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The Inside Edge: Wagner poses for ESPN magazine

Three-time U.S. champ wants skaters to be portrayed as 'strong athletes'
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Ashley Wagner tries to stay warm during her shoot for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue. -Eric Lutzens

Ashley Wagner is one of 23 athletes to appear in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue, which hit newsstands Friday.

Wagner appears in a lunge pose, wearing her skates, a fierce expression -- and nothing else. Other athletes in the issue include tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots, Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez and Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas.

Wagner agreed to pose for the magazine six months ago.

"I've actually wanted to be in the Body Issue for quite a while," she said. "It's such a unique opportunity for athletes to showcase the beauty of their body. Figure skating is one of those sports that doesn't get enough recognition for the physical challenges of the sport. I found out I was going to be in the issue in January, and I was super excited. It's an entirely new audience beyond the figure skating world, and I was elated to be in it."

Wagner is the fifth figure skater to appear in the issue, joining Johnny Weir, Evan Lysacek, and pairs skaters Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig. Lysacek and Weir posed without skates, while Evora and Ladwig were shown on the ice in a sit spin.

She said the magazine specifically asked her to be on the ice, in skating poses.

"There are so many cool movements in skating," Wagner said. "The photographer got used to the rhythm of the movement, and we'd keep shooting."

The one-day shoot took place at Anaheim ICE immediately after the World Team Trophy in April. Because of the timing, Wagner said she was already looking lean and mean, but she also noted that her dedication to year-round fitness gave her added confidence that she would look to be in tip-top shape.

"I didn't drink water for like a day and a half, but that was the only preparation I had to do!" she said, laughing. "Where I'm at in my skating career, it's so much easier to maintain being in shape rather than letting go in the summer and getting back in shape for the season. It's better to never stop working, never stop working out -- that's what works best for my body."

After six years touring with Stars on Ice, which has a lot of quick changes backstage, Wagner said she was perfectly comfortable baring her body for the camera.

"I long ago dropped the sensitivity of taking my clothes off in front of people, when the moment calls for it," she said. "The photographers went out of their way to make sure every single detail of the shoot was something I felt comfortable with. It was a female photographer and a small team -- I was able to choose who would be there -- and they were all so respectful. Obviously, I'm showing a lot of skin, but I was in total control."

Now that she has seen the photos, Wagner is very pleased with the results.

"I'm really happy with them because I feel it's done as tastefully as a naked shoot can be done," Wagner said. "I'm super proud to show my mother and my grandmother."

Portraying figure skating as a sport that demands peak athleticism is something Wagner feels strongly about. She said she is glad to share the pages of the magazine with other elite physical specimens.

"I think people understand that figure skating is a difficult sport, but I think sometimes they don't see it as an athletic sport," she said. "They see that it's beautiful and graceful, but they don't really understand the muscle, the strength, the power, the control that goes into making the movement as beautiful as it is. You need strong back muscles, a strong butt, a strong core, to make the movement happen. I hope they will see that we are strong athletes as well as graceful performers."

June wedding round-up

Ice dancer Isabella Tobias wed Samuel Lites on June 10 at the Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan. Lites is a scout for the Detroit Red Wings; his father is the president and CEO of the Dallas Stars hockey team, and his grandmother owns the Detroit Tigers and the Red Wings. Tobias and Lites first met at a Tigers baseball game in 2012.

The bride looked stunning in a Vera Wang gown. Several skaters attended the ceremony, including Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani, Kaitlyn Weaver, Andrew Poje, Penny Coomes, Nick Buckland, Jean-Luc Baker and Patrick Chan. Tobias' partner, Ilia Tkachenko, and her former partner, Deividas Stagniunas, were in the wedding party, as were skaters Alissandra Aronow, Becky Bereswill, Chloe Rose Lewis and Joti Polizoakis.

"The skaters, unsurprisingly, put on a huge show on the dance floor," Tobias said. "The other guests were loving it. Deividas and I really went for it when 'Hips Don't Lie' came on."

Former pairs and singles competitor Danielle Montalbano and Czech skater Michal Březina were also married June 10, at The Royalton mansion on Long Island. Březina's countryman, pairs skater Ondřej Hotárek, was the best man. Several other skaters were in attendance, including Jorik Hendrickx, Mark Ladwig, Kiira Korpi and Mari Vartmann, who was a bridesmaid.

On June 3, former U.S. and international competitor Molly Oberstar married Benjamin Leis, an inventory support planner for Best Buy. Adam Rippon and Alex Johnson were in the wedding party, wearing white tuxedo jackets that beautifully complemented Oberstar's Berta-designed dress. Douglas Razzano and Eliot Halverson also attended.

Three more weddings to mention: 1999 world junior ice dance champion Justin Pekarek married Marharyta Abreu in Mexico (he was formerly married to ice dancer Hilary Gibbons). Former Canadian pairs champion Bryce Davison married Michele Moore on June 17 in Ontario; Dylan Moscovitch was the best man, and many other skaters attended, including Chan and Shawn Sawyer. And finally, 2009 Swiss champion Jamal Othman married skating coach Romain Haguenauer on June 17 in Montreal.

Radford engaged

Two-time world pairs champion Eric Radford announced via Instagram that he was engaged to his longtime boyfriend, Spanish ice dancer Luis Fenero. He shared a picture of himself with Fenero, on one knee, with the following caption: "I've learned that the best things in life have a level of simplicity to them. I see it in art, I hear it in music and I feel it with this man. Loving him is simple and beautiful. The feeling of freedom and joy I had flying over the mountains is the same feeling I have when I think of life with @luis_febi ...and I want to feel that forever so... I asked him to marry me and he said yes!!"

Edmunds, Miner confirmed for 'EWC'

Paul Wylie and Emily Hughes will be back at Harvard Univeristy on Sept. 15 and 16 hosting the 47th annual "An Evening with Champions" fundraiser. Polina Edmunds and Ross Miner are confirmed to appear, along with the Haydenettes, Kevin Shum, Selena Zhao and Yasmin Siraj. More skaters will be added to the cast in the coming weeks. For an updated cast list and ticket information, visit aneveningwithchampions.org.

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