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

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.

2016 Skate America Pairs Preview

Of the four disciplines at this event, this is probably the weakest field but two teams are coming back from injuries that kept them out of most or all of last season.  As a group they have two European medals, one Four Continents medal, and three Junior Worlds medals (including one gold).  One of the Grand Prix Final finishers from last season is competing here along with two top 10 finishers from Worlds.

The best short program so far this season is 74.24 with the top 10 all scoring above 64 points.  The top free skate score is 136.90 with the top 10 all above 114.  The top total score is 208.30 with the top 10 all above 179.  They will skate the short program on Friday, October 21st and the free skate on Saturday, October 22nd.

Seguin and Bilodeau had a great start to their first senior season last year, winning two bronze medals and qualifying for the Grand Prix Final.  However, injuries kept them out of the Championship events.  They started their season with a gold medal at the Autumn Classic International where they set new personal bests across the board.  While their free skate does not have any extremely difficult technical elements, they earned all positive GOEs and program components in the 8s giving them a very solid score, despite not having some of the tricky elements other teams will be attempting.  They have the 2nd best short program, best free skate and best total scores.

James and Cipres won the silver medal at the Autumn Classic International with personal best free skate and total scores.  They have a triple toe + double toe + double toe combo in their free skate along with a throw quad salchow.  They had three elements which earned negative GOEs and their program components were lower than the Canadians by a hair.  They have the 9th best short program, 2nd best free skate and 3rd best total scores.

Tarasova and Morozov have already taken home a gold medal this season from Ondrej Nepela Trophy.  They have a quad twist in their free skate but they missed their combo jump at Nepela and their program components were lower, including some in the 7s.  They are the highest ranked team from Worlds competing at this event.  They have the 3rd best short program, 5th best free skate and 4th best total scores.

Marchei and Hotarek took home a silver medal from Lombardia Trophy.  They only have a double twist in their free skate but they are both strong singles skaters and try and make up the deficit in their jumps.  They have solo triple lutzes and triple salchow +double toes planned and she does a throw triple lutz as well.  They have the 7th best free skate and 10th best total scores.

Kayne and O’Shea have not competed yet this season, but they put out two clean programs to win their first US National title last year.  They went on to place 4th at Four Continents with personal best short and total scores but couldn’t hold on to the momentum at the World Championships.  Their short program was new for the last half of the season and they are keeping it this year, which should help them get a little more consistency as that was their problem spot in the Championship events.

Castelli and Tran won bronze at the Autumn Classic International where they set a new personal best short program score.  Their free skate has been a tough spot for them so far this season.  At the Autumn Classic their side by side triple toes were downgraded, she double the throw flip, they missed the combo on their side by side jumps and their program components were as low as 6s.  They have the 5th best short program score.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Seguin/Bilodeau

Silver: Tarasova/Morozov

Bronze: James/Cipres

 

Bios of the competitors:

Seguin/Bilodeau, CAN: They won bronze at Skate America and bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 4th.  They are the 2015 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 208.30.  She is 19 and he is 23.

James/Cipres, FRA: They placed 10th at Worlds and 4th at Europeans.  They won silver at Trophee Eric Bompard and placed 6th at NHK Trophy last season.  Their personal best is 198.90.  She is 29 and he is 25.

Marchei/Hotarek, ITA: They placed 14th at Worlds and 5th at Europeans.  They placed 6th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  Their personal best is 182.61.  She is 30 and he is 32.

Astakhova/Rogonov, RUS: They placed 7th at Europeans.  They finished 7th at Skate America and 5th at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 185.00.  She is 19 and he is 28.

Tarasova/Morozov, RUS: They placed 5th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Skate Canada and placed 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  They are the 2015 European Bronze Medalists and 2014 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 206.27.  She is 21 and he is 23.

Castelli/Tran, USA: They finished 6th at Four Continents.  They placed 4th at Skate Canada and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 175.08.  She is 26 and he is 26.

Denney/Frazier, USA: They are the 2013 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 183.84.  She is 20 and he is 23.

Kayne/O’Shea, USA: They finished 13th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  They finished 6th at Skate America and 4th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 182.02.  She is 23 and he is 25.

2016 US Nationals Senior Pairs Free Skate

Group 1

Fujimoto/Barsi-Rhyne: 86.34 Total: 128.39

McDougal/Schatz: 62.90 Total: 95.04 and into 2nd place

  • Side by side double toes a little off on unison
  • Double twist not bad but could use more height–Level 2
  • Double flip missed the combo by her and two footed the landing
  • Press lift into a nice hip hold
  • Good death spiral–Level 2
  • Throw double loop
  • Throw double toe
  • Good pairs spin positions but a little pulling on the change of direction
  • Nice hip hold lift with a carry feature in a catch foot and a back flip exit

Usmantseva/Silecky: 66.96 Total: 105.30 and into 2nd place

  • Double twist with a clean catch–Level 2
  • Side by side triple salchow she flipped out
  • Throw triple lutz fall
  • Lasso lift and he misses her hip to get her full extended into the hold position–no value
  • Good unison and positions at the start of their side by side spin and they maintain pretty well throughout–Level 4
  • Nice lift position –Level 3
  • Triple toe she stepped out so no combo
  • Throw triple salchow she fell
  • A little slow on the pairs spin but a nice change in direction–Level 3
  • Nice carry feature in a spread eagle but really slow on the rotation with a cartwheel exit-Level 4

 

Group 2

Shaughnessy/Morgan: 86.94 Totla: 129.50 and into 1st place

  • Nice double twist with a clean catch–Level 1
  • She falls on the side by side triple salchows and he stumbles out
  • Lasso lift to a nice air position and a one arm hold but her shoulders seemed to come up a lot on the transition to one arm–Level 3
  • Throw double loop out of a dance lift
  • Pretty nice death spiral at the beginning but flattened out at the end–Level 4
  • She lost her edge for a second in the side by side spin but manages to hang on to it; unison off throughout–Level2
  • Good hip hold in a stag position–Level 3
  • Throw triple salchow was very big and right on the music
  • Nice side by side double axel + double toe
  • Decent speed on the pairs spin with pretty good positions; a little pulling on the change of direction–Level 2
  • A little stiff and slow on the rotation on the final lift–Level 1

Fields/Stevens: 71.72 Total: 117.39 and into 3rd place

  • Great speed into their double twist with a clean catch and nice flow–Level 3
  • Big throw triple loop but her legs get tangled on the landing and she fell
  • Side by side double toe + double toe
  • Lasso with a really nice air position but they have to check their one arm hold then she grabs his head and they may have come down early–Level Basic
  • They are really far apart on the side by side spin–Level 4
  • Press to hip hold with her in a stag and a nice carry feature with pretty decent rotation speed at the end and a twist out–Level 4
  • Her head touches the ice on the death spiral and they had to pull out early after she almost fell–Level Basic
  • They had to abort their final lift and will receive no credit
  • Side by side double salchow
  • Nice throw triple salchow in the air but she has to two foot the landing and turn out
  • Slow on the pairs spin with some interesting position variations–Level 2
  • I really love the costumes but nothing about this program actually screams Spanish to me
  • That was an unfortunate program for them and they’re capable of so much more

De la Mora/Kurdukov: 85.05 Total: 130.09 and into 1st place

  • She steps out of the side by side triple salchows
  • Not a bad double twist
  • Huge height on the throw triple salchow but she two foots the landing
  • Side by side double axle she steps out of the first one and he has a wonky takeoff; they complete the sequence but not sure if it will count
  • Backward takeoff to the first lift with her arm behind her back the whole time–Level 4
  • Throw double loop nicely done
  • Not a bad air position but it looked like they needed to hesitate to get the one arm hold–Level 4
  •  A little slow on the pairs spin but some good positions and nice flow through the changes–Level 4
  • Press lift with a pretty good pair position into a stag and change in rotational direction; cartwheel exit–Level 4
  • Spiral into a death spiral really nice arch and a change of hand for him; she reaches to grab his hand on the exit but he releases her one handed–Level 3
  • Good distance between them on the side by side spin and not terrible unison–Level Basic
  • Overall not a bad program

 

Groups 3 and 4 will be shown on NBC beginning at 1:30 CST (note Group 3 may be blacked out)

 

Group 3

Smith/Reiss: 101.09 Total: 152.18 and into 1st place

  • Side by side triple salchows pretty nice
  • Good triple twist but a little crashy on the catch–Level 1
  • Throw triple loop two footed the landing
  • Overhead hand to hand lift with nice position and a nice exit–Level 3
  • Side by side single axel + double sequence pretty good but off on the first jump
  • Hard fall on the throw triple lutz
  • Back entrance to a hip hold with nice carriage on the carry feature; great lift overall–Level 4
  • Nice death spiral position–Level 2
  • Off on the unison on their side by side spins–Level 4
  • Press into a star lift with great stretch from her–Level 3
  • A bit slow on their pairs spin–Level 2

Calalang/Sidhu: 106.24 Total: 156.77 and into 1st place

  • He falls on the side by side double axel and can’t complete the sequence
  • Pretty good triple twist –Level 1
  • He pops the side by side triple salchows and she two foots it
  • Really nice lift positions with a cartwheel exit–Level 4
  • Great death spiral position–Level 3
  • Pretty good unison on the side by side spins but a little far apart–Level
  • Nice one arm exit on the lift–Level 4
  • Great landing position on the throw triple salchow
  • Press into a star position with nice stretch but could have more power in the carry feature–Level 4
  • Throw triple lutz was really nice
  • A little slow and choppy on the pairs spin–Level 3
  • Overall pretty nice program for them

Pfund/Santillan: 79.59  Total: 133.79 and into 3rd place

  • No live video is available for this team but their elements are listed below
  • Side by side triple salchow + double axel sequence with positive GOEs
  • Level 3 double twist with positive GOE
  • Side by side triple toes with positive GOE
  • Throw triple loop
  • Lift was never fully up and received no credit
  • Level 1 death spiral with positive GOEs
  • Level 2 side by side spin
  • Level 1 lift
  • Throw triple salchow with a fall
  • Level 1 lift
  • No level on the pairs spin and no credit
  • Too bad on some of the elements as the first part was really nice

 

Group 4

Aaron/Settlage: 48.71 TES + 52.63 PCS -1.00 = 100.34  Total: 157.81 and into 1st place

  • Not a lot of height on the triple twist but a pretty clean catch–Level 1
  • Side by side triple salchows she put her hand down (under-rotated)
  • Press lift into a star position with a cartwheel exit–Level 3
  • Not a bad throw triple loop with a slight step out on the landing but then a fluky fall on the transition out of it
  • He turns out of the second jump in the side by side double axel sequence and she singles it
  • Back entrance to their lift with a nice arched stag position but not a lot of speed or ice coverage–Level  2
  • Great death spiral position–Level 3
  • Hands down on the throw triple salchow
  • Good distance between them on the side by side spins and is pretty good on unison–Level 3
  • Nice hand to hand hold with a twist exit–Level 3
  • A little slow on the pairs spin–Level 4
  • Overall not a bad program, it just looked like it needed some more mileage on it

Castelli/Tran: 54.23 TES + 62.29 PCS -2.00  = 114.92  Total: 179.04 and into 1st place

  • Clean triple twist–Level 2
  • Backward entry to the hand to hand hold into a split–Level 4
  • Side by side triple salchow
  • Nice throw double axel with a bit of a two foot landing
  • A tad slow on the pairs spin but nice positions–Level 2
  • He falls on the side by side triple toe and she steps out of it
  • Behind the back entry with a nice carry feature but it could have more speed and ice coverage–Level 4
  • Hand to hand lift with a catch foot and a twist out–Level 4
  • She two foots the falls on the throw triple salchow
  • Really off on the unison on their side by side spins–Level 3
  • Good death spiral position–Level 4

Scimeca/Knierim: 65.76 TES + 64.69 PCS -1.00 = 129.45  Total: 196.80 and into 1st place

  • Quad twist but she had to grab his head a bit on the landing–Level 2
  • Solid side by side triple salchows
  • Great height and ice coverage on the throw triple salchow but she barely two foots the landing
  • Great death spiral position with nice speed–Level 3
  • He goes down on the side by side triple toes
  • Backwards entry to the lift–Level 4
  • She puts her hands down on the throw triple lutz but a lot of height
  • Nice position in the second lift with a nice twist toss off his back on the exit–Level 4
  • Good distance between them on the side by side spin with good unison–Level 4
  • Good hand to hand hold lift–Level 4
  • Nice positions in the pairs spin, a little choppy on the change of direction but picking up speed–Level 4
  • They definitely left the door open

Kayne/O’Shea: 71.36 TES + 70.68 PCS = 142.04 Total: 211.65 and into 1st place

  • Pretty good triple twist–Level 2
  • Really nice side by side triple salchows
  • Great landing on the throw triple salchow
  • Backward entry to the lift with a nice dance exit–Level 4
  • So solid on the side by side double axel sequences
  • Great cartwheel entry into their throw triple lutz
  • Really nice death spiral with good speed–Level 3
  • Good unison on their side by side spins but losing it in the middle a bit–Level 4
  • Great expression from her on the lift into a nice star position with a death drop exit–Level 4
  • Great rotation in their final lift–Level 4
  • Good final pairs spin with good speed–Level 4
  • The crowd is on their feet before they even finish!
  • What a performance for them and they’ll be the new national Champions
Place Start Name Short Program Free Skate Total Score
Place Score Place Score
1 13 Tarah Kayne, Southwest Florida FSC
Danny OShea, Southwest Florida FSC
1 69.61 1 142.04 211.65
2 12 Alexa Scimeca, DuPage FSC
Christopher Knierim, Broadmoor SC
2 67.35 2 129.45 196.80
3 11 Marissa Castelli, SC of Boston
Mervin Tran, SC of Boston
3 64.12 3 114.92 179.04
4 10 Madeline Aaron, Coyotes SC of Arizona
Max Settlage, Broadmoor SC
4 57.47 6 100.34 157.81
5 8 Jessica Calalang, DuPage FSC
Zack Sidhu, Las Vegas FSC
7 50.53 4 106.24 156.77
6 7 Erika Smith, SC of New York
AJ Reiss, Los Angeles FSC
6 51.09 5 101.09 152.18
7 9 Jessica Pfund, Southwest Florida FSC
Joshua Santillan, All Year FSC
5 54.20 10 79.59 133.79
8 6 Brianna de la Mora, Texas Gulf Coast FSC
Maxim Kurdukov, Texas Gulf Coast FSC
9 45.04 9 85.05 130.09
9 4 Alexandria Shaughnessy, SC of Boston
James Morgan, SC of Boston
10 42.56 7 86.94 129.50
10 1 Cali Fujimoto, Peninsula SC
Nicholas Barsi-Rhyne, Southwest Florida FSC
11 42.05 8 86.34 128.39
11 5 Caitlin Fields, Indiana World Sk Acad FSC
Ernie Utah Stevens, Indiana World Sk Acad FSC
8 45.67 11 71.72 117.39
12 3 Elizaveta Usmantseva, Los Angeles FSC
Matej Silecky, SC of New York
12 38.34 12 66.96 105.30
13 2 Alyssa McDougal, Birmingham FSC
Paul Schatz, Southwest Florida FSC
13 32.14 13 62.90 95.04

2016 US Nationals Senior Pairs Preview

As a group, these teams have won 14 nationals medals.  Scimeca and Knierim took home two medals from the Grand Prix.  This group earned seven medals on the Challenger and Senior B circuit combined.  The gold, bronze and pewter medalists are returning along with the 5th, 6th, 10th and 12th place finishers.  The junior gold and silver medalists along with the 7th place finishers are moving up to compete as seniors.  The short program will  be held on Thursday, January 21st with the free skate on Saturday, January 23rd.

To be competitive internationally, these teams will need at least one quad, either a twist or a throw.

Scimeca and Knierim were the only US team to medal on the Grand Prix this season, and they won medals at both of their assignments.  Their short program includes a triple twist, side by side triple salchows, and throw triple flip.  They received higher levels at Skate America, earning Level 4 on their death spiral, lift, step sequence and spin with a Level 3 on their twist.  They earned 5 points from GOE at that event.  Their best program components came at NHK Trophy where they earned 7.61-7.89.  Their free skate includes a quad twist, side by side triple salchow (fall at Skate America), throw triple salchow, triple toe (intended combo missed at both events, fall at Skate America) and throw triple flip.  They received a Level 4 on their lifts and side by side spin at Skate America with a Level 3 on their death spiral and pairs spin.  They had fairly similar program components between events, earning 7.64-8.00 at Skate America.

Kayne and O’Shea earned two Grand Prix assignments this season.  Their short program includes a triple twist and a side by side triple salchow.  They landed a throw triple flip at Skate America and a throw triple lutz at Rostelecom Cup.  They had better levels at Skate America, where they earned Level 4 on their spin and lift with a Level 3 on the step sequence.  Their best program components came at Rostelecom Cup where they earned 7.04-7.29.  Their free skate includes a triple twist, side by side triple salchow (under-rotated at fall at Skate America), triple salchow throw (attempted quad at Skate America was under-rotated and fall), side by side double axel + double axel and a throw triple lutz.  They had better levels at Rostelecom Cup where they received Level 4 on their lifts, death spiral and spins.  They also earned better program components there, ranging from 7.21-7.43.

Castelli and Tran only had one full Grand Prix event this season, competing at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their short program includes a triple twist, side by side triple salchow and throw triple salchow.  They earned Level 4 on their lift, spin and death spiral with a Level 3 on their step sequence.  Their program components ranged from 6.89-7.11.  Their free skate includes a triple twist, side by side double salchow (likely triple), throw triple salchow, side by side triple toe (under-rotated and missed combo) and double axel throw.  She is capable of landing throw quad salchows and throw triple axels so these throw jumps are likely place holders for upgrades, although they may not be for this season.  They earned Level 4 on their lifts, pair spin and death spiral with a Level 3 on their side by side spin.  Their program components ranged from 7.04-7.32.

Calalang and Sidhu earned one Grand Prix assignment to the NHK Trophy.  Their short program includes a side by side triple salchow (under-rotated and fall), triple twist and triple lutz throw.  They earned a Level 4 on their lift with a Level 3 on their spin and steps.  They earned program components ranging from 6.36-6.64.  Their free skate includes a side by side double axel + double toe (under-rotated), triple twist, side by side single salchow (likely intended triple), throw triple salchow and throw triple flip (fall).  They received Level 4 on two of their lifts with a Level 3 on their death spiral and third lift.  Their program components ranged from 6.04-6.43.

Pfund and Santillan have made a big splash on the international scene in just their first season together, earning an assignment to Skate America.  Their short program includes a side by side triple salchow, throw triple loop (fall at Eastern Sectionals) and a double twist.  They earned Level 4 on their lift with a Level 3 on their spin and step sequence at sectionals.  Their best program components came at Skate America where they earned 5.54-5.96.  Their free skate includes a side by side triple salchow + double axel sequence (fall and missed combo at sectionals), double twist, side by side triple toe (fall at sectionals), throw triple loop, and throw triple salchow.  They earned Level 4 on two of their lifts and the pair spin at sectionals with Level 3 on their death spiral and side by side spin.  Their best program components came at Skate America, where they earned 5.82-6.32.

Aaron and Settlage missed the first half of the season due to injury but were able to compete at the Tallinn Trophy.  Their short program includes a triple twist, side by side triple salchow (under-rotated) and a throw triple salchow.  They earned Level 4 on their spin and Level 3 on their step sequence.  They received a 2 pt deduction for illegal elements.  Their program components ranged from 6.25-6.70.  Their free skate includes a triple twist, side by side triple salchow (under-rotated and fall), throw triple loop, single axel (intended double axel + double axel sequence), and a throw triple salchow.  They earned Level 4 on one lift and their pair spin and Level 3 on another lift and their side by side spin.  Their program components ranged from 6.05-6.50.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Scimeca/Knierim

Silver: Kayne/O’Shea

Bronze: Castelli/Tran

Pewter: Calalang/Sidhu

 

Bios of the competitors:

Aaron/Settlage: She is 21 and represents the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona and he is 23 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They placed 5th at the Tallinn Trophy.  They are the reigning Pewter Medalists, 2014 Junior Champions, 2013 Junior Bronze Medalists, finished 6th as juniors in 2012 and are the 2011 Novice Champions.

Calalang/Sidhu: She is 20 and represents the DuPage Figure Skating Club and he is 24 and represents the Las Vegas Figure Skating Club.  They finished 7th at NHK Trophy.  They placed 4th at Ice Challenge.  They finished 5th last season, 11th in 2014, are the 2013 Junior Silver Medalists, 2012 Junior Pewter Medalists and finished 8th in juniors in 2011.

Castelli/Tran: She is 25 and he is 25 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They placed 4th at Skate Canada and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  They won silver at the US International Classic, silver at the Autumn Classic International and placed 5th at the Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They finished 6th last season.

De la Mora/Kurdukov: She is 16 and he is 25 and they represent the Texas Gulf Coast Figure Skating Club.  They won silver at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Fields/Stevens: She is 20 and he is 22 and they represent the Indiana World Figure Skating Academy Figure Skating Club.  They finished 5th at Junior Worlds last season.  They placed 8th at Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They are the reigning Junior Champions.  They won gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Fujimoto/Barsi-Rhyne: She is 24 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 24 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They placed 12th last season, 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.

Kayne/O’Shea: She is 22 and he is 24 and they represent the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They placed 8th at Four Continents last season.  They placed 6th at Skate America and 4th at Rostelecom Cup.  They won gold at the US International Classic and bronze at the Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They are the reigning Bronze Medalists, placed 6th in 2014 and 7th in 2013.

Liu/Johnson: She is 16 and represents the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and he is 20 and represents the Detroit Skating Club.  They finished 7th at Junior Worlds last season.  They placed 8th at JGP Austria and 5th at JGP Poland.  They are the reigning Junior Silver Medalists.

McDougal/Schatz: She is 17 and represents the Birmingham Figure Skating Club and he is 24 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.  They finished 7th as juniors last season, 10th as juniors in 2014.  They won bronze at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Pfund/Santillan:  She is 18 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club and he is 23 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club.  They placed 8th at Skate America.  They won bronze at the Autumn Classic International.  They won gold at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Scimeca/Knierim: She is 24 and represents the DuPage Figure Skating Club and he is 28 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They placed 7th at Worlds and 5th at Four Continents last season.  They won silver at Skate America and bronze at NHK Trophy.  They won silver at Nebelhorn Trophy and gold at Ice Challenge.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They are the reigning Champions, 2014 Pewter Medalists and 2013 Silver Medalists.  Internationally, they have the 10th best short program score.

Shaughnessy/Morgan: She is 23 and he is 24 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They placed 10th last season, 12th in 2014, 10th as juniors in 2013, are the 2012 Novice Bronze Medalists and finished 5th in novice in 2011.  They won silver at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Smith/Reiss: She represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 23 and represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.

Usmantseva/Silecky: She represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club and he represents the Skating Club of New York.

2015 Trophee Eric Bompard Pairs Preview

Despite the fact that we are now in the back half of the Grand Prix season, three teams are making their season debuts here in hopes of qualifying for the Grand Prix Final.  Sui and Han have already claimed a spot, leaving 5 still up for grabs.

Volosozhar and Trankov are competing in their first Grand Prix event since the Olympic season.  They started their year with a gold medal finish at Nebelhorn Trophy.  Despite a rough short program, they rebounded in the free skate and showed the form that took them to Olympic gold.  They have the 4th best free skate and 4th best total scores of the season.  If they medal here, they have a chance to qualify for the Final at NHK Trophy.

Peng and Zhang are competing in their first event of the season.  They set new personal bests at Worlds last year, placing 4th, and scored over 200 points.  They showed steady improvement over the year last year, but started off with lower scores before moving up.  They have qualified for two consecutive Grand Prix Finals and with a medal here they can try for their third Final at Rostelecom Cup.

Tarsova and Morozov started their season with a silver medal at Skate Canada.  They had a mostly clean short program at that event but gave up some points by only receiving credit for a double toe in their short program and losing points on their GOE.  Their free skate was very strong with no major errors and no negative GOEs overall, but they did receive enough negative marks here and there to keep them from gaining more points.  They also don’t have a quad which is keeping them from moving up in the rankings to be with the top teams.  They have the 8th best short program, 7th best free skate and 8th best total scores. They can guarantee a spot in the Final with a gold medal here.

Castelli and Tran finished just off the podium in 4th at Skate Canada.  Their side by side triple salchows in their short program were a bit messy but overall they had a solid short program.  Bringing up their program components will help them move up the standings.  Both of their side by side jumps had problems in their free skate and they didn’t receive credit for a combo.  Their free skate includes a throw triple salchow and a throw double axel and those might be placeholders for a throw quad salchow and triple axel later in the season.  They need a gold medal to give themselves a chance to qualify for the Final.

James and Cipres started their season with a bronze medal at Nebelhorn Trophy.  They moved up one spot at Worlds last year but have yet to win a medal on the Grand Prix.  They have placed 5th at three consecutive events.  If they find themselves on the podium here, they can qualify for the Final at NHK Trophy.

Seguin and Bilodeau won the bronze in their Grand Prix debut at Skate America.  They had a very solid short program with all positive GOEs.  They can bring up their score by increasing their GOEs and bringing up their program components.  Their free skate was stronger with better program components.  They also don’t have a quad which will keep them down in the standings as the season progresses.  They have the 9th best free skate and 10th best total scores of the season.  A gold medal would give them a good shot at the Final while a silver would keep them in the running.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Volosozhar/Trankov

Silver: Peng/Zhang

Bronze: Tarasova/Morozov

 

Bios of the competitors:

Ziegler/Kiefer, AUT: They finished 18th at Worlds and 8th at Europeans.  They placed 6th at Skate Canada.  Their personal best is 153.29.  She is 21 and he is 25.

Seguin/Bilodeau, CAN: They placed 8th at Worlds and are the reigning Junior Worlds Silver Medalists.  They won bronze at Skate America.  Their personal best is 189.49.  She is 19 and he is 22.

Peng/Zhang, CHN: They finished 4th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They won bronze at Skate America and gold at Cup of China last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 4th.  Their personal best is 206.63.  She is 18 and he is 31.

James/Cipres, FRA: They placed 9th at Worlds and 5th at Europeans.  They finished 5th at Skate Canada and 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 185.48.  She is 28 and he is 24.

Della Monica/Guarise, ITA: They finished 14th at Worlds and 6th at Europeans.  They finished 5th at Cup of China and 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 161.13.  She is 26 and he is 27.

Tarasova/Morozov, RUS: They placed 6th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Skate Canada.  They are the 2014 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 198.46.  She is 20 and he is 23.

Volosozhar/Trankov, RUS: They are the 2014 Olympic Champions; 2013 World Champions, 2011 and 2012 World Silver Medalists; and 2012, 2013 and 2014 European Champions.  Their personal best is 237.71.  She is 29 and he is 32.

Castelli/Tran, USA: They placed 4th at Skate Canada.  Their personal best is 173.40.  She is 25 and he is 25.

Skate Canada Pairs Results

Short Program

 Pl. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CH IN Ded.
StN.
1 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN 72.46 38.27 34.19 8.64 8.39 8.61 8.64 8.46 0.00 #8
2 Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS 64.00 32.32 31.68 7.96 7.64 7.93 8.07 8.00 0.00 #7
3 Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO CAN 63.17 33.89 29.28 7.21 7.18 7.39 7.50 7.32 0.00 #4
4 Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN USA 61.85 33.82 28.03 7.00 6.89 7.00 7.11 7.04 0.00 #1
5 Vera BAZAROVA / Andrei DEPUTAT RUS 57.02 29.86 27.16 6.93 6.68 6.75 6.93 6.68 0.00 #3
6 Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA 54.00 27.89 27.11 6.86 6.54 6.68 6.89 6.93 1.00 #5
7 Miriam ZIEGLER / Severin KIEFER AUT 49.95 27.24 23.71 6.00 5.71 5.93 6.00 6.00 1.00 #6
8 Vanessa GRENIER / Maxime DESCHAMPS CAN 45.45 22.22 23.23 5.96 5.61 5.79 6.04 5.64 0.00 #2

Free Skate

 Pl. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CH IN Ded.
StN.
1 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN 143.70 72.91 70.79 8.86 8.64 8.82 9.04 8.89 0.00 #8
2 Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS 127.19 63.85 63.34 7.96 7.71 7.89 8.14 7.89 0.00 #7
3 Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO CAN 111.68 53.17 58.51 7.32 7.14 7.29 7.46 7.36 0.00 #6
4 Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN USA 111.55 53.96 57.59 7.29 7.14 7.04 7.32 7.21 0.00 #5
5 Miriam ZIEGLER / Severin KIEFER AUT 103.34 55.34 48.00 5.93 5.82 6.00 6.21 6.04 0.00 #2
6 Vera BAZAROVA / Andrei DEPUTAT RUS 99.13 48.93 51.20 6.54 6.29 6.29 6.57 6.32 1.00 #4
7 Vanessa GRENIER / Maxime DESCHAMPS CAN 98.70 52.27 47.43 5.93 5.89 5.93 6.18 5.71 1.00 #1
WD Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA #3

Total

FPl. Name Nation Points SP FS
1 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD
CAN
216.16 1 1
2 Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV
RUS
191.19 2 2
3 Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO
CAN
174.85 3 3
4 Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN
USA
173.40 4 4
5 Vera BAZAROVA / Andrei DEPUTAT
RUS
156.15 5 6
6 Miriam ZIEGLER / Severin KIEFER
AUT
153.29 7 5
7 Vanessa GRENIER / Maxime DESCHAMPS
CAN
144.15 8 7
WD Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK
ITA
6

Skate Canada Pairs Preview

Duhamel and Radford were golden last season, winning every event that they entered, including Four Continents and Worlds.  At Worlds they set a new personal best total score, the 2nd best score by an active pairs team.  With their quads and difficult side by side triple jumps, they have set the standard that other teams are trying to follow.

Tarasova and Morozov had a great senior debut last season, winning two Grand Prix medals, a European medal and a top 6 finish at Worlds.  They set personal best scores in all segments of competition at Worlds.  They started their season with a 3rd place finish at Ondrej Nepela Trophy, but set a score higher than any event they competed in except for Worlds last year.

Marchei and Hotarek surprised many with their success last season, finishing 4th at Europeans and just outside the top 10 at Worlds.  They won gold at Lombardia Trophy this season.

Castelli and Tran have just started competing internationally after his release from the Canadian Federation.  They won silver at the US Figure Skating Classic and Skate Canada Autumn Classic and this is their Grand Prix debut.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Duhamel/Radford

Silver: Tarasova/Morozov

Bronze: Castelli/Tran

 

Bios of the competitors:

Ziegler/Kiefer, AUT: They finished 18th at Worlds and 8th at Europeans.  They placed 8th at Skate America and 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 147.22.  She is 21 and he is 25.

Duhamel/Radford, CAN: They are the reigning World Champions and reigning Four Continents Champions.  They won gold at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won gold.  They are the 2013 and 2014 World Bronze Medalists, 2013 Four Continents Champions and 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 221.53.  She is 29 and he is 30.

Grenier/Deschamps, CAN: They placed 6th at Skate America last season.  Their personal best is 157.06.  She is 23 and he is 23.

Moore-Towers/Marinaro, CAN: They finished 9th at Four Continents.  They placed 6th at Skate Canada and 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 160.70.  She is 23 and he is 23.

Marchei/Hotarek, ITA: They placed 11th at Worlds and 4th at Europeans.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 175.39.  She is 29 and he is 31.

Bazarova/Deputat, RUS: They placed 4th at Cup of China and 4th at NHK Trophy last season.  Their personal best is 166.44.  She is 22 and he is 22.

Tarasova/Morozov, RUS: They placed 6th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and silver at Rostelecom Cup last season.  They are the 2014 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 198.46.  She is 20 and he is 23.

Castelli/Tran, USA: This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 169.46.  She is 25 and he is 25.

US Nationals Pairs Short Program Results

Place Start Name Score
1 7 Alexa Scimeca, DuPage FSC
Christopher Knierim, Broadmoor SC
74.01
2 9 Haven Denney, Panthers FSC
Brandon Frazier, All Year FSC
68.38
3 2 Marissa Castelli, SC of Boston
Mervin Tran, SC of Boston
64.24
4 10 Tarah Kayne, Southwest Florida FSC
Danny O’Shea, Skokie Valley SC
61.56
5 11 Gretchen Donlan, SC of Boston
Nathan Bartholomay, Southwest Florida FSC
59.81
6 5 Jessica Calalang, DuPage FSC
Zack Sidhu, Las Vegas FSC
58.75
7 12 Madeline Aaron, Coyotes SC of Arizona
Max Settlage, Broadmoor SC
56.45
8 3 DeeDee Leng, DuPage FSC
Simon Shnapir, SC of Boston
55.03
9 1 Anya Davidovich, Individual Member
AJ Reiss, Los Angeles FSC
49.69
10 8 Alexandria Shaughnessy, SC of Boston
James Morgan, SC of Boston
47.51
11 6 Olivia Oltmanns, Broadmoor SC
Joshua Santillan, All Year FSC
41.13
12 4 Cali Fujimoto, Peninsula SC
Nicholas Barsi-Rhyne, SC of Lake Placid
39.48

2015 US Nationals Senior Pairs Preview

After the Olympics, there were a ton of splits and retirements in the pairs field.  Nine of these teams have competed at nationals together before and the rest are new pairings.  The nine teams have collectively won 12 national medals.  Five teams competed on the Grand Prix last season with one winning a medal.  The podium is wide open with only the 4th-6th, 11th and 12th place finishers from seniors returning along with the junior 1st, 5th, 6th and 8th place teams.

To be competitive on the international level, they will need to have high level lifts with solid side by side jumps and throws.  The quad is becoming more important, whether it is a throw or a twist.

Scimeca and Knierim have declared themselves the front runner at nationals and are ready to win their first national title.  After taking home the silver medal in 2013, they were disappointed to not make the Olympic team last season.  They have great chemistry on the ice, due in part to their off ice relationship.  They’re known for their high flying triple twist and will be going for the quad twist for the first time in competition at nationals.  They showed great improvement between Skate America and Trophee Eric Bompard.  They have a solo triple salchow and double axel + double toe in their free skate in addition to a throw triple loop and a throw triple flip.  They received 4 on almost all of their elements at Trophee Eric Bompard, with only the death spiral receiving a Level 3.  At Trophee Eric Bompard, they earned 6 points from GOE and improved their program components to 7.11-7.43. For the short program they have a throw triple flip and a solo triple salchow.  They consistently earned Level 3s and 4s on all of their elements and earned the same program components at both events: ranging from 6.96-7.36.  They’ve nearly maxed out their levels, and will need to bring up their GOE and program components to move up internationally.

Denney and Frazier upgraded their coaching staff over the summer, landing Ingo Steuer in addition to their regular team.  After finishing 5th at nationals each of the last two seasons, they seem ready to make a run at the title this season.  They are the only team in the field to win a medal on the Grand Prix this season and their Lion King free skate is excellently done.  When skated cleanly, the elements are put together with the music in just the right way to evoke an emotional response to their program.  Their free skate features a throw triple salchow and throw triple loop along with solo triple salchows and a double axel + double axel sequence.  They receive mostly Level 3 and Level 4 elements.  At Skate America they earned an impressive 9 points from GOE, while they earned 5 at Rostelecom Cup.  Despite skating a stronger program at Skate America, their program components were higher at Rostelecom Cup, earning them between 7.04 and 7.29.  Their short program has a solo triple salchow and a throw triple loop.  They earned higher program component marks at Rostelecom Cup with 6.57-7.00.  At Rostelecom Cup they had problems with the solo jumps in both of their programs.

Kayne and O’Shea finished just 6th at nationals last season but impressed with their short program.  They went on to win the silver medal at Four Continents ahead of Scimeca and Knierim.  They were supposed to make their Grand Prix debut this season, but she was recovering from hip surgery.  They were able to compete at a Challenger Series event in December, where they won the bronze medal.  In the free skate they have a triple salchow and double axel + double axel sequence (although the salchow was doubled).  They also have a throw triple loop and triple salchow.  They received Level 3s and 4s on their death spiral, spins and lifts and earned 5 points from GOE.  Their program components ranged from 6.70 to 7.15.  In their short program, they have a solo triple salchow and a throw triple loop.  Their program components were lower in the 6.20-6.55 range.

Calalang and Sidhu finished 11th at nationals last season but were able to make their Grand Prix debut this season.  With two solid finishes on the Grand Prix and two medals on the Challenger Series circuit, they should be able to make a big jump in the standings this year.  They have a triple salchow and double axel + double toe in their free skate.  They have a throw triple salchow, however, it was singled at Cup of China and after factoring in the deduction for the fall and the GOE, they earned negative points for the element.  At Cup of China, they landed a throw triple lutz, while they did a throw triple flip at Rostelecom Cup.  At both events, they had Level 3 and 4 lifts and spins.  These two events were only a week apart, but they saw a big jump in their program components, earning 6.43-6.86 at Rostelecom Cup.  For the short program, they have a solo triple salchow, which was under-rotated at both events, and a throw triple lutz.  Their program components were higher at Cup of China, ranging from 6.39-6.82.

Aaron and Settlage won the junior title last season.  They have a very balletic style and presence on the ice.  They made their Grand Prix debut this season and had two strong finishes, just missing the podium.  Their free skate features a throw triple loop and throw triple salchow in addition to solo triple salchows and a double axel + double axel sequence.  At Skate Canada, both of their solo jumps were under-rotated.  At Skate America, they had lots of Level 1s on their elements, but by Skate Canada a week later, They received Level 3 and 4 on everything but their death spiral and twist.  In just a week, they showed significant growth in their program components, earning 7.00-7.21 at Skate Canada.  For their short program, they have a throw triple loop and solo triple salchows.  Their program components ranged from 6.36-6.75.

Castelli and Tran are making their national debut as a team.  She is capable of landing throw quads and has two national titles under her belt while he is a former world medalist.  New partnerships can take time to solidify but these two have the pedigree to be a great team.  They showed promise at sectionals, but still have some work to do if they want to challenge for a national title.  At Eastern Sectionals, their fee skate featured a double twist (the other top teams all have triples).  They also had solo triple toes + double toes and a triple salchows, although the salchow was judged under-rotated and the combo was downgraded.  They went for a throw double lutz and throw triple salchow (the other top teams have two throw triples).  They did have Level 3 or 4 on everything except for their death spiral but lost points on GOE.  Their program components ranged from 6.50-7.00.  Their short program has a triple twist, triple salchows and a throw triple saclhow.  They also lost points from GOE in their short program with program components from 6.50-7.06.

My podium predictions:

Gold: Denney/Frazier

Silver: Scimeca/Knierim

Bronze: Aaron/Settlage

Pewter: Kayne/O’Shea

 

Bios of the competitors:

Aaron/Settlage: She is 20 and represents the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona and he is 22 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They placed 5th at Junior Worlds last season.  They placed 5th at Skate America and 4th at Skate Canada.  They won bronze at the US International Figure Skating Classic and placed 6th at Nebelhorn Trophy.  They are the reigning Junior Champions, 2013 Junior Bronze Medalists, finished 6th as juniors in 2012 and are the 2011 Novice Champions.

Calalang/Sidhu: She is 18 and represents the DuPage Figure Skating Club and he is 22 and represents the Las Vegas Figure Skating Club.  They finished 7th at Cup of China and 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  They won silver at the US International Figure Skating Classic and bronze at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic.  They finished 11th last season, are the 2013 Junior Silver Medalists, 2012 Junior Pewter Medalists and finished 8th in juniors in 2011.

Castelli/Tran: She is 24 and he is 24 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They won gold at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Davidovich/Reiss: She is an individual member and he is 22 and represents the Los Angeles Skating Club.  They won gold at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

De la Mora/Wilson: She is 15 and he is 23 and they represent the Texas Gulf Coast Figure Skating Club.  They finished 5th as juniors last season, 5th in juniors in 2013, 8th as juniors in 2012, 6th as novices in 2011 and are the 2010 Intermediate Champions.  They won silver at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Denney/Frazier: She is 19 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club and he is 22 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club.  They finished 4th at Four Continents last season.  They won silver at Skate America and placed 4th at Rostelecom Cup.  They won gold at Lombardia Trophy and silver at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic.  They are the 2013 World Junior Champions.  They finished 5th last season, 5th in 2013, are the 2012 Junior Champions and 2008 Intermediate Bronze Medalists.  They have the 9th best short program, 8th best free skate and 8th best total score internationally.

Donlan/Bartholomay: She is 21 and represents the Skating Club of Boston and he is 25 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.

Fujimoto/Barsi-Rhyne: She is 23 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 23 and represents the Skating Club of Lake Placid.  They placed 8th as juniors last season, 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.

Kayne/O’Shea: She is 20 and represents the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club and he is 22 and represents the Skokie Valley Skating Club.  They are the reigning Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They won bronze at Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They placed 6th last season and 7th in 2013.

Leng/Shnapir: She is 21 and represents the DuPage Figure Skating Club he is 27 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They placed 8th at Rostelecom Cup and 6th at NHK Trophy.

Oltmanns/Santillan: She is 17 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club and he is 22 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club.  They finished 6th as juniors last season, 11th in juniors in 2013, 9th in juniors in 2012, 11th in juniors in 2011 and 6th in novice in 2010.

Scimeca/Knierim: She is 23 and represents the DuPage Figure Skating Club and he is 27 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They finished 4th at Skate America and 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  They won gold at the US Figure Skating Classic and bronze at Nebelhorn Trophy.  They are the reigning Pewter Medalists and 2013 Silver Medalists.  They have the 9th best free skate and 10th best total score internationally.

Shaughnessy/Morgan: She is 22 and he is 23 and they represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They placed 12th last season, 10th as juniors in 2013, are the 2012 Novice Bronze Medalists and finished 5th in novice in 2011.