2018 US Nationals Senior Pairs Free Skate

GROUP 3

Castelli/Tran: TES + PCS = Total:

Pfund/Santillan: 53.46 TES + 49.64 PCS = 103.10  Total: 163.62 and into 2nd place

  • Triple twist two footed the landing and a bit crashy
  • Side by side triple toe + double toe
  • Nice stretched out split position for her in the first lift
  • Side by side triple salchows he stepped out
  • Nice death spiral position
  • A bit slow on the pairs spin and the second position she is in a bit of an awkward position
  • Dance lift right into a throw triple loop right on the music
  • Throw triple salchow she steps out of it and lands it pretty low
  • A bit off on the timing of the side by side spin
  • Really struggling to hold up their final lift and he literally was holding her up by her dress
  • The last lift they received no credit for and that’s really going to hurt their scores
  • Level 4 on their first lift and pairs spin

Cain/LeDuc: 64.19 TES + 62.92 PCS = 127.11  Total: 187.14 and into 1st place

  • Triple twist a bit crashy on the catch
  • Triple salchow + double toe + double loop a bit off on their timing but they landed it and that’s a huge point getter
  • She was so off on the air in the throw triple flip but someone hangs on and only has to put a hand down
  • Side by side triple loop under-rotated
  • Nice spiral into their second lift with a good platter position for her and a flip out
  • They have some really nice lines highlighted by the side by side spirals
  • Great throw triple salchow with a long ride out
  • Interesting entrance to the death spiral but she could be a bit lower to the ice
  • What I love about this team is that they are so balanced.  They both perform and have great lines
  • Great position for her in the carry position looking right over the ice
  • Stepping down and right into the pairs spin but a bit slow
  • Level 4 on their second lift and both spins

Liu/Johnson: TES + PCS = Total: 167.47 and into 3rd place

  • I remember when Chelsea Liu was so tiny her partner had trouble keeping her on the ice in the pairs spin
  • She falls on the opening side by side triple salchow
  • Triple twist with a  pretty decent catch
  • She singled the axel
  • Backward entry to the lasso lift into a nice extension position and then changing legs with the position change
  • Spiral into death spiral
  • Throw triple flip and she never has a chance to get her legs under neath her and fell
  • A bit far apart on the side by side spins and off on their timing
  • Nice press into their Group 4 lift
  • Really nice positions in their pairs spin
  • Almost had the throw triple salchow but had to put her hands down
  • Really cool curve move from him with her laying on her blades in the choreographic sequence
  • Love the moment where she completely twists around his body while he skates backwards in an arabesque spiral
  • She has gorgeous positions in the lifts with a great arch though the carry feature
  • Lifts are definitely a huge highlight for them
  • They received no credit for the axel
  • Triple salchow was under-rotated
  • Level 4 twist, lifts, side by side spin

 

GROUP 4

Stellato/Bartholomay: TES + PCS = Total: 129.81 Total: 197.65 and into 1st place

  • Nice triple twist
  • Side by side triple salchows she put a hand down and he falls
  • Quad salchow throw fall
  • Triple toe + double toe nicely synched even though she landed the first jump with her shoulders down
  • Nice stretched position for her in the first lift
  • Really pretty death spiral position
  • Throw triple loop and I don’t know how she hung on to that
  • She is just such a joy to watch on the ice and you can tell they truly love being out there…ther is nothing fake about their performance
  • Great speed, positioning and unison on their side by side spins
  • Really nice transition to a backbend in the air over his hand on the final lift
  • Their combo was under-rorated
  • They earned Level 4 on their lifts and spins

Denney/Frazier: TES + PCS = Total:122.69 Total: 186.32 and into 3rd place

  • Good triple twist with a nice hesitation in the air before the rotation
  • Great throw triple loop
  • Triple salchow she puts hand down + single toe really far apart
  • She stumbles out of an under-rotated triple toe
  • Spiral stepping right up into a lift with great stretched air position from her
  • Throw triple salchow might have been a tad two footed
  • Nice unison on their side by side spins though the first half
  • Triple toes were downgraded
  • Level 4 on their side by side spin and final lift

Kayne/O’Shea: 65.23 TES +67.64  PCS -1.00 = 131.87 Total: 200.80 and into 1st place

  • Triple twist caught on his shoulder
  • Side by side triple salchow
  • Awesome back flip over shoulder dance lift into a throw triple salchow
  • Lasso lift into a nice fish position
  • Pretty good timing on the double axel + double axel sequence but she turns out of the second jump
  • Throw triple flip she toe picked in awkwardly and fell
  • Such a nice death spiral position
  • Really great exit from their second to last lift twisting down to almost touching the ice
  • Press up to one hand hold carry with her arching back for their final lift
  • Double axel was under-rotated
  • Level 4 on their lifts and spins

Scimeca-Knierim/Knierim: 66.50 TES + 70.00 PCS -1.00 = 135.50 Total: 206.60 and into 1st place

  • Big quad twist, two footed the landing
  • Gorgeous huge throw triple salchow
  • Side by side triple salchow he steps out and she steps out then falls
  • Side by side double toe + single toe (he doubles the first, she singles the second)
  • Triple flip throw not sure how she managed to hold on to that landing
  • A bit far apart on their side by side spins and very slow
  • While their lifts are technically fine and are achieving Level 4 I feel like they don’t have the dramatic impact that some of the other teams have that just makes you stop and go wow
  • Triple salchow was downgraded
  • Level 4 lifts and spins
  • They earned positive GOEs on everything but the side by side jumps
Place Start Name Short Program Free Skate Total Score
Place Score Place Score
1 15 Alexa Scimeca-Knierim, DuPage FSC
Christopher Knierim, Broadmoor SC
1 71.10 1 135.50 206.60
2 14 Tarah Kayne, Southwest Florida FSC
Danny O’Shea, Southwest Florida FSC
2 68.93 2 131.87 200.80
3 12 Deanna Stellato-Dudek, Southwest Florida FSC
Nathan Bartholomay, Southwest Florida FSC
3 67.84 3 129.81 197.65
4 10 Ashley Cain, SC of New York
Timothy LeDuc, Los Angeles FSC
8 60.03 4 127.11 187.14
5 13 Haven Denney, SC of New York
Brandon Frazier, All Year FSC
4 63.63 5 122.69 186.32
6 8 Marissa Castelli, SC of Boston
Mervin Tran, SC of Boston
6 60.75 6 121.63 182.38
7 11 Chelsea Liu, Orange County FSC
Brian Johnson, Detroit SC
5 62.35 9 105.12 167.47
8 9 Jessica Pfund, Southwest Florida FSC
Joshua Santillan, All Year FSC
7 60.52 10 103.10 163.62
9 6 Jessica Calalang, DuPage FSC
Zack Sidhu, Las Vegas FSC
12 50.43 7 111.80 162.23
10 7 Erika Choi Smith, SC of New York
AJ Reiss, Los Angeles FSC
11 50.95 8 108.08 159.03
11 5 Nica Digerness, Broadmoor SC
Danny Neudecker, Seattle SC
9 53.78 11 100.32 154.10
12 4 Winter Deardorff, Northern Kentucky SC
Max Settlage, Broadmoor SC
10 51.15 13 94.51 145.66
13 3 Caitlin Fields, Indiana World Sk Acad FSC
Ernie Utah Stevens, Indiana World Sk Acad FSC
13 45.49 12 96.63 142.12
14 2 Alexandria Yao, Peninsula SC
Jacob Simon, Skokie Valley SC
15 40.97 14 87.15 128.12
15 1 Allison Timlen, Columbia FSC (MD)
Justin Highgate-Brutman, St. Clair Shores FSC
14 41.70 15 84.35 126.05

2018 US Nationals Senior Pairs Preview

As a group, these teams have won 19 nationals medals.  They have won three Four Continents medals, and Denney and Frazier are former World Junior Champions.  This group earned three medals on the Challenger circuit.  The entire podium from last season along with the 5th-7th place finishers will be competing here along with last season’s Junior Champions, who are moving up to compete as seniors.  The short program will  be held on Thursday, January 4th with the free skate on Saturday, January 6th.

To be competitive internationally, these teams will need at least one quad, either a twist or a throw.  The standards for side by side jumps have also increased with many teams attempting triple flips or lutzes and even triple + triple combinations.  They’ll need 70+ points in the short program, 132+ points in the free skate, and 198+ points overall.

There is only one pairs spot on the Olympic team, and while none of the US teams are in contention for an Olympic medal, as none of them have any top 10 scores this season, they will have a spot for the US team event and have a great chance of walking away with a medal from that.

For the US pairs, the key is going to be the side by side jumps.  A consistent issue this season was botching at least one if not all of the side by side jumps for a team in an entire competition.  This included major issues like singling jumps, downgrading, and falling.

Scimeca-Knierim and Knierim missed nationals and most of last season as she recovered from surgery, but they were still the top US team at Worlds.  At NHK Trophy, they landed their side by side triple salchows, but they were messy.  They also had a throw triple flip with Level 4 spin and lift and Level 3 triple twist and step sequence.  Their program components were in the mid to high 7s.  Their free skate had messy side by side triple salchows and a double toe + double toe sequence with throw triple salchow and throw triple flip.  They received Level 4 on their lifts and death spiral, with Level 3 on their triple twist and spins.  Their program components were in the high 7s to low 8s.  At Skate America, they doubled their salchows and fell, but the rest of the program was clean, earning nearly 6 points on GOEs.  The only mistake on their free skate was a fall on doubled salchows.  Otherwise their program was clean with positive GOEs, totaling 10 points.

Castelli and Tran are in a unique position as they cannot compete at the Olympics as he does not have US citizenship.  However, there are three spots at Four Continents and two at Worlds up for grabs.  They could potentially be sent to one or both of those and don’t have the added pressure of competing for the Olympic team.  At Rostelecom Cup, she fell on a throw triple salchow and they doubled their side by side salchows in the short program.  They earned Level 4 on their lift, spin, and death spiral, with Level 3 on the step sequence and triple twist.  Their program components were in the high 6s to low 7s.  They botched both their side by side jumps in their free skate, doubling their toe and missing the combo on their downgraded triple salchow.  They did complete a throw triple flip and a throw triple salchow.  They received Level 4 on their lifts and spins with Level 3 on the death spiral and triple twist.  Their program components were in the low to mid 7s.  At the Internationaux de France, their side by side triple toes were downgraded .  Their program components were better in the low to mid 7s.  Their free skate had an under-rotated triple toe and a missing combo on their downgraded salchow.

Denney and Frazier are the reigning National Champions, but performed so badly at last year’s Worlds, the US lost a spot for pairs at the Olympics.  At Skate Canada, they had a throw triple loop and under-rotated side by side triple salchows in their short program.  They earned Level 4 on their lift and death spiral, with Level 3 on their twist, spin, and step sequence.  Their program components were in the mid 7s.  Their free skate had a throw triple loop and a throw triple salchow but they botched both their side by side jumps: under-rotating and falling on a triple salchow + double toe combo and singling a triple toe.  They received Level 4 on two of their lifts, with Level 3 on their triple twist, side by side spin, and last lift.  Their program components were in the low to mid 7s.  At Skate America, their triple salchows were under-rotated.  In the free skate, they fell on under-rotated triple salchows and missed the combo and doubled their toes.

Cain and LeDuc won the bronze medal last season in just their first season together.  At Cup of China, they landed a triple lutz throw but had their side by side triple loops downgraded after a fall.  They received Level 4 on their spin and Level 3 on their step sequence.  Their program components were in the high 6s to low 7s.  Their free skate also had issues on the side by side jumps with a singled loop and a fall on their intended triple salchow combination.  They did land a throw triple lutz and throw triple salchow, although both received negative GOEs.  They earned Level 4 on two lifts and their pairs spin with Level 3 on the side by side spin and their Level 3 lift.  Their program components were in the high 6s.  At Lombardia Trophy, they went for side by side triple flips in their short program, which were judged under-rotated.  In the free skate, they did better on their combination jump, singling the salchow, but hitting the triple toe + triple loop.  They also received better Levels on some of their jumps, but lower levels on others.  Their program components were better, in the low to mid 7s.

Stellato and Bartholomay finished 4th at nationals last year after she returned to competition after a decades long hiatus.  At the US International Figure Skating Classic, they landed side by side triple toes and a throw triple loop.  They received Level 4 on their spin and lift, with Level 3 on everything else.  Their program components were in the mid to high 6s.  Their free skate had under-rotated triple lutzes with a fall and a missed triple toe combination.  They did attempt a quad salchow combination which was fully rotated but she fell and they also had a throw triple loop.  They received Level 4 on their lifts and spins with Level 3 on their twist.  Their program components were in the mid 6s to low 7s.  They also fell on the quad salchow at Finlandia Trophy.  They skated a fairly clean short program at Skate America, but were held down by their program components.  They dropped to a triple salchow throw at Skate America which was successful, but they under-rotated a triple salchow and fell.

Liu and Johnson competed at two Challenger Series events, and even placed ahead of Scimeca and Knierim in the short program at the US International Figure Skating Classic.  At that event, they landed side by side triple salchows and a throw triple salchow.  They received Level 4 on their spin and lift with Level 3 on everything else.  They had all positive GOEs and their program components were in the mis to high 6s.  In the free skate, they missed the second half of their triple salchow combination but did land side by side double axels in addition to a throw triple flip and throw triple salchow.  They earned Level 4 for their lifts and spins, with Level 3 on their triple twist.  They had program components in the low to mid 7s.  At the Warsaw Cup, they doubled the salchows in their short program, fell on their throw triple salchow, and missed their pairs spin.  Their free skate again missed the triple salchow combination and under-rotated the double axel.

Kayne and O’Shea had to withdraw from nationals last season and weren’t able to compete again until December.  At Golden Spin, they fell on a side by side triple salchow but landed a throw triple salchow.  They had an under-rotated triple twist but earned Level 4 on their spin, lift, and death spiral, with Level 3 on the step sequence.  Their program components were in the low to mid 5s.  Their free skate had three falls, including the side by side triple salchow, throw triple flip, and double axel + double axel sequence.  They also doubled their throw salchow.  They received Level 4 for their lifts with Level 3 on the death spiral and spins.  Their program components were in the high 6s to mid 7s.

Scimeca and Knierim have said that they are adding the quad twists to their programs which will give them an even greater technical advantage.  They have been executing a Level 3 triple twist (no US pair has hit Level 4) worth 6.2 points base value.  A +3 GOE twist would be worth 8.30 points.  A basic level quad twist is worth a base value of 7.0 points, while a Level 3 quad twist is worth 8.60 points base value.  If they hope to compete with the top teams internationally, they’ll need the quad, as fairly clean skates at Skate America still left them back from the podium and outside of the top 10 internationally.

Stellato and Bartholomew went to a throw triple salchow at Skate America, but they have been hitting fully rotated quad salchows.  If they go for the quad salchow, it has a base value of 8.20 points.  A fall makes the jump worth 4.20 points.  In contrast, the triple salchow is worth a base value of 4.50 points and they earned 5.00 points after positive GOEs at Skate America.  Given this small difference, I would say the risk is worth it especially since it’s been fully rotated.

The difference in base value in the side by side jumps is virtually moot as most teams haven’t hit their jumps in competition.  Castelli/Tran and Stellato/Bartholomay have never hit their combination jumps in their free skate this season.

Interestingly, Cain and LeDuc are going for an easier Group 5 lift, which has a full point less of base value than the other teams are executing.  Denney and Frazier have never hit Level 4 on the group 3 lift in their free skate, costing them a half point.

Scimeca Knierim and Knierim are the only team to hit 8s internationally on program components.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Scimeca Knierim/Knierim

Silver: Castelli/Tran

Bronze: Denney/Frazier

Pewter: Cain/LeDuc

 

Bios of the competitors:

Cain/LeDuc: She is 22 and represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 27 and represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  They finished 9th at Four Continents last season.  They placed 6th at Cup of China.  They placed 4th at Lombardia Trophy and 7th at Nebelhorn Trophy.  They are the reigning Bronze Medalists.

Castelli/Tran: She is 27 and he is 27 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They placed 7th at Rostelecom Cup and 6th at Internationaux de France.  They placed 4th at the Autumn Classic International.  They are the reigning Silver Medalists, 2016 Bronze Medalists, and finished 6th in 2015.

Calalang/Sidhu: She is 22 and represents the DuPage Figure Skating Club and he is 26 and represents the Las Vegas Figure Skating Club.  They placed 6th at Autumn Classic International and 7th at Finlandia Trophy.  They finished 5th in 2016, 5th in 2015, 11th in 2014, are the 2013 Junior Silver Medalists, 2012 Junior Pewter Medalists and finished 8th in juniors in 2011.

Deardorff/Settlage:

Denney/Frazier: She is 22 and represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 25 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club.  They placed 20th at Worlds and 8th at Four Continents last season.  They finished 7th at Skate Canada and 7th at Skate America.  They placed 4th at the US International Figure Skating Classic.  They are the 2013 World Junior Champions.  They are the reigning Champions, 2015 Silver Medalists, finished 5th in 2014, 5th in 2013, are the 2012 Junior Champions and 2008 Intermediate Bronze Medalists.

Digerness/Neudecker: She is 17 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club and he is 21 and represents the Seattle Skating Club.  They finished 10th at Junior Worlds last season.  They are the reigning Junior Champions and placed 7th in novice in 2016.

Esposito/Newby-Estrella: She represents the Colonial Figure Skating Club and he represents the Dallas Figure Skating Club.  They won silver at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Fields/Stevens: She is 22 and he is 24 and they represent the Indiana World Figure Skating Academy Figure Skating Club.  They finished 11th in 2016 and are the 2015 Junior Champions.

Kayne/O’Shea: She is 24 and he is 26 and they represent the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They won bronze at Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They are the 2016 Champions, 2015 Bronze Medalists, placed 6th in 2014, and 7th in 2013.

Liu/Johnson: She is 18 and represents the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and he is 22 and represents the Detroit Skating Club.  They finished 7th at Junior Worlds last season.  They won bronze at the US International Figure Skating Classic and placed 6th at Warsaw Cup.  They finished 6th last season and are the 2015 Junior Silver Medalists.

Pfund/Santillan: She is 20 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club and he is 25 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club.  They finished 4th at Ondrej Nepela Trophy and 5th at Warsaw Cup.  They placed 5th last season and 7th in 2016.

Scimeca-Knierim/Knierim: She is 26 and represents the DuPage Figure Skating Club and he is 30 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They placed 10th at Worlds and 6th at Four Continents last season.  They placed 5th at NHK Trophy and 5th at Skate America.  They won silver at the US International Figure Skating Classic.  They are the 2016 Four Continents Silver Medalists and 2014 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They are the 2016 Silver Medalists, 2015 Champions, 2014 Pewter Medalists and 2013 Silver Medalists.

Smith/Reiss: She is 28 and represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 25 and represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  They placed 6th at Ondrej Nepela Trophy.  They finished 7th last season and 6th in 2016.

Stellato/Bartholomay: She is 34 and he is 28 and they represent the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They finished 8th at Skate America.  They placed 6th at the US International Figure Skating Classic and 6th at Finlandia Trophy.  They are the reigning Pewter Medalists.

Timlen/Highgate-Brutman: She represents the Columbia Figure Skating Club of Maryland and he represents the St Clair Shores Figure Skating Club.  They won gold at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Yao/Simon: She is 17 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 20 and represents the Skokie Valley Figure Skating Club.  They finished 11th at JGP Poland.

2016-2017 Top Senior Pairs U.S. Qualifying Scores

Short Program

  1. Cain/LeDuc: 69.33 (US Nationals)
  2. Denney/Frazier: 65.39 (US Nationals)
  3. Stellato-Dudek/Bartholomay: 65.04 (US Nationals)
  4. Castelli/Tran: 64.29 (US Nationals)
  5. Kayne/O’Shea: 61.80 (US Nationals)
  6. Smith/Reiss: 59.30 (US Nationals)
  7. Pfund/Santillan: 58.05 (US Nationals)
  8. Liu/Johnson: 57.02 (US Nationals)
  9. Weinberg/Fernandez: 51.12 (Eastern Sectional)
  10. Shaughnessy/Morgan: 48.64 (US Nationals)

Free Skate

  1. Denney/Frazier: 122.93 (US Nationals)
  2. Castelli/Tran: 121.99 (US Nationals)
  3. Cain/LeDuc: 115.08 (US Nationals)
  4. Pfund/Santillan: 110.85 (US Nationals)
  5. Stellato-Dudek/Bartholomay: 108.80 (Eastern Sectional)
  6. Liu/Johnson: 102.94 (US Nationals)
  7. Smith/Reiss: 100.29 (US Nationals)
  8. Weinberg/Fernandez: 98.54 (Eastern Sectional)
  9. Fujimoto/Barsi-Rhyne: 94.06 (US Nationals)
  10. Shaughnessy/Morgan: 89.38 (Eastern Sectional)

Total (one score per team listed)

  1. Denney/Frazier: 188.32 (US Nationals)
  2. Castelli/Tran: 186.28 (US Nationals)
  3. Cain/LeDuc: 184.41 (US Nationals)
  4. Stellato-Dudek/Bartholomay: 173.50 (US Nationals)
  5. Pfund/Santillan: 168.90 (US Nationals)
  6. Liu/Johnson: 159.96 (US Nationals)
  7. Smith/Reiss: 159.59 (US Nationals)
  8. Weinberg/Fernandez: 149.66 (Eastern Sectional)
  9. Fujimoto/Barsi-Rhyne: 138.90 (US Nationals)
  10. Shaughnessy/Morgan: 137.34 (Eastern Sectional)

Total (multiple scores per team listed)

  1. Denney/Frazier: 188.32 (US Nationals)
  2. Castelli/Tran: 186.28 (US Nationals)
  3. Cain/LeDuc: 184.41 (US Nationals)
  4. Stellato-Dudek/Bartholomay: 173.50 (US Nationals)
  5. Pfund/Santillan: 168.90 (US Nationals)
  6. Stellato-Dudek/Bartholomay: 161.20 (Eastern Sectional)
  7. Liu/Johnson: 159.96 (US Nationals)
  8. Smith/Reiss: 159.59 (US Nationals)
  9. Weinberg/Fernandez: 149.66 (Eastern Sectional)
  10. Fujimoto/Barsi-Rhyne: 138.90 (US Nationals)
  11. Shaughnessy/Morgan: 137.34 (Eastern Sectional)
  12. Weinberg/Fernandez: 132.57 (US Nationals)
  13. Green/Newby-Estrella: 111.20 (Midwestern Sectional)
  14. Fields/Stevens: 37.72 (Midwestern Sectional)

2017 US Nationals Senior Pairs Results

Place Start Name Short Program Free Skate Total Score
Place Score Place Score
1 11 Haven Denney, SC of New York
Brandon Frazier, All Year FSC
2 65.39 1 122.93 188.32
2 9 Marissa Castelli, SC of Boston
Mervin Tran, SC of Boston
4 64.29 2 121.99 186.28
3 10 Ashley Cain, SC of New York
Timothy LeDuc, Los Angeles FSC
1 69.33 3 115.08 184.41
4 8 Deanna Stellato-Dudek, Southwest Florida FSC
Nathan Bartholomay, Southwest Florida FSC
3 65.04 5 108.46 173.50
5 6 Jessica Pfund, Southwest Florida FSC
Joshua Santillan, All Year FSC
7 58.05 4 110.85 168.90
6 7 Chelsea Liu, St. Paul FSC
Brian Johnson, Detroit SC
8 57.02 6 102.94 159.96
7 5 Erika Smith, SC of New York
AJ Reiss, Los Angeles FSC
6 59.30 7 100.29 159.59
8 3 Cali Fujimoto, Peninsula SC
Nicholas Barsi-Rhyne, Southwest Florida FSC
10 44.84 8 94.06 138.90
9 1 Joy Weinberg, Southwest Florida FSC
Maximiliano Fernandez, Southwest Florida FSC
11 42.71 9 89.86 132.57
WD Tarah Kayne, Southwest Florida FSC
Danny O’Shea, Southwest Florida FSC
5 61.80
WD Alexandria Shaughnessy, SC of Boston
James Morgan, SC of Boston
9 48.64
WD Jacquelyn Green, Detroit SC
Rique Newby-Estrella, Dallas FSC

Cain and LeDuc find perfect timing on and off the ice

If you’ve followed pairs skating over the last few years, you’re familiar with the names Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc.  Both have been missing from the pairs circuit for a while, but a chance phone call have brought these two to their first nationals together as a team.

Cain is an experienced singles skater, competing on the Grand Prix in senior ladies and winning a silver medal in the junior level at Nationals.  She is also a former US Junior Pairs Champion, finishing as high as 4th at Junior Worlds and competed on the Grand Prix.  LeDuc is a bronze medal winner in the junior level at Nationals in pairs and competed in the senior level until 2014.

They have some ambitious content for a first year team, including a triple twist in both programs and they have the most difficult side by side jump combination in the pairs event with a double axel + single loop + triple salchow.

They competed three times on the Challenger Series circuit and even took home the bronze medal from Golden Spin.  They’ve beaten out some tough competition, including 2015 US Silver Medalists Denney and Frazier at Golden Spin and 2016 US Champions Kayne and O’Shea at Finlandia Trophy.  They are in the conversation for the podium at Kansas City and could even be considered a dark horse to win it all.

How did you two pair up this season?

LeDuc (TL): I spent the last two years performing in ice shows aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships, and after my contract finished in March I decided to return to competitive skating.  I contacted Mitch Moyer (USFSA High Performance Director) and he suggested that I tryout with Ashley.

Cain (AC): I received a call from Mitch Moyer while I was on the ice training one day.  He said that Timothy was coming back to competitive skating and he felt that we would be a good match.  After that everything happened so quickly and by the next week Timothy had moved to Dallas and we got to work.

Ashley—in 2013 you were focusing on your singles career but said that you hadn’t ruled out competing in pairs in the future.  What made you decide that now was the time to return to pairs?

AC: Many people thought that when Josh [Reagan] and I split up, it was because I was going to focus on my singles career. This was not the case, and when we split I felt a little lost.  I relied on myself and focused on my singles career.  I missed pairs but I was becoming a successful singles skater nationally and internationally. When I got the call from Mitch it was completely unexpected and I knew it would be a big commitment and decision in my career.  I was also unsure if my body could do it but the thought of doing pairs again sparked a huge excitement in me.  I feel like Timothy came into my life at the perfect time.  We both have the same goals and we enjoy what we are doing.

Timothy—you haven’t competed at nationals since 2014 and have been involved in show skating.  What made you decide you wanted to compete again?

TL: Good question.  After the 2014 season, I was pretty burned out and lacking the necessary funds to continue training.  I still loved skating though and found a way to save up money for training while still doing what I loved.  Show skating is so much fun and I think every skater should pursue it at some point in their career.  I had a blast on ships and now I’m very happy to be competing again with Ashley.

How would you describe yourselves as a team?

Though it’s our first year, we are trying to make our mark in American pairs by using our height and long lines to set us apart. We are also pushing ourselves technically by trying harder side-by-side jumps. 

Tell me about yourselves outside of skating.

TL: I’m still adjusting to my new life on land and in Texas, so I mostly just skate and coach right now. 

AC: Because we are gearing up for Nationals, all of my time has been dedicated to the ice, off ice training, and my off ice recovery.  After skating I coach for about 2 hours every other day.  When I have more free time I like to go out to my boyfriend’s ranch and ride dirt bikes, horses, four wheelers, and just relax. I like to go hiking, watch Netflix, cook, and play with my puppy.

Tell me about your programs this season.

Both of our programs were choreographed by Serge Onik, from Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.  Our short program was designed to showcase our sassy and fierce side while our free skate is a display of our lyrical and effervescent style.

What is the most difficult element for you in your programs? What is your favorite element to complete?

Our most challenging element comes at the beginning of our programs: the triple twist.  It is a new element for us and we have been working hard on it.  It’s an element that we feel will improve a lot in the off season but right now we our increasing the consistency of it in the program and working on a cleaner catch.  Our favorite element is the footwork in our short program because we can let loose and be as fierce as we want.

You both have competed at nationals as singles skaters and medaled in pairs with previous partners.  Do you think that experience helps you headed in to nationals even though you’re a new team?

This is only our sixth competition and our sixth month together so we are keeping in mind that we are a very new team.  Synergy is such an important part of pair skating and we’ve been fortunate to develop a great deal of it in a short amount of time, and I think our prior experiences have assisted with that greatly.

You had the chance to compete at three Challenger Series events this year, and won the bronze medal at Golden Spin.  How did your partnership and programs grow through those three events?

Each competition bears a chance to gain experience as a team, and we took our experiences each time we competed to help us do better the next time.  We learned how to compete together quickly because we had so many competitions so early in our partnership.  We also put new elements out every competition so we constantly had a new trick to focus on.  A new partnership has so many challenges to work out that you have to triage the workload, but at each competition our speed, consistency, relation to each other and endurance improved.

Were you surprised at how successful you’ve been as a team given that your partnership is still so new?

We have many years of prior pair experience between us so we haven’t been surprised that our skating has come along as quickly as it has.  We have been very pleased and grateful with the number of international competitions that USFS has given us this season.

Have you made any changes to your programs for nationals?

We plan to attempt the same technical elements as we did in The Golden Spin of Zagreb, however we’ve made tweaks to our choreography to better display our strengths and our relation to each other.

What are your goals for nationals? For next season?

We’ve made great strides forward at each competition this season so we would like to continue that trend. We are keeping our focus on ourselves and our own personal goals as a team without too much focus on results.

Is there anything else you want people to know?

We have a really great team of skaters to train with in Texas.  We train with Alex Krasnozhon (junior men’s), Amber Glenn (senior ladies) and Brooklee Han (senior ladies, Australia).  We have a great vibe in our rink, everyone is really positive and makes a great effort to support and push each other.  It has really helped all of us progress quickly because we are all so supportive.  We also have a great team of coaches: Peter and Darlene Cain, Pierre Panayi (stroking), Serge Onik (choreographer), Michael Leeke (video analysis), Denyse Frey (costume designer), and Carly and Eric Pierce (our PTs).

2017 US Nationals Senior Pairs Preview

After a slew of withdrawals, only 12 pairs teams are competing at this event and the field is wide open.  As a group, these teams have won 11 nationals medals.  Denney and Frazier were the only team to win a medal on the Grand Prix this season and they are former World Junior Champions.  Liu and Johnson won a Junior Grand Prix medal.  Kayne and O’Shea are former Four Continents medalists.  This group earned four medals on the Challenger circuit.  The 1st, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th place finishers will be competing here along with the junior 1st and 5th place finishers, who are moving up to compete as seniors.  The short program will  be held on Thursday, January 19th with the free skate on Saturday, January 21st.

To be competitive internationally, these teams will need at least one quad, either a twist or a throw.  The standards for side by side jumps have also increased with many teams attempting triple flips or lutzes and even triple + triple combinations.

Denney and Frazier won the sole Grand Prix medal for the US in pairs this season at Skate Amercica.  They have the 10th best free skate and 9th best total scores internationally.  They were not able to compete at all last season after she had to have major knee surgery.  While they started off strong, their placements and scores began to drop as the season progressed.  Their short program includes a Level 3 triple twist, throw triple loop, side by side triple salchow and Level 4 Group 5 Axel lift.  Their free skate includes a Level 3 triple twist, throw triple loop, side by side triple salchow + double toe, side by side double axel, throw triple salchow, Level 4 Group 5 Axel lift, Level 4 Group 5 Reverse Lasso lift, and Level 4 Group 3 lift.  At best, they received Level 4 on all of their spins, Level 2 on the death spiral, +6.5 points from GOE and had program components ranging from 7.75-8.18.  Their side by side jumps were the element that gave them the most trouble throughout the season and they had difficult executing them cleanly at their events.

Castelli and Tran have the 10th best short program score internationally, but it was set way back at the Autumn Classic International, and they haven’t been able to replicate it.  They have the 17th best total score internationally for juniors and seniors combined.  Their short program includes a Level 2 triple twist, side by side triple salchow, throw triple salchow, and Level 4 Group 5 Reverse Lasso Lift.  Their free skate includes a Level 2 triple twist, Level 4 Group 5 Reverse Lasso lift, side by side triple toes, throw triple lutz/flip, side by side triple salchow (combination but never completed), Level 4 Group 3 lift, Level 4 Group 5 Axel lift and throw triple salchow.  At best, they earned Level 4 on their spins and Level 3 on the death spiral.  Their best program components ranged from 7.46-7.61.  They had some Level issues throughout the season and could not maintain their desired levels between events.  Their Levels changed so much, that they received nearly identical technical scores between events even though some elements earned them as much as an additional two points by increasing the Level.

Kayne and O’Shea are the reigning US Champions.  They were the underdog going into nationals last season, but put out two squeaky clean performances to take home the title.  With the Knierims withdrawing, they should be the clear favorite for the title, but they haven’t been able to skate cleanly and make an impact on the standings internationally this season.  They have the 19th best total score internationally for juniors and seniors combined.  Their short program includes a Level 1 triple twist, side by side triple salchows, throw triple lutz, and Level 4 Group 5 Axel lift.  Their free skate includes a Level 2 triple twist, side by side triple salchow, throw triple lutz, Level 4 Group 5 Reverse Lasso lift, double axel + double axel sequence, throw triple salchow, Level 4 Group 3 lift, and Level 4 Group 5 Axel lift.  They received Level 3 and 4 on their spins and up to Level 4 on their death spiral.  They generally earned about a point from GOEs with program components ranging from 7.18-7.36.  Their side by side jumps were the most difficult element for them to skate cleanly, and they had several falls on the throw triple lutz.  They also had several issues with lifts dropping Levels at NHK Trophy.  Like Castelli and Tran, they had nearly identical TES and PCS marks across events as some elements would improve and others would be worse, balancing out the gains.

Cain and LeDuc are a new team this season, but they are already making big waves.  They have competed three times on the Challenger Series circuit and even took home the bronze medal from Golden Spin, beating Denney and Frazier.  They also went head to head against Kayne and O’Shea at Finlandia Trophy, and placed ahead of them as well.  They have the 20th best total score internationally for juniors and seniors combined.  Cain is an experienced singles skater, competing on the Grand Prix in senior ladies and winning a silver medal at the junior level at Nationals.  She is also a former US Junior Pairs Champion, finishing as high as 4th at Junior Worlds and competing on the Grand Prix.  LeDuc is a bronze medal winner in the junior level at Nationals and competed in the senior level until 2014.  Their short program includes a Basic triple twist, side by side triple loop, Level 3 Group 5 Axel lift, and throw triple lutz.  Their free skate has a Level 1 triple twist, side by side triple loop, Level 4 Group 5 Axel lift, side by side double axel + single loop + triple salchow, throw triple lutz, throw triple salchow, Level 3 Group 5 Step in Lasso lift, and Level 4 Group 3 lift.  At Golden Spin, they received Level 3 on one spin but no credit on their pairs spin.  They earned 4 points from GOE and had program components ranging from 6.95-7.40.

Pfund and Santillan competed at Cup of China this season.  Their short program has a Level 2 double twist, side by side triple salchow, throw triple loop and Level 3 Group 5 Reverse Lasso lift.  Their free skate has a side by side triple toe, Level 2 double twist, Level 4 Group 5 Axel lift, throw triple salchow, Level 3 Group 5 Reverse Lasso lift, side by side triple salchow + double toe combination, throw triple loop and Level 4 Group 3 lift.  They earned Level 4 on their spins but did not receive credit for their death spiral.  They lost 4 points from GOE and received program components ranging from 6.21-6.57.  The most encouraging part about this outing is that despite having three falls, they still lost only 4 points on the whole program from GOE.  Their program components also weren’t that much lower than the rest of the US field and the falls would cause those scores to be significantly lower.

Liu and Johnson competed mostly as juniors this season, winning the bronze medal at JGP Estonia.  They did have the chance to compete as seniors at the Warsaw Cup where they won a silver medal.  They have the 8th best short program, 8th best free skate and 8th best total scores internationally as juniors.

Stellato and Bartholomay are a new team competing at nationals for the first time.  They had an impressive showing at nationals where they skated mostly clean, except for a fall on their side by side combo jump in the free skate.  They only have a double twist, and that costs them over 2 points per program in base technical value.

Most of these teams have similar base values for their jumps, throws, and lifts.  The teams above have base values ranging from 19.8 to 23.1 in the short program and 41.9-45.3 in the free skate.  These scores are even closer if you remove the two teams that do not have a triple twist in their programs.

None of these teams have any significant international successes this season or have skated enough clean programs to be considered a favorite for the podium.  The closest might be Denney and Frazier because of their silver medal at Skate America, but they have been beaten in head to head competition by other teams here.  The US pairs are already lagging behind the rest of the world in technical capabilities and their only hope is to skate completely clean programs with what they have.

Cain and LeDuc are an interesting case.  While they are a first year team, they are both very strong skaters and successful in their own right.  They have beat two of the top teams here in head to head competition this season and they have the most difficult element in any program with the double axel + single loop + triple salchow combination which is worth 8.20 points.  Most of the other teams are doing triple salchow + double toe, which is worth 5.70 points.  It might be their program components that hold them back, but if they skate like they can at nationals, the energy in the arena could give that portion of their score a big boost.

My podium predictions:

Gold: Denney/Frazier

Silver: Kayne/O’Shea

Bronze: Cain/LeDuc

Pewter: Castelli/Tran

 

Bios of the competitors:

Cain/LeDuc: She is 21 and represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 26 and represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  They placed 4th at Nebelhorn Trophy, 4th at Finlandia Trophy and won bronze at Golden Spin.

Castelli/Tran: She is 26 and he is 26 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They finished 6th at Four Continents.  They placed 7th at Skate America and 5th at Trophee de France.  They won bronze at the Autumn Classic International.  They are the reigning Bronze Medalists and finished 6th in 2015.

Denney/Frazier: She is 21 and represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 24 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club.  They won silver at Skate America and placed 4th at Skate Canada.  They placed 4th at Ondrej Nepela Memorial and 4th at Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They are the 2013 World Junior Champions.  They are the 2015 Silver Medalists, finished 5th in 2014, 5th in 2013, are the 2012 Junior Champions and 2008 Intermediate Bronze Medalists.

Fujimoto/Barsi-Rhyne: She is 25 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 25 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They placed 10th last season, 12th in 2015, 8th as juniors in 2014, 8th in juniors in 2013, 11th in juniors in 2012, 7th in novice in 2009, 12th in novice in 2008, 5th in intermediate in 2007, are the 2006 Juvenile Pewter Medalists, finished 7th in juvenile in 2005 and 11th in juvenile in 2004.

Green/Newby-Estrella: She is 18 and represents the Detroit Skating Club and he is 21 and represents the Dallas Figure Skating Club.  They placed 5th in juniors last season and are are the 2015 Novice Bronze Medalists.

Kayne/O’Shea: She is 23 and he is 25 and they represent the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They placed 13th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents last season.  They placed 6th at Skate America and 4th at NHK Trophy.  They placed 5th at Finlandia Trophy.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They are the reigning Champions, 2015 Bronze Medalists, placed 6th in 2014 and 7th in 2013.

Liu/Johnson: She is 17 and represents the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and he is 21 and represents the Detroit Skating Club.  They finished 5th at Junior Worlds last season.  They won bronze at the JGP Czech Republic and placed 5th at JGP Estonia.  They won silver at the Warsaw Cup.  They are the 2015 Junior Silver Medalists.

Pfund/Santillan: She is 19 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club and he is 24 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club.  They placed 8th at Cup of China.  They finished 4th at Lombardia Trophy.  They placed 7th last season.

Shaugnessy/Morgan: She is 24 and he is 25 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They won bronze at the US International Figure Skating Classic.  They placed 9th last season, 10th in 2015, 12th in 2014, 10th as juniors in 2013, are the 2012 Novice Bronze Medalists and finished 5th in novice in 2011.

Smith/Reiss: She represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 24 and represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  They placed 5th at Nebelhorn Trophy.  They finished 6th last season.

Stelatto-Dudek/Bartholomay: They represent the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They finished 6th at Golden Spin.

Weinberg/Fernandez: She is 20 and he is 21 and they represent the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They placed 10th at Junior Worlds last season.  They are the reigning Junior Champions.