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Q&A with Ashley Wagner

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Season 2018
2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Q&A with Ashley Wagner

The 2014 Olympian opens up about the first time she stepped onto the ice and what she does to relax after competition

Ashley Wagner finished seventh at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but earned a bronze medal with Team USA in the first-ever team event. She won a Worlds silver medal in 2016 and is the three-time U.S. national champion (2012, 2013, 2015).

What’s a misconception about figure skating that you want to clear up?

I hate hearing some people say that skating isn't a sport. We are landing with something like 500 pounds per square inch of force on the ice. The G-forces that we encounter in spins are intense. The programs we run are the equivalent of four minutes straight of sprinting. There is no sport like it.

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What would people be surprised to learn about training for the Olympics?

Figure skating training is incredibly diverse. The way we train run-throughs has so many different angles and approaches. It isn't just training one program a day, there are many different drills and patterns we use to train ourselves.

I think the training in general for skating is one of the most intense approaches I've ever seen in sport. People see the pretty finished product at the end with your hair and makeup done in spandex and sparkles. The actual blood, sweat, and tears that go into becoming an athlete of Olympic caliber in this sport is such an overwhelming commitment.

What workouts do you like outside of your normal training?

I am obsessed with biking. You don't work up much of a sweat skating and feeling your heart race like it does on the bike is addicting.

Since skating is so sport specific, it requires a lot of thinking outside of the box for our off-ice training. I do a lot of band work to manipulate the smaller muscles to simulate the force of coming out of a jump and strengthening those parts.

What is your earliest memory of figure skating?

I remember being on the ice in Alaska during a skating class. The bigger kids could make this ripping sound with their blades on the ice. I remember going back and forth trying to dig my edges into the ice as much as I could to make that sound.

What’s your earliest Olympic memory?

I remember watching Tara Lipinski win her gold medal in Nagano, looking at my mom and telling her that was going to be me one day.

How did growing up in a military family shape your career?

I am an Army brat. I moved nine times in 10 years and it made me incredibly adaptable. I was always the new kid,  that helped me create a very unique relationship with skating. I never was familiar with my surroundings and the rink was the one place that really felt like home to me because it always gave me this sense of comfort and familiarity.

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Who’s your greatest influence inside the world of figure skating?

Adam Rippon. He is the one person who gets how my head works and has helped guide my career and process my options. He's helped me make sense of everything. He’s also the wittiest person I know.

What was the best part of the Athletes’ Village at the Sochi Olympics?

Having access to so many different kinds of athletes was by far my favorite part. It’s like being surrounded by people who are the same kind of crazy as you are.

Is there a Summer Olympic sport you always wanted to try?

I loved track as a kid. If I was fast enough, I would love to compete in the 100-meter dash.

Did anyone ever tell you that you wouldn’t succeed in figure skating?

I have constantly been told I am too old. In 2016, at 24 years old, I became one of the oldest first-time medalists at the world championships. Age is just a number!

Are you superstitious? What do you have to do before every competition?

I am extremely superstitious. I have done this since I was a kid: I always have to find a crystal that has fallen off a costume and pick it up. I have no idea what happens to them or where they go, but I just need to find one.

What do you do to relax after competitions?

A glass of wine, a bubble bath, and RuPaul's drag race.

What are some of your hidden talents?

I can speak gibberish. I'm very good at raising my eyebrows and I'm a salsa-dancing fiend.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an athlete?

I would own my own coffee shop. I am obsessed with coffee.

What makes up a perfect day off for you?

I would make myself a cappuccino and go out on my porch and read. Then I would bike down to the beach and ride along the water. Go stand up paddle board for a bit. Head back for some burgers and then go out salsa dancing!

What are you afraid of?

I’m terrified of ceiling fans.

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What are your favorite TV shows and movies?

TV: How I Met Your Mother, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Game of Thrones

Movie: The Princess Bride

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

I am the worst singer, but Vienna by Billy Joel is my go to.

What’s your favorite emoji?

I love the girl with her one hand out like she's holding a tray. She is sassy!

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