They’re both named Ashley, they both have fascinating underdog stories and they’re both from Northern Virginia. And both will be closely watched American athletes competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics starting next week.
Ashley Wagner, 22, is probably the better known NoVa product, a figure skater who did not make the Olympic team in 2010, then won the U.S. championships in 2012 and 2013. But she finished fourth and fifth in the last two world championships, then fell twice and finished fourth in the 2014 U.S. competition, so it was unclear if she’d make the U.S. team for Sochi. She did, and The Post’s Liz Clarke has a full profile with the latest on Wagner’s plans. Though she was an Army brat, her family moved to the Alexandria area of Fairfax County when she was 10, and she skated for years at Mount Vernon Ice Arena under Shirley Hughes. She is a graduate of West Potomac High School and now trains in California. Her Twitter account is here, and she apparently was interviewed Wednesday by Matt Lauer on the Today show.
Ashley Caldwell, 20, is a freestyle aerial skiier from Ashburn and is going to her second Olympics. She first entered the world of sporting fame by winning local Punt, Pass and Kick competitions and setting distance records, even against the boys. She then took her youth gymnastic training to the slopes, and at age 16 she made the 2010 U.S. Olympic team, where she was the youngest member. She finished 10th, after finishing second in the U.S. championships. But then Caldwell blew out a knee, recovered, then blew out the other knee. Now she is back, and finished second in a World Cup event last month. In the Olympics, due to dumb “rules,” she will not be allowed to use her trademark Washington Redskins skis. Rick Maese has an excellent profile of her here, and her Twitter account is here. Brian McNally also had a good piece on Caldwell in the Washington Times.
Ashley Wagner’s short program is scheduled for Feb. 19, and the long program is set for Feb. 20. Ashley Caldwell’s preliminaries and finals in the women’s aerials are scheduled for Feb. 14.
By the way, the two Ashleys from NoVa are the only two Virginians on the U.S. team, which is sending the largest delegation of any nation in Winter Games history. So if you’re scoring at home, that’s NoVa 2, RoVa 0.
Here is an excellent video package on Ashley Wagner done by The Post’s Lee Powell: