At this time four years ago, Ashley Wagner was beginning the final months of training for what she reasonably could have expected would lead to her second Olympic appearance after having won an Olympic team event bronze medal in 2014.

Sure, her 2016-17 season had been a struggle, with a subpar seventh-place performance at the World Championships. But that was still her sixth straight worlds, and, among U.S. women, only Michelle Kwan has a longer consecutive appearance streak.

Beyond that, Wagner had skated to a silver medal at the 2016 Worlds, to this day the only medal by a U.S. woman at worlds since 2006. And Wagner had been just five points from a medal at the 2015 Worlds, when she was third in the free skate.

In October 2017, no one could have foreseen Bradie Tennell going from relative unknown to 2018 U.S. champion or Mirai Nagasu putting it together for a stunning performance when it counted most, at the 2018 U.S. Championships. Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion, and Karen Chen, the 2017 champion, were, at that point, seemingly the best bets to claim spots on the team going to South Korea, with the third and final spot up for grabs.

Four months later, after a workmanlike, unremarkable performance at nationals, Wagner would be the odd woman out. She was furious about the scores that kept her from the 2018 team and unafraid to say that, her outsized reaction provoked by disappointment that blurred her perspective on what the judges had seen.

(It wasn’t the first such public reaction from the feisty, disarmingly honest Wagner. Her disapproving expression for her scores in the 2014 Olympic team event was right out of the McKayla Maroney meme playbook.)

Wagner would nevertheless make it to the 2018 Olympics, as a schmoozer for Toyota, paid to accompany the sponsor’s executives and guests at an event in which she wanted to be competing. She thought going would be better than sitting at home, that she was making lemonade out of lemons, but by the end she was frequently calling her agent to see if she could cut the trip short…

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