Siraj won regionals by a large margin and was a solid 2nd at sectionals. She didn't have a weak season. She was injured most of last season and just started jumping triples a few weeks before Nationals which is likely why she didn't do well. But the season prior to that she was very strong, finishing 2nd at both her JGPs and qualifying for the JGPF, she put up some great scores on the JGP, and finished 8th at senior nationals as a 14 year old. Last season she was generally not skating so well due to the injuries, but both nationally and internationally, Siraj has always been well-received and scores well when she delivers.
I'm not sure I would have placed her 6th at Nationals, but I do think it's fair for her to be sent to JW. If USFS were to send Wang, they'd really also have to send Miller as well, as Miller beat Lam at the JGPF and their placements at Nationals differed by just one spot and one point, and that would mean either Cesario or Hicks would have to be left off the team which doesn't really seem fair given how well they skated at Nationals, they both beat Wang and Miller by a fair point margin. Plus then Yasmin would get nothing for placing 6th at Nationals which would seem a bit unfair because she did do very well and put up a great score. Hicks could have been given 4CCs instead, but then that would mean leaving Gao or Gold off the 4CC team, and Gao really deserves an after-nationals assignment after the season she had and the way she skated at Nationals, and I'm sure USFS wants to give Gracie more experience and exposure before Worlds to see how she stacks up at an event where the field is not a random selection, not to mention it should help ease some of the pressure on her.
So I really think Siraj was a strategic pick after they decided Hicks would be on the JW team, with 2 spots left, they could either give them to Wang and Miller on the basis of JGP success, or go with Siraj and Cesario on the basis of Nationals results. Also, picking Lam for JW on the basis of her strong JGP season last season after she finished behind Wang at Nationals didn't pan out so well, so maybe USFS is wary of that and is trying a new strategy this time around. Wang and Miller are both great skaters, but maybe missing out on JW will give them the push to, for Angela, overcome her SP demons, and for Hannah, work on consistently getting full rotation and more height on her jumps. If they want to do senior GP next season, they probably have the SB scores to get an assured assignment already, and given their successes on the JGP, they might even be able to get 2 assignments due to Worlds Standings and such. No need for doom and gloom for those two. Plus now that Siraj seems to be back to her usual self, I think she will do quite well at JW so long as she can keep the jump mistakes to a minimum.
After following Junior pairs this season and watching nationals, I can't help but feel that we are not sending the strongest pairs teams to junior worlds. Simpson and Blackmer are deserving and are where they should be as juniors. I'm not sure they are suited body wise for seniors, however they should clearly represent the US at Junior Worlds. I feel that Aaron and Settlage would better represent the US vs. Calalang and Sidhu. I know A/S had a bad long at nationals, however It will surprise if Calalang Zidhu finished above the midpoint at junior worlds. They don't have the tech skills and she looks shaky in the lifts, twists , throws and does not have a triple SBS.
Simpson/Blackmer are lovely skaters but there's so little size difference between them, I don't think they really have a future in Seniors (not like he's going to grow at this age). Sorry.
Yeah I'm sort of surprised they have had as much success as they've had. Brittany is 5'3" and for a pairs girl she has a pretty strong build, so it's a little odd she's skating with a guy who is 5'10" and not particularly broad or buff. Rockne is only an inch or two shorter than Matt, and more muscular, and mentioned how he was limited to very small girls as potential partners, I mean, Mary Beth was about 4'9" or 4'10".
FiDs4 -with the new death spiral rules, quite a few teams are not able to get level 4 on any death spirals.
Throw triple loop & Throw triple salchow (they landed all their throws at US Nationals, and the throws had decent size)
They did not seem to be having trouble with their lifts.
2A 2A sequence
They need a sbs triple jump. This is not affected by their relative sizes.
They need a triple twist. This is affected by size.
The problem they'll have is that the skills level of US pairs has improved. Of the top 4 or 5 teams, all have triple twists now, and one if not 2 sbs triples. US pairs aren't top 6 at Worlds material yet, but the field is really quite strong right now.
Calang & Sidhu are another team with no side by side triple, but they do have double axels. They do have a triple twist, although not of the most beautiful quality. Their throws are sometimes iffy, but they have a triple lutz throw and a throw triple salchow, and FiDs3
Aaron & Settlage self destructed about as thoroughly as I have seen any team do, and blew a respectable 3 point lead in the SP down to fourth in the free, and third overall. Calang & Sidhu deserve their spot at Junior Worlds. It isn't like there is anything so far about A&S that makes them stand out that much from the pack of juniors. After all, even in the SP, which they skated cleanly, they were just less than 3 points ahead of B&S and about 5 ahead of C&S (who had some problems with their 2A there).
A&S may really rock it next year. They have an iffy 3S, which is a plus, but both throws in the long went splat, as well as their double axel sequence, and the triple twist wasn't particularly great either. I don't see such talent there that they should be given a free pass to Jr Worlds. Let Calang & Sidhu have their day in the sun. It isn't like the US is going to qualify 3 pairs to Jr Worlds next year whomever they send, or that they will lose a spot either.
Who knows what any of these teams will do in seniors? Every one of them will need to upgrade their skills to make the jump. In the case of A&S, they need the mental toughness skill, not to mention better landings on their throws, and their 3S needs improvement, too.
Calang & Sidhu need a SBS triple and better twist technique.
Simpson & Blackmer need a triple twist and a side by side triple.
It isn't like Junior Worlds is the Olympics, and you have to wait 4 years for the next one.
Yes, I also thought that Simpson/Blackmer were done last season and did not expect them to bounce back like this at Nationals this year, showing really good performances.
I assume that sbs triples are a work in progress.
To be honest, triple twist is the only element which might be impossible for them to perform (or at least really hard) because of size. They do seem to be performing other elements ok. So hopefully as long as she doesn't grow any more and both of them manage their weight really carefully, they can achieve decent results (even if mainly at the national level) in seniors.
Siraj was second at Eastern sectionals, behind Samantha Cesario, first at New England Regionals to qualify for Sectionals. She didn't compete outside the US this season. She's had injuries.
Last time she competed outside the US, it was 2011 JGP Riga, where she finished fifth.
Lackluster is not the word for it.She has overcome several injuries, including a stress reaction in her knee, a broken foot, a fractured wrist and a broken toe.
In 2010, she made the JGPF and finished 7th.
If it were me, I'd send Wang, Miller or Edmunds before I sent Siraj.