Wagner wants to defend title, honor of US skating

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Go ahead. Put an entire country's Olympic medal hopes on Ashley Wagner's shoulders. Ask that she single-handedly return the American women to glory in a sport they once ruled.

She can take it.

Since winning her first title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last year, Wagner has shown she's not like the one-hit wonders who preceded her. Rather than cracking under the pressure and expectations, she's thrived, giving the Americans their best shot on the international scene since Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen. After finishing second at the Grand Prix final, Wagner says she's not where she wants to be for the Sochi Olympics, but "I am closer."

Wagner is the overwhelming favorite at nationals, which begin Thursday in Omaha, Neb.