Ashley Wagner excited about ‘crazy and insane’ free skate switch

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SOCHI, Russia – Late on a Sunday night last month in Boston, Ashley Wagner was going through a break-up that had left her in tears earlier in the weekend: she was saying so long to her free skate program.

“The break-up with “Romeo and Juliet” was when I fell twice at Nationals,” the American skater told journalists Tuesday night after her first official Olympic practice. “That was a really bad break-up, so I kicked [the program] to the curb and said, ‘You’re done!’ There’s no looking back. I love this new program, I love Delilah the character and I just can’t wait to show everybody.”

Wagner is having the skating equivalent of a shotgun wedding with the “Simon and Delilah” program that she’s replaced “Juliet” with, resurrecting an old flame that she used during the 2012-13 season in hopes of resurrecting her skating form.

“This [program] makes me so competitive,” said Wagner, who fell a total of three times at the U.S. Championships last month and finished fourth. “It raises the hair on my arms and makes me want to go out there and be vicious, and Juliet is not very vicious. I can take names with this program, but with Juliet I couldn’t really say that.”

VIDEO: Watch Wagner’s new routine

Wagner hopes it’s her own name that is in the headlines as Sochi comes to a close in two weeks’ time, and not because of a lapse in performance. Her drop to fourth at Nationals meant the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s selection committee needed to step in and pick her over third-place finisher Mirai Nagasu, a decision it said pointed to Ashley’s body of work over the last year, which includes a top-five finish at the World Championships and three Grand Prix medals.

So with a ticket to Sochi tucked safely into her skate boot, Wagner turned to the thorn in her costumed side: her free skate. She went through a process in three weeks that most skaters give an entire season to let play out, though her “Samson and Delilah” has some her heart, something the “Romeo and Juliet” performance could never win over.

“There’s nothing easy about what I did,” said the 2012 and 2013 national champion. “It’s absolutely crazy and insane that I decided to change it, but I’m passionate about what I do and I’m so driven to get onto that podium. I just felt in my heart that program would not get me there. It is a huge risk, but I’m working with a program that I’m really in love with.”

MORE: Who will represent U.S. in figure skating team event?

Tuesday night Wagner stepped out onto Olympic ice for the first time in her career following a long day that started in Munich and included a stop on the “TODAY Show.” She hit her first triple-triple combination jump with a clean and sturdy landing in the element she fell on in both tries at the U.S. Championships.

“I can’t sugarcoat it, [the triple-triple] is what is going to make or break this competition for almost everyone in this event,” Wagner said at the practice facility. “I need it to be solid and the more I can do it in practice the better I’ll feel under pressure.”

The pressure was what got to her in Boston last month, but Wagner said then that she believes she’ll be more at ease in Sochi. And if her jet-lagged, 18-hour day, late-night practice on Tuesday was any indidcation, she might be right.

“This is what I have been working towards my entire life,” Wagner concluded. “I remember watching Tara Lipinski when I was seven years old and thinking, ‘Hey! That looks fun!’ Since that moment I’ve said I wanted to be an Olympian and here I am.”

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde sweeps Beaver Creek World Cup races

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Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde held off Swiss Marco Odermatt for a second consecutive day to sweep World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this weekend.

Kilde won Sunday’s super-G by two tenths of a second over Odermatt, one day after edging Odermatt by six hundredths. France’s Alexis Pinturault took third as the podium was made up of the last three men to win the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

This season’s overall figures to be a two-man battle between Kilde, the 2019-20 champion, and Odermatt, the reigning champion, and could come down to March’s World Cup Finals. They’ve combined to win the first five of 38 scheduled races.

The top American Sunday was River Radamus, who finished an impressive 16th given his start number was 57. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the Olympic super-G silver medalist, and Travis Ganong, who was third in Beaver Creek last year, both skied out.

The men’s World Cup heads next weekend to Val d’Isere, France, for a giant slalom and slalom.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

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Alpine skiing TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin, Marco Odermatt
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NBC Sports and Peacock combine to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season, including races on the World Cup, which starts this weekend.

Coverage begins with the traditional season-opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, this Saturday and Sunday, streaming live on Peacock.

The first of four stops in the U.S. — the most in 26 years — is Thanksgiving weekend with a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont. The men’s tour visits Beaver Creek, Colorado the following week, as well as Palisades Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado after worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France.

NBC Sports platforms will broadcast all four U.S. stops in the Alpine World Cup season, plus four more World Cups in other ski and snowboard disciplines. All Alpine World Cups in Austria will stream live on Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who last year won her fourth World Cup overall title, is the headliner. Shiffrin, who has 74 career World Cup race victories, will try to close the gap on the only Alpine skiers with more: Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). Shiffrin won an average of five times per season the last three years and is hopeful of racing more often this season.

On the men’s side, 25-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt returns after becoming the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

2022-23 Alpine Skiing World Cup Broadcast Schedule
Schedule will be added to as the season progresses. All NBC Sports TV coverage also streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Date Coverage Network/Platform Time (ET)
Sat., Oct. 22 Women’s GS (Run 1) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 7:05 a.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Men’s GS (Run 1) — Soelden Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden Peacock 7 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 Women’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 6 a.m.
Women’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 12 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 Men’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 10 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 19 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 20 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4:15 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 Men’s DH — Lake Louise (PPD) Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 Women’s GS (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 27 Women’s SL (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 2 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 4 Women’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 1 p.m.
Men’s SG — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sat., Dec. 10 Men’s GS (Run 1) – Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 3:30 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 1) – Sestriere Skiandsnowboard.live 4:30 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) — Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 6:30 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Sestriere Skiandsnowboard.live 7:30 a.m.
Sun., Dec. 11 Men’s SL (Run 1) – Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 3:30 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 1) – Sestriere Skiandsnowboard.live 4:30 a.m.
Men’s SL (Run 2) — Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 6:30 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) – Sestiere Skiandsnowboard.live 7:30 a.m.

*Delayed broadcast.

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