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Wagner goes back to 'Samson and Delilah' free

Skater says she was 'forcing it' with 'Romeo and Juliet' program
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Her 'Romeo and Juliet' free skate was not working out for Ashley Wagner this season, so the skater has decided to bring back her 'Samson and Delilah' program from 2012-13. -Getty Images

Ashley Wagner has fallen out of love with her free skate.

The two-time U.S. champion announced at a media day event Tuesday that she was doing away with her Romeo and Juliet program and returning to the Samson and Delilah free skate she used last season. The story was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

While the timing of the announcement is certainly unexpected, with the start of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games less than three weeks, Wagner said she felt the change was a necessary one.

"Samson and Delilah just provided a sense of comfort and a style of skating that is much more natural to me," she told a gathering of reporters at her rink, the East West Ice Palace in Artesia, Calif. "I felt that I was really forcing it this season with Romeo and Juliet."

Wagner started this season strong, winning silver and gold at her two Grand Prix events, Skate America and Trophée Eric Bompard, respectively. But in her last two outings, she fell a combined three times -- all in the free skate -- including twice at the 2014 U.S. Championships, where she finished fourth.

The new program will combine elements of the one she used last season and her Romeo and Juliet free skate, which was choreographed by David Wilson.

"The general setup of it is Romeo and Juliet, but we took pieces from Samson and Delilah that I really liked, and I liked the character at those moments, and we kind of placed them in methodically," she said Tuesday at her Southern California training center.

Wagner said she originally wanted to revert to last year's free skate before the Grand Prix Final in December, but her coach, Rafael Arutunian, didn't approve. Only after the her subpar showing at the U.S. championships, and an impassioned plea from the skater to the coach, did Arutunian agree to the switch.

"He wasn't happy about it, but I think he was able to see that it wasn't clicking with me. ... He understands and he has been doing an awesome job working with me to get this program as comfortable and as familiar as possible," Wagner told the media.

The first time Wagner will skate the program in competition will be next month at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Whether that's in the new team or ladies event is not known, as the lineups for the former have yet to be announced.

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