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Olympian Ashley Wagner returns to Kansas City, where her dream started

Ashley Wagner will come back to Kansas City for the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Sprint Center.
Ashley Wagner will come back to Kansas City for the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Sprint Center. 2014 AP photo

Take Ashley Wagner back 18 years, before the moves with her Army family from Germany to California and the heaps of figure skating medals. Take it all back, and there’s a 6-year-old girl, crouched in front of a television in Kansas City, forming her dream.

There was Tara Lipinski, a 15-year-old figure skater, skating to the music from the movie “Anastasia” and winning an Olympic gold medal. There, in her Kansas City living room, Wagner saw Lipinski’s small-stature and elegance, and thought she could be just like her.

Almost 18 years later, Wagner came back to Kansas City, with that dream fulfilled in the form of a bronze team medal from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

She donned a Charlie Hustle blue heart shirt as she went to a local ice rink on Thursday and skated with kids who were working on similar dreams. That shirt that has become a Kansas City symbol, to her was a symbol for making her dream come full circle

“It was really cool to see the next generation of kids coming up,” Wagner said. “But I’m not even kidding, I’m really excited about this shirt. … I know these are a big deal. I feel like I’ve made it.”

She said that last part with a laugh.

Wagner is 25 years old and stands 5 feet 3 — she outgrew Lipinski, her idol. Wagner, who trains in California, won a silver medal at the World Championships in Boston earlier this year, in addition to her Olympic medal. She’s even become a meme (http://mashable.com/2014/02/09/ashley-wagner-meme/).

Next January, she’ll come back to Kansas City, this time for the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Sprint Center, for which she was in town this week to to help promote. The event is where the road back to the Olympics starts.

It was this event that hurt her Olympic chances in 2014, as she placed fourth before she was selected to the team. But in 2015, she took third in the U.S. championships, which locked in her spot for this year’s championships in Kansas City.

As she made the media rounds in Kansas City on Thursday and toured Kauffman Stadium before taking in a Royals’ game, she was reminded of her dreams as a little girl.

“This (Kansas City) is where it all started,” Wagner said. “This is where I decided to be an Olympian.”

As she finished the long day, she relaxed, turned on the television and watched Michael Phelps “absolutely destroy” his Olympic swimming opponents.

Now she was just doing it with her own Olympic medal, with thousands of people watching on Snapchat.

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