Tuesday, February 1, 2011

U.S. Nationals: Pairs Freeskate

I'm only going to be focusing on the final group here, but I have to say that as a whole, the U.S. pairs were much better than I expected them to be. Many years the pairs event is a complete splat fest; the winners are often the team that simply has the least amount of screw ups, and while that is not terribly unusual in skating, the extent to which it is true in pairs can be pretty painful. That said, this year even the earlier groups were rather respectable; some had much less difficult content than others, but for the most part what they did attempt was performed fairly well and I can definitely appreciate that.

That said, onto the final group. 

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett: The neckline of her dress was pretty; the rest of it almost was, but those feathers... Triple twist and side by side triple toes were both fine; not great, but at least done. Their throw triple flip was good, as well as the throw triple loop. Some trouble on the side by side double axel-double axel sequence on Jeremy's part, falling out on the first one, but he was able to do the second one just fine. Side by side spins were actually on the good side, and the lifts were done well enough, but at least one of the positions was kind of ugly. Death spiral was alright, the pairs spiral was ugly, and the pairs spin was okay ( Although I hate pairs spins in general.) Overall they skated pretty cleanly technically, but it wasn't particularly amazing on that front or artistically. They also had a lot of catchfoot moves, which while are good for gaining levels, can be rather unattractive at times and get old quickly. 59.36 TE 58.34 PCS ;117.70 FS =175.49 Total (3rd)

Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker: They also started with a triple twist, but had a collision on the catch, then did an okay side by side triple toe-double toe combo. Unfortunately, Mary Beth tripped while trying to skate next to Rockne (probably getting ready to turn for back crossovers or something) and they both went down. Somehow Rockne managed to get her up into the lift that was only a couple of seconds after that shocking wipeout. The throw double flip was next; was that intended to be a triple? Their pairs spiral was actually rather decent, and their death spiral was pretty, though a little wobbly on the change of hand. Side by side triple salchows and the throw triple loop were both alright; I'm kind of impressed that they're trying side by side sals this early on in the partnership. After a lift with an interesting position, they had side by side spins that got a bit off towards the end, but were decent otherwise and finished up with another good lift and an alright pairs spin. Their inexperience together obviously showed in some areas, but I was really impressed overall; most of the technical was pretty good, especially for only being together five months. They were a pleasing pair to watch visually too; there's some definite potential for this team and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do with more time and development. 55.16 TE 52.29 PCS -2.00; 105.45 FS =163.55 Total (4th)

Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin: They had a pretty strong opening with a good triple twist, solid side by side double axels, a throw triple loop that she had to work for but managed, and a nice side by side triple toe-double toe-double toe combo. Those were followed up with an alright lift, a well done death spiral (though not a variation I'm fond of), and side by side spins they lost some unison at the end. Pairs spiral could be better on his end, but the throw triple salchow after that was lovely. They closed the program with two good lifts and a pairs spin. That was a very elegant, very strong skate with an atmosphere about it. It even silenced the commentators! I nearly teared up at the end, and I'm not a crier. Most everyone who's reading this has probably heard by now, but for those that haven't, this program is in memory of John's late mother, who died just a month after he and Caitlin failed to make the Olympic team. I think it captured the emotions pretty well, and it is easily one of the more artistically moving programs that I've ever seen by an American pair. 61.97 TE 62.18 PCS ;124.15 FS = 188.45 Total (1st)

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig: Good speed right off the start. First element was a triple twist that was good and quite light. Side by side triple toes were pretty solid, and the throw triple flip was alright. The side by side spins got messy at the end but I rather liked the flying sit at the beginning. They had some nice spread eagles to an alright spiral and then the double axel-half loop-double salchow, which was just managed. Their pairs spin was okay but she had to put her hand down on the throw triple loop. The death spiral was in a pretty ugly position, unfortunately, but  their lifts were mostly good, and one was really impressive. It was a pretty nice program overall but not with the same feeling as Yankowskas and Coughlin. 62.09 TE 60.26 PCS ; 122.35 FS = 185.22 Total (2nd)

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