'Ashley Wagner Wants It So Badly': Tara Lipinski On the World Figure Skating Championships

Karen Rosen
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Watching Ashley Wagner (above) skate to the Eurythmics’ pulsating “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” who are we to disagree? Last year the 25-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, was the surprise silver medalist at the World Championships, winning the first ladies’ medal for the United States since 2006. But while Wagner goes into the 2017 Worlds in Helsinki as the most experienced member of Team USA, she’ll have to fight to get back onto the podium.

“Ashley Wagner is so gutsy and so spunky and wants it so badly,” says NBC analyst Tara Lipinski, the 1997 world champion and 1998 Olympic gold medalist. “The one area she excels in is the artistic score. But technically it’s going to be difficult for her to compete with the Russians. Triple-triple [jumps] are easy as pie for them. Ashley’s been around a long time and she knows how to sell a program, but the jumps need to be there.”

Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva, 17, is the reigning world champion and pre-Olympic favorite. “She hits her jumps and I rarely ever see her fall,” Lipinski says.

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Wagner has more than the weight of the World Championships on her shoulders. The size of next year’s U.S. Olympic team depends on how high Wagner, newly minted U.S. champion Karen Chen and U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell place. (The same goes in the other disciplines, where men’s singles skater Nathan Chen and ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani will contend for gold medals.) If they have poor performances, the U.S. will be able to send only two skaters to the 2018 Olympic Games instead of three. Now that would be a nightmare.

World Figure Skating Championships Schedule

Wednesday, March 29, 11am/10c, NBCSN
Ladies Short; Pairs Short
Thursday, March 30, 11am/10c, NBCSN
Men’s Short;
Pairs Free
Friday, March 31, 1/noon c, NBCSN Ladies’ Free
Saturday, April 1, 12:30/11:30am c, NBCSN
Men’s Free; Free Dance
Saturday, April 1, 8/7c, NBC  
Ladies’ Free
Sunday, April 2, 2/1c, NBCSN, Exhibition