RALPHIE REPORT: Medals, memes, and making the global rounds

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First Posted: 3/27/2014

Figure skater Ashley Wagner traveled to Sochi, Russia, competed in the Winter Olympics, and inspired a very popular Internet meme. Her United States team won a Bronze medal.

That sounds like it would invite a busy enough schedule, and surely it did for the 22-year-old, but we are just scratching Wagner’s 2014 itinerary. The college student came home for a month and enjoyed her newfound celebrity status before jetting off again, this time to the World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo. Wagner placed 7th and the U.S. returned without a medal.

Time for a vacation? Think again. Now Wagner gears up for “Stars on Ice,” which begins April 4 in Fort Myers, Fla. The show comes to Hershey’s Giant Center on April 10.

She may be globetrotting from one ice rink to the next, but that does not mean Wagner is of an all-work, no-play mindset.

“Let me just say that I’m ready to just go sit on a beach and not see a sheet of ice for a very long time,” Wagner joked in a phone interview last week on “Ralphie Tonight.” “Olympic seasons are always insane. You never know what to expect.”

The figure skater rattled off a list of obligations, shows, competitions, and the Olympics themselves – extending her season by about a month longer than normal.

“It’s exhausting, but I’m not complaining,” she said. “Most of my friends just graduated college and they’re sitting behind a desk at a job, and I’m skating, so my life is pretty OK.”

We are fairly certain that in addition to the cool gig, none of Wagner’s friends can claim that their reaction on national TV to judges’ scores became the source of a hilarious viral image. A photo of the figure skater’s face after her first Olympic skate became an Internet meme; Wagner’s expression suggested she was not a big fan of their opinions.

“I had no idea that my face became a meme until one of my friends posted on my Facebook wall some BuzzFeed article about me,” she said. “So I think in this day and age, social media is crazy, and the doors it opens up for athletes is amazing.”

Wagner’s parents were not surprised by their daughter’s visible response.

“What you see is what you get with me,” she stated. “I’m feisty, and I have a lot of personality, so it was pretty much just a big eye roll for my family. They said, ‘Ashley, you need to keep yourself out of trouble!’”

She will probably do a better job of that with “Stars on Ice,” a show where Wagner will not be focused on by a panel of judges.

“Performing with ‘Stars on Ice,’ that’s just fun,” she said. “You really can just go skate because you love to skate. I’m lucky that I get to do what I’m absolutely-madly-crazy-passionate about for my job, and ‘Stars On Ice’ is kind of a perfect picture of what I love about figure skating.”

Gold medalists and “Dancing with the Stars” competitors Meryl Davis and Charlie White headline this year’s lineup. Ticket information is available at starsonice.com.

-Listen to “Ralphie Tonight” weeknights from 7 p.m.-midnight on 97 BHT.