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TODAY   |  January 10, 2014

Scott Hamilton: Ashley Wagner should make Team USA

NBC Olympics Figure Skating Analyst Scott Hamilton previews the US Figure Championship this weekend, a crucial qualifying event for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Wagner is a two-time defending national champion.

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>>> now to today's countdown to sochi , 27 days to go. the u.s. figure skating championship which helps determine who will represent america at the winter games began last night in boston . 22-year-old ashley wagner , the national champion squarely in the spotlight. ashley wagner 's olympic dreams began more than a decade ago. after just missing out on qualifying for the last olympics, the stage is now set for her to earn her ticket to sochi .

>> when you see me at the u.s. national championships , in my mind, i'm going to be freaking out, i'm going to be like, oh, my god, there's so much at stake at this one competition. but i'm going to try and focus mostly on the fact that i'm well-trained, i've been doing this for most of my life, i should get my act together and go out and skate.

>> and scott hamilton is nbc's figure skating analyst up in boston for the competition. great to see you.

>> hey, scott , how are you?

>> good morning, i'm doing great. awesome to be in boston , wicked.

>> okay. you're in the spirit. so ashley wagner 's the two-time national champion . a lot of people looking at her to be the leader of this figure skating group for the americans in sochi . last night, she came in fourth in the short program. a lot of people expecting her to do a little better. how does that affect her chances of making the team?

>> you know, honestly, i don't see any problem with her making the team at all. she's been the top american lady for the last two years. and she's got, you know, great position to even medal, might be a potential medal winner at the olympics. i don't see any problem with her making the team. and she's fit, she's healthy, she's ready to go. she may have wanted it a little too bad last night, may have gripped it too tight going into that combination, but did the rest of the program beautifully and intense performance. and a great watch. so i hope people tune in and watch it.

>> hey, scott , it's hoda. i'm liking this 18-year-old gracie gold. she did very well last night. tell us about her chances.

>> well, very well is an understatement. she was amazing. she looked like a princess on the ice. the look of her, the way she's packaged herself, the way she's got a new coach who coached evan lysacek to a gold medal in vancouver. she came out and owned it last night. she did everything perfectly, beautifully in a spectacular fashion. i think it was a national record for a lady short program. and she's in the lead right now. and she's got a comfortable lead. she may win this thing.

>> and the big favorites in ice dancing , scott , meryl davis and charlie white , how are they looking heading to sochi ?

>> spectacular. i watched their practice yesterday. and they're perfect. they're absolutely perfect. and when you look at their biggest competitors, i mean, they're perfect, as well. so they skate together and have the same coaches. it's an amazing story about how they push each other. and charlie and meryl never looked better. so i anticipate them really competing well for the gold medal in sochi .

>> all right, scott . great to get your insights on everything. talk to you soon.

>> thanks, scott .

>> great. thank you. good to