and Jennifer Gratz) while competing against blacks and Hispanics and then insisting that they look at the whole person when competing against Asians. Look at it from any side, it is what Tim Wise calls WHITE PRIVILEGE….and seems to me that in recent years more white females seem to enjoy it than white males…despite their complains about sexism.

#18
dexter haven @ 9:25 am on 02/17/2014

If Ms. Nagasu is young enough. She should consider taking up residence in another country. Thailand comes to mind. And skate for that country in the next winter games.

Do I hear naysayers? Guess where Wagner was born. Germany.

#19
sick of racism!!! @ 9:41 am on 02/24/2014

@dee: Oh you forgot to mention she’s white!!! We all know thats the main reason she was picked over Nagasu and you know it too!!!!!

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