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.

2017 World Championships Pairs Preview

Sui and Han missed the first half of the season as she had surgery last spring.  They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and reigning Four Continents Champions.  Their personal best came at Four Continents, where they scored 225.03.  They have a quad twist in their free skate, but what is most impressive about their programs is the quality of the elements they execute.  They routinely receive +2 and +3 GOE, giving them bonus points on their base score.  This quality performance gives them the best element score in a short program this season.  They have the 2nd best short program, 4th best free skate, and 2nd best total scores.

Stolbova and Klimov also missed the first half of the season due to injury.  They finished 4th at Worlds last season, and 4th at Europeans this year.  Their personal best was set at the Grand Prix Final last season, where they scored 229.44.  Technically there is nothing that stands out in their programs.  They don’t have quads or difficult side by side combinations.  This doesn’t give them a lot of wiggle room and they’ll have to execute everything cleanly to make up for the lack of technical firepower.  The only real difference between them and gold at Europeans was their technical score in the short program after they made errors on the side by side jumps.  They have the 7th best short program, 5th best free skate, and 6th best total scores.

Savchenko and Massot had to sit out the middle of the season, missing the Grand Prix Final, due to injury.  They took home gold in their two Grand Prix assignments and are the reigning World Bronze Medalists and European Silver Medalists.  They set a personal best at Europeans, scoring 222.35.  They had to water down some of their content at Europeans as they were making their way back from the earlier injury.  However, they are capable of landing throw triple axels in the short program and free skate and they have a throw quad salchow planned for the end of their free skate.  It’s a risky move putting such a difficult element as the last thing in the program as it is the last impression the judges have, however, if it’s landed well, it can greatly inflate the program components as the overall impression of the program will likely be higher.  Even with the watered down content, their passionate free skate at Europeans earned the the highest score of the season in program components and the second highest in technical elements.  They have the 4th best short program, best free skate, and 3rd best total scores.

Yu and Zhang have made the most of their new pairing, winning a gold and silver on the Grand Prix and silver at the Grand Prix Final.  They set their personal best at the Final, scoring 206.71.  They finished 4th at Four Continents.  They recently upgraded to a quad twist in their free skate.  They are still a new team and are learning how to perform together in a program.  This is reflected in the steady rise in their program components, staring around 29 points and moving to 33 points in the short program, and going from 65 to 68 points in the free skate.  They have the 5th best short program, 9th best free skate, and 8th best total scores.

Duhamel and Radford are the two-time reigning World Champions and Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They won two gold medals on the Grand Prix and bronze at the Grand Prix Final.  Their personal best was set at Worlds last year when they scored 231.99.  They have difficult programs planned with a throw triple axel in the short program and a throw quad salchow in their free skate.  They haven’t had as much success with these elements, so it will be interesting to see if they include them to prepare for the Olympic season, or if they go for more guaranteed elements and a clean program to try and hold on to their title.  They are fairly successful at their side by side triple lutzes in both programs.  Most teams are attempting a triple toe in their short programs worth 4.30 points, while the lutz is worth 6.00.  They have the 3rd best short program, 6th best free skate, and 5th best total scores.

Tarasova and Morozov didn’t really come in to the season as a team that was on the radar.  They finished 5th at Worlds last year, but were 10 points from the podium.  They won a bronze and silver on the Grand Prix and then were the surprise winners of the Grand Prix Final.  They claimed their first European title in January with a personal best score of 227.58.  In general, the elements of their program are not super difficult, with the exception of the quad twist in their free skate (which they did not include at Europeans), but they have quality.  Everything they do earns positive GOEs.  While their programs are a little bit paint by the numbers, they are clean and have the classic Russian look that earns them high program component marks.  The biggest difference in their success this season has been getting consistency in the free program.  At Skate America, they earned only 49.84 points in the free skate for TES, but they earned 72.82 points at Europeans.  They have the best short program, 2nd best free skate, and best total scores.

James and Cipres had the best performance of their careers to take home the bronze medal from Europeans with a personal best 220.02.  They also won a bronze medal at Trophee de France.  Their biggest improvement has been in the program components.  At Skate America, their free skate earned only 59 points in that segment, while they earned 71.57 at Europeans.  They have the highest technical score in a free skate this season.  They have dialed back some of their side by side content this season but do plan a quad salchow in their free skate.  They do a lower value Group 5 lift in their free skate, which is worth a half point less than other teams are doing.  It’s a small thing, but that half point in base value could make a difference in a tight competition.  They have the 6th best short program, 3rd best free skate, and 4th best total scores.

Seguin and Bilodeau have had a bit of an up and down season.  They won gold at Skate America and then placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 208.30, but was set at a Challenger Cup series, and they have yet to come close to that score in any other event.  Like James and Cipres, one of the Group 5 lifts in their free skate is a lower base value, although theirs is a full point less.  They have the 7th best free skate and 7th best total scores.

Iliushechkina and Moscovitch are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They won two bronze medals on the Grand Prix.  They have steadily been making improvements in their scores throughout the season, but the biggest thing holding them back is the side by side jumps in their free skate which they’ve yet to hit cleanly.  They have the 9th best short program, 10th best free skate, and 9th best total scores.

Zabiiako and Enbert finished 5th at Europeans.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup and finished 4th at the Grand Prix Final, coming in as a first alternate.  Their technical score in the free skate is a bit behind the other teams as they are doing a throw double axel.  This is worth at least a half a point less in the throws than any of the other top teams.  However, if they decide to go for the full triple axel, that element would give them an extra three points in base value.  They have the 10th best short program score.

Also trying to crack the top ten are Scimeca Knierim and Knierim (6th at Four Continents) and Denney and Fraizer  (silver at Skate America).

Peng and Jin have the 8th best short program, 8th best free skate, and 10th best total scores, but there were only two spots for Chinese teams at Worlds this year.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Savchenko/Massot

Silver: Sui/Han

Bronze: Tarasova/Morozov

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

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 Canada Pairs Free Skate Results

Free Skate

 Pl. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CO IN Ded.
StN.
1 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN 139.91 72.35 68.56 8.64 8.46 8.61 8.64 8.50 1.00 #6
2 Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG CHN 132.65 67.40 65.25 8.32 7.93 8.21 8.14 8.18 0.00 #7
3 Liubov ILYUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN 122.69 59.55 65.14 8.14 7.93 8.11 8.21 8.32 2.00 #5
4 Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER USA 121.73 59.15 62.58 7.86 7.64 7.93 7.86 7.82 0.00 #4
5 Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE ITA 119.42 59.93 59.49 7.50 7.18 7.50 7.54 7.46 0.00 #3
6 Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS 118.35 55.47 63.88 7.86 8.14 7.82 8.29 7.82 1.00 #2
7 Brittany JONES / Joshua REAGAN CAN 97.45 48.29 50.16 6.46 6.07 6.25 6.39 6.18 1.00 #1

Total

FPl. Name Nation Points SP FS
1 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD
CAN
218.30 1 1
2 Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG
CHN
202.08 2 2
3 Liubov ILYUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH
CAN
190.22 3 3
4 Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER
USA
188.23 4 4
5 Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV
RUS
182.75 5 6
6 Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE
ITA
178.67 6 5
7 Brittany JONES / Joshua REAGAN
CAN
151.68 7 7

 

2016 Skate Canada Pairs Short Program Results

Pl. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CO IN Ded.
StN.
1 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN 78.39 43.90 34.49 8.61 8.36 8.75 8.75 8.64 0.00 #2
2 Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG CHN 69.43 39.83 29.60 7.64 7.18 7.36 7.54 7.29 0.00 #3
3 Liubov ILYUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN 67.53 36.40 31.13 7.71 7.54 7.89 7.89 7.89 0.00 #4
4 Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER USA 66.50 36.33 30.17 7.64 7.36 7.54 7.50 7.68 0.00 #6
5 Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS 64.40 34.21 31.19 7.96 7.75 7.64 7.96 7.68 1.00 #5
6 Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE ITA 59.25 32.16 28.09 7.18 6.86 6.79 7.21 7.07 1.00 #1
7 Brittany JONES / Joshua REAGAN CAN 54.23 27.80 26.43 6.79 6.43 6.57 6.75 6.50 0.00 #7

2016 Skate Canada Pairs Preview

Denney and Frazier were out all of last season as she was recovering from knee surgery.  They came back to international competition with a bang, winning the silver at Skate America last weekend.  They had problems with both of their side by side jumps in their free skate.  They received Level 4s on most of their elements.  They have the 6th best short program, 7th best free skate and 6th best total scores.

Duhamel and Radford are the reigning World Champions and they set new personal bests across the board at that event.  They started this season with a gold medal at Finlandia Trophy.  They landed side by side triple lutzes in their free skate at that event.  They were also credited with a throw quad salchow but she fell.  They have the 8th best short program, 3rd best free skate and 5th best total scores.

Iliushechkina and Moscovitch started their season with a silver medal at Nebelhorn Trophy.  They landed a throw triple lutz in their free skate but doubled both of their side by side jumps and missed their combination.  They have the 9th best short program, 9th best free skate and 9th best total scores.

Kavaguti and Smirnov are capable of landing quads and other difficult elements, but they are both older and injury prone and have missed parts of several seasons, including the last one due to injuries.  They won silver at Ondrej Nepela Memorial to start their season.  They have the 4th best short program, 10th best free skate and 7th best total scores.

Della Monica and Guarise won gold at Lombardia Trophy to start their season.  They have the 6th best free skate and 8th best total scores.

Yu and Zhang were both part of successful partnerships the last few years but the Chinese Federation split them up and re-partnered them.  This will be their debut as a team.

The best short program score of the season is 75.24 with the top 10 all scoring 65 points or higher.  The best free skate score is 136.90 with the top ten all scoring 116 or higher.  The highest total score is 208.30 with the top 10 scoring at least 181 points.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Duhamel/Radford

Silver: Denney/Frazier

Bronze: Kavaguti/Smirnov

 

Bios of the competitors:

Duhamel/Radford, CAN: They are the reigning World Champions.  They won gold at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  They are the 2015 World Champions, 2013 and 2014 World Bronze Medalists, 2013 and 2015 Four Continents Champions and 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 231.99.  She is 30 and he is 31.

Iliushechkina/Moscovitch, CAN: They placed 7th at Worlds and 5th at Four Continents.  They placed 7th at Cup of China and 5th at NHK Trophy last season.  Their personal best is 199.52.  She is 24 and he is 32.

Jones/Reagan, CAN: Their personal best is 155.48.  She is 20 and he is 26.

Yu/Zhang, CHN: This is their Grand Prix debut.  She is 20 and he is 32.

Della Monica/Guarise, ITA: They finished 11th at and 6th at Europeans.  They finished 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 191.98.  She is 27 and he is 28.

Kavaguti/Smirnov, RUS: They won gold at Cup of China and silver at Rostelecom Cup last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2009 and 2010 World Bronze Medalists, 2010 and 2015 European Champions, 2009 and 2011 European Silver Medalists, and 2008 European Bronze Medalists.  She is 34 and he is 32.

Denney/Frazier, USA: They won silver at Skate America.  They are the 2013 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 192.65.  She is 21 and he is 23.

2016 Skate America Pairs Free Skate Results

Free Skate

Pl. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CO IN Ded.
StN.
1 Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN 130.82 66.56 64.26 7.96 7.71 8.21 8.14 8.14 0.00 #5
2 Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER USA 125.36 61.22 64.14 7.93 7.75 8.11 8.11 8.18 0.00 #7
3 Tarah KAYNE / Danny O’SHEA USA 115.57 58.21 58.36 7.36 7.18 7.32 7.36 7.25 1.00 #2
4 Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN USA 110.78 54.13 57.65 7.32 7.25 7.00 7.25 7.21 1.00 #1
5 Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS 110.70 49.84 61.86 8.04 7.61 7.61 7.79 7.61 1.00 #8
6 Kristina ASTAKHOVA / Alexei ROGONOV RUS 110.18 53.57 57.61 7.29 7.04 7.18 7.29 7.21 1.00 #3
7 Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA 108.87 52.60 59.27 7.50 7.25 7.11 7.68 7.50 3.00 #6
8 Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA 107.20 51.48 55.72 6.96 6.82 6.86 7.07 7.11 0.00 #4

Total

FPl. Name Nation Points SP FS
1 Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU
CAN
197.31 3 1
2 Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER
USA
192.65 2 2
3 Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV
RUS
185.94 1 5
4 Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES
FRA
174.65 4 7
5 Kristina ASTAKHOVA / Alexei ROGONOV
RUS
174.52 5 6
6 Tarah KAYNE / Danny O’SHEA
USA
173.50 8 3
7 Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN
USA
171.95 7 4
8 Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK
ITA
169.69 6 8

2016 Skate America Pairs Short Program

Group 1

Marchei/Hotarek, ITA: 33.97 TES + 28.52 PCS = 62.49 

  • They both put a hand down on the side by side triple lutzes
  • Decent twist
  • She could stretch her front leg more on the first lift but great control from her changing positions to her back with no hand support
  • Cartwheel into a throw triple lutz with a great ride out on the landing
  • They could both use more flexibility on some of their side by side spin positions but they have good timing
  • She really shines in this program and it plays to everything she does well performance wise
  • A little loss of unison in places in the look of their step sequence
  • Getting a little flat and slow at the end of the death spiral

Tarasova/Morozov, RUS: 41.54 TES + 33.70 PCS = 75.24 and into 1st place 

  • Gorgeous triple twist and he catches her way above his head and sets her down with ease
  • Side by side triple salchows
  • Great throw triple loop with nice height and speed in and out of it
  • Good death spiral position for her
  • Great over the head entry into a hip hold with a great split position for her
  • I love that even though there is a significant height difference between them, she skates so big you don’t see it during their performance
  • Pretty good unison throughout their side by side spins
  • This music is so much fun and they do a great job with the choreography but I would love a little more performance

Kayne/O’Shea, USA: 30.83 TES + 28.10 PCS -1.00 = 57.93 and into 3rd place 

  • Nice death spiral position holding the arch throughout
  • Nice twist but catching her a little low
  • Triple salchows just a little down on one side for her
  • Nice transitional lift to really highlight the music
  • Cartwheel into a throw triple lutz but she never had a chance to get her feet under her on the landing
  • I love the choreography in this program and the commitment they put into their performance
  • Nice stretch in the lift positions
  • Pretty good unison on the side by side spins
  • Overall the program just seemed to need a bit more speed and power through their blades which would have helped with the jump landings and the GOEs on a lot of the elemements

James/Cipres, FRA: 34.84 TES + 30.94 PCS = 65.78 and into 2nd place 

  • Pretty clean catch on the triple twist but they could use a bit more height
  • Good side by side triple salchows
  • Dive into a nice throw triple flip with both arms over her head–great highlight moment
  • A bit of a stall in the first lift but it didn’t effect the movement of her position
  • Nice death spiral but she really flattens out after the change of hand
  • I like the intricacy of their patterns in the step sequence
  • Good positions and unison through the first half of their side by side spins, lost it a little bit, but got it back

 

Group 2

Seguin/Bilodeau, CAN: 35.96 TES + 30.53 PCS = 66.49 and into 2nd place 

  • She is just adorable and her costume is gorgeous!
  • Really nice triple twist in the air but he catches her just a bit on his shoulder
  • She had a nice triple loop but he popped and had a messy landing
  • They needed to be clean to catch the Russians and they won’t be able to do that today
  • Good throw triple flip
  • Off on the unison of their side by side spins
  • A bit slow on the lift but nice positions
  • Good death spiral position from her with a nice exit out of it
  • I think a little bit more speed and some more intricate choreography in the transitions in and out of elements will give them more of a senior look but I think this program has a lot of room to grow

Denney/Frazier, USA: 37.49 TES + 29.80 PCS = 67.29 and into 2nd place 

  • Really nice entry to the triple twist with a good ease to the element
  • Good throw triple loop with a nice ride out on the landing
  • She two foots the landing on the side by side triple salchow
  • Nice death spiral position for her
  • Interesting arm variations on some of their spins done with nice unison
  • They have such an ease and freedom to their skating that is really nice to watch
  • Great positions for them in the lift with a sideways twisting one arm position for her

Castelli/Tran, USA: 31.20 TES + 29.97 PCS = 61.17 and into 6th place 

  • Nice triple twist but not super clean on the catch
  • Good side by side triple salchows but not in perfect unison
  • Nice throw triple salchow
  • I don’t love the opening music to this program as it’s a totally different tenor and feeling then Fallin and then they transition back to this upbeat music where they’re clapping…it just doesn’t work for me and it’s hard to really get into the program and connect with their story
  • Nice backwards entry into their lift but they had to bring it down very early
  • Very cool double hitchhike turn into their death spiral
  • They definitely left a lot of points on the table with this program and the performance is not there yet which may be due to the stop and go nature of the music

Astakhova/Rogonov, RUS: 35.32 TES + 29.02 PCS = 64.34 and into 5th place 

  • Pretty good triple twist to open their program
  • She steps out of their side by side triple salchows
  • She squeaks out the free leg on the throw triple flip
  • I think sometimes they use skating in opposite directions of the rink to be a transition and I would like to see them go for some more choreography
  • Backward entry to one handed lift and a flip around to a split position
  • Very slow death spiral
  • Pretty good unison on the side by side spins with a great stretched sit position and nice toe point
Pl. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CO IN Ded.
StN.
1 Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS 75.24 41.54 33.70 8.42 8.25 8.58 8.38 8.50 0.00 #2
2 Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER USA 67.29 37.49 29.80 7.50 7.25 7.50 7.46 7.54 0.00 #6
3 Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN 66.49 35.96 30.53 7.71 7.38 7.50 7.75 7.83 0.00 #5
4 Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA 65.78 34.84 30.94 7.71 7.50 7.79 7.75 7.92 0.00 #4
5 Kristina ASTAKHOVA / Alexei ROGONOV RUS 64.34 35.32 29.02 7.29 7.13 7.29 7.29 7.29 0.00 #8
6 Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA 62.49 33.97 28.52 7.17 6.88 7.21 7.17 7.21 0.00 #1
7 Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN USA 61.17 31.20 29.97 7.54 7.46 7.42 7.58 7.46 0.00 #7
8 Tarah KAYNE / Danny O’SHEA USA 57.93 30.83 28.10 7.13 7.00 6.96 7.08 6.96 1.00 #3