U.S. Nationals Novice Pairs Preview

The novice pairs event often shows deep inequalities in the field.  The technical requirements range from singles to doubles or triples and that can greatly affect the scores.  Some teams will be doing single twists while others will be attempting doubles.  Some teams can only manage single throws while others are working on their doubles.  A lot of these teams are also very young and in new partnerships and learning pairs for the first time. 


Top teams will be smarter about their programs.  Novice competitors are only allowed a throw double in their short program, so they may attempt a throw double axel to maximize their points.  They’ll also be more secure in their lifts and be able to attempt one handed holds and changes of position.  This will really set them apart from the teams that are just moving up to the novice level.


Three teams are returning to the novice level this season and that experience and time together should help them stay on top of the pack.


Fields and Pacini are the reigning Novice Pewter medalists.  They won their sectional by 12 points and set themselves up as favorites in this event.  Shaughnessy and Morgan finished right behind Fields and Pacini at last years nationals and won their sectional event by nearly 40 points.  Liu and Perini won the silver medal at last years nationals and caught the attention of many with her tiny size and big attitude.  She was so small that they had difficulty keeping her on the ice in the pair spin as the momentum lifted her up in the air.  As she gets older and grows, they’ll have to readjust their technique as elements that were simple before will become more challenging.


A new team on the scene that impressed at sectionals is Viola and Johnson.  Alexander Johnson is a seasoned singles competitor, competing nationally at the senior level and internationally as a junior.  


My podium predictions:
Gold: Fields/Pacini
Silver: Shaughnessy/Morgan
Bronze: Viola/Johnson
Pewter: Liu/Perini


Bios of the competitors:
Alexis Donahoe/James Rappold: They won the pewter medal at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Victoria LoRusso/Timothy Habeeb: They won silver at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Alexandria Shaughnessy/James Morgan: They represent the Skating Club of Boston.  They finished 5th in Novice in 2011.  They won gold at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Lianna Thomas/Gene Fu: She is 16 and he is 18.  They won bronze at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Caitlin Fields/Jason Pacini: She is 16 and he is 21.  She represents the Coyote Skating Club of Arizona and he represents the Fort Collins Figure Skating Club.  They are the reigning Novice Pewter Medalists.  They won gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Allison Smith/Anthony Evans: She represents the Dallas Figure Skating Club and he represents the Stars Figure Skating Club of Texas.  They won the pewter medal at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Danielle Viola/Alexander Johnson: She represents the Washington Figure Skating Club and he represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They won silver at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Christina Zaitsev/Ernie Utah Stevens: She is 13 years old.  They represent the Indiana/World Figure Skating Club.  They are the 2010 Juvenile Champions and the 2011 Intermediate Pewter Medalists.  They won bronze at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Hannah Klopstock/Chadwick Phillips: They won the bronze medal at Pacific Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Chelsea Liu/Devin Perini: She is 12 and he is 18.  She represents the Broadmoor Skating Club and he represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  They are the reigning Novice Silver Medalists.  They won gold at Pacific Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Elise Middleton/Robert Hennings:   She is 11 and he is 14.  They are the 2010 Juvenile Pairs Bronze Medalists and 2011 Intermediate Champions.  They won silver at Pacific Sectionals to qualify for nationals.


Nancy Xu/Robert Przepioski: They represent the Peninsula Skating Club.  They won the pewter medal at Pacific Sectionals to qualify for nationals.