Meanwhile, Asada is trying to improve on her silver medal performance from four years ago. She still has a triple axel in her program but also a triple flip-triple loop.
“In Vancouver, there was tension throughout my time there,” Asada said. “Now, because it’s my second time, it almost doesn’t feel like the Olympics. I’m nervous, but feel secure about myself, so I’m looking forward to it. I love being back on this grand stage.”
The Americans are hoping to have a woman land on the Olympic medal podium after being shut out of the medals in Vancouver. (Mirai Nagasu placed fourth.)
At the start of the season, Wagner appeared to be the top medal contender from the United States, but she struggled at nationals, falling twice in the free skate and finishing fourth. Still, an international committee selected her for the U.S. Olympic Team, a decision based on her breadth of international performances but one that caused controversy.
She came to Sochi and helped lead the Americans to a bronze medal in the team event, but she was disappointed in her marks for her short program and now her “not impressed” a la McKayla Maroney photo has become an Internet sensation.
“What you see is what you get,” said Wagner, who graduated from West Potomac High School. “If I’m sad, I’m sad. If I’m happy, I’m happy. You will always get the true story with me. I haven’t mastered sitting and smiling.”
Gold, meanwhile, comes to Sochi with the most momentum of any of the American women. Her season began shakily as she lost an early competition and her jumps seemed off. She dropped her coach in Illinois and moved with her mother and twin sister to Southern California so she could train with Frank Carroll, the coach who guided Evan Lysacek to the gold medal in Vancouver.
She went on to win nationals and appears to be an entirely different skater from what she was just months ago.
“It’s always great to have an experienced guide on this journey,” Gold said. “He’s been a rock these past couple of months. He’s never thrown off or surprised about anything. He’s so calm; he’s been a great influence.
“2014 has been all about momentum,” Gold said. “I’m just trying to keep the mojo going.”
Last, but certainly not least, is Polina Edmunds. She was the surprise at nationals, winning a silver medal and making the Olympic team even though she had competed internationally only at the junior level. Edmunds, a high school sophomore from the Bay Area, is coached by David Glynn and by her mother, Nina Edmunds.
Nina Edmunds is a Russian native who grew up in Tver. For the Edmundses, coming to Sochi is a homecoming of sorts.
Polina arrived here under the radar but hopes to fly over it.
“The excitement isn’t really around me right now,” Edmunds said. “I can’t wait to show everyone, and the crowd and the judges, what I can do.”