"The best part about Ashley is that she's a very strong person," said the skater's choreographer, Irina Romanova.
"When she decides she needs to do something, she'll do it no matter what. It actually sometimes gets in the way, but its one of her best sides."
The 18-year-old will need every ounce of that determination come next Friday, when the ladies take the ice for their short program in Spokane.
"Whoever makes it on to the U.S. Olympic team is going to have two solid, well-put-together programs," Wagner said. "The Olympic year hardest, because there's just so much more pressure. Everyone is watching you.
"There's so much competition among the U.S. ladies now. We're all fighting for two spots, and even second place isn't guaranteed that spot."
U.S. Figure Skating's athlete selection procedure may consider not only the 2010 U.S. Championships, but prior competitions, including the 2009/2010 Grand Prix Final; 2009 World Championships; 2009 Four Continents; 2009 World Junior Championships; and 2009/2010 World Junior Grand Prix Final.
To win a ticket to Vancouver, Wagner knows she needs to deliver a good performance of her Once Upon a Time in America program. Last season in Cleveland, she landed in 12th place after the short, and despite winning the free skate with six clean triples, three in combination, she only climbed to fourth place, missing a spot on the U.S. world team.
"Obviously the short was terrible, and I was surprised," she said. "I didn't see that coming. I was really prepared for nationals. I think after that first jump I just freaked out, even though usually I'm pretty good at keeping my cool.
"After the short I thought about what I wanted to accomplish and what I was capable of doing. I had nothing to lose for the long program so I just went out there. I could skate just for the fun of it."
Wagner, a 2009 graduate of Potomac High School who dreams of becoming a sports psychologist, gained even more experience with her fourth-place finish at this season's Grand Prix Final, where she was the only U.S. lady qualifier.