Ice Network

Wagner brings the sizzle, wins short with ease

Tuktamisheva has dismal outing, sits seventh; Precocious Nagai second
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Ashley Wagner used her sex appeal -- as well as her superior skating skills -- to take a lead of more than seven points in the short program. -Getty Images

Being sexy was the key, perhaps.

Ashley Wagner, skating to "Hip Hip Chin Chin," faced a tough ladies field at 2015 Skate Canada and sizzled her way to the lead, winning the short program with 70.73 points, 7.38 ahead of her closest competitor.

"I'm beyond ecstatic," she said. "That was everything I know I am capable of as an athlete. To show that going up against a world champion…I can kind of keep my head on straight and deliver under pressure."

Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, the reigning world champion from Russia, shook her head in the kiss-and-cry area after plunging to seventh place in the field of 12. Tuktamisheva doubled her triple axel and turned out of both parts of her triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination. Worst of all, she doubled her triple lutz, a mistake that caused that element being invalidated. The Russian earned only 55.37 points.

The surprise of the field was young Yuka Nagai of Japan, who was in her first Grand Prix competition. The 16-year-old finished second with 63.35 points after landing a perfectly rotated trple lutz-triple toe loop and a triple loop.

"At first, I was pretty nervous," Nagai said in careful English. "I'm glad to be here now. "

Nagai finished well ahead of her more seasoned countrymate, Kanako Murakami, who appeared delighted with her skate, although she did a single axel and under-rotated the last part of her triple toe loop-triple toe loop. She finished with 59.79, just 0.58 points ahead of two-time Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond.

Osmond delivered a most gutsy effort, after hurting herself on a fall during practice Thursday.   

It was a fluke accident: She stuck her toe pick in for a lutz and it completely rolled over before she took off.

"I knew something was wrong, which made me come down funny," she said.

She figures she might have a minor sprain. But after five sessions of physiotherapy over the past 24 hours, Osmond pronounced her ankle "actually feeling pretty good."

"It still hurts, but it's tolerable," she said.

Osmond landed her triple flip-triple toe loop combination and a triple lutz, the first time she included both jumps in the same program. The first element earned her 11 points.

The program was not without its mistakes, however. As she was coming down from a flying sit spin, her foot slid out from under her and she fell. She got back on her feet went back to work, but then fell on a double axel.

"It was a shock more than anything, the way I fell (on the spin)," Osmond said. "I didn't really get myself on top of my feet before the axel."

Osmond sits fourth with 59.21 points.

In fifth with 56.85 points is Polina Edmonds, who was disappointed with her scores.

The judges gave her no points for her flying sit spin in her "Moonlight Sonata" routine, choreographed by Rudy Galindo.

"I'm very shocked," she said. "I personally thought it went really well. I did a great one in my warmup, and I did a very similar one in the performance. "

But it was Wagner's day. Since last season, she's been working on endurance and transitions. After the Japan Open in early October, Wagner returned to choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne and had her Moulin Rouge! routine re-designed. Eighty percent of it is different from last season.

But the sexy short was a sudden inspiration. She was at Stars on Ice in Canada during rehearsals when Kurt Browning began to play "Hip Hip Chin Chin" for a group number. 

"I raced to the boards, I grabbed my phone -- I should have been learning one of the numbers, but I was texting Shae instead and told her that I had found our music," Wagner said. "From then on, I was dead set on that piece.

"I think that, for me, because I am one of the older girls, I need to use my maturity as one of my strengths, and so I felt a sexier piece was going to help me get there, and it's fun," she continued. "I love salsa and samba, all those types of ballroom dancing. Kind of bring it to the ice and do my best Tessa Virtue impersonation."