Some people may think living as an Army brat negatively affects a person’s upbringing. Moving nine times in 10 years, changing schools as well as friends, plus trying to figure out who you are along the way can be very challenging for a child.
But for 18-year-old Ashley Wagner, being the daughter of a lieutenant colonel has been nothing but positive for her and her ice skating career.
“Every year, I had a new coach, and I’d be at a new rink, but it has really taught me how to adapt … At the level that I’m at in my career, I have a lot of international competitions, and it won’t always be the best situation; but because of how I grew up, I learned to make the best out of anything thrown at me.”
When Wagner was 5 years old, she and her family moved to Anchorage, Alaska. Her father was stationed in Laos, so that left Wagner’s mother stuck in the house with Wagner and her younger brother, who were both “driving [my mom] crazy.”
Determined to get her children out of the house, she gave Wagner the choice between ballet and ice-skating. “Everyone was skating up there and when you’re five, you just want to fit in.”
Wagner and her mom joined a mother-daughter skating class and by the second lesson, Wagner was skating confidently and effortlessly, out-performing her mother.
Years went on as Wagner moved up in competitive ranks and quickly knew where she wanted to be: the Olympics.
From her demanding practices to dangerous injuries, Wagner’s path to the 2010 Olympics has been anything but easy.
Wagner’s practices have her on the ice for three hours, five days a week, with an additional hour-long practice on weekends. Although it may be necessary, the tough training can quickly take its toll on a teenager.
Just weeks before the World Junior Championships in Bulgaria, Wagner began having such bad heart palpitations that doctors had to run an EKG on her at the rink. Though it still bothers her every now and then, Wagner says to keep it under control she has to “do everything in moderation, drink more water and try to calm down a bit.”
According to an LA Times article, the irony is that “military upbringing made me very good at controlling my emotions,” Wagner said.
Alongside her heart condition has been a recent ankle injury that flares up once in a while. “Some days it’s better than others, but it’s manageable. I can’t be worried about it,” Wagner said.
Despite the injuries, Wagner stays motivated by having two major influences in her life: Tara Lipinski, who has been the one skater she admires the most, and her brother Austin. After the judging on Wagner’s short performance last week, where she fell for the first time during Nationals, she posted a video blog (vlog) on YouTube stating,
“Someone just told me that Tara [Lipinkski] was in fourth place at Nationals before her Olympics, so maybe I can kind of follow in her footsteps.”
Her positive attitude also comes from her younger brother Austin, who makes a cameo in the same vlog. “He’s amazing; I don’t know what I would do without him.”
Austin made another appearance with Wagner at a place where most students would never have guessed. While the Spokane Arena held the competitions, EWU’s rec center held practices for Wagner.
“It’s a beautiful facility! We come from an older rink, so this is just amazing. We are so lucky to be using it and appreciate it so much,” Wagner said.
Although Wagner practiced extensively and remained optimistic after her short routine, her Saturday night long program was unable to shake her from third place.
Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu, filled the two seats to the 2010 Olympics. Wagner was four points behind second-place Nagasu.
This isn’t the end of Wagner. “I’ll be here four years from now,” she said.