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Wagner, U.S. move into medal position

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Ashley Wagner shook off the controversy that followed her to Sochi and came through in a big way for a U.S. team now in medal contention at a new Olympic event.

Skating to Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," Wagner helped the U.S. move into third place in the team figure skating event with a short program that made U.S. officials look anything but crazy for picking the 22-year-old for the team.

Wagner was chosen over Mirai Nagasu, who skated at the 2010 Olympics and was third at the U.S. championships. Wagner finished fourth but got the nod in a hotly-debated decision that left Nagasu publicly disappointed.

"It was tough going out there after a disappointing nationals so it was important for me to redeem myself." Wagner said. "I got the triple-triple out there, so I'm pleased. It was a different kind of pressure because it's the team event."

Wagner placed fourth out of 10 skaters. Along with Meryl Davis and Charlie White's first-place finish in the short dance, Wagner's performance helped the U.S. make it into the final five after a cut down from 10 teams.

Russia leads the competitions with 47 points, Canada is second with 41 and the U.S. has 34 points going into Sunday, when the medals will be awarded after men's and women's free skates and ice dancing.

The U.S. -- tied for fifth place entering Saturday -- is three points ahead of Italy and four ahead of Japan for the final medal position.

"Now that we're done, it's nice to see the U.S. back on top," said Davis.

She and White are six-time reigning U.S. champions and won the 2010 Olympic silver medal. They scored a 75.98 skating to "I Could Have Danced All Night" to earn 10 points or the U.S.

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the reigning Olympic champions, finished second and Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev were third.

U.S. Figure Skating denied a French report Saturday saying there was a deal between the American and Russian teams to help each other win gold medals in Sochi.

The sports newspaper L'Equipe, citing an unnamed Russian coach, reported that Russia would help Davis and White win the ice dance competition in exchange for help in winning the pairs and team events.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that the comments in the story were "categorically false."

"There is no 'help' between countries," it said. "We have no further response to rumors, anonymous sources or conjecture."

In the last skate, U.S. duo Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir finished fourth for the U.S. in the pairs free program after Castelli landed with two feet on a quadruple Salchow throw.

"I had a glitch," she said. "But one mistake does not break a program. We were finally able to pull it all together."

Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch ended second in the program behind Russians Ksenia Stolbova Fedor Klimov.

Wagner finished behind Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia, Carolina Kostner of Italy and Mao Asada of Japan. Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond was fifth.