US Pairs! Who will be in Sochi?
For the first time in forever, I find myself extremely excited about US pairs and think this will be an exciting event to watch at Nationals. Also the selection will have an added layer of importance with the team event.
Which pairs does everyone think will top the podium? Who would you actually like to see on the podium?
My personal rankings:
1. Castelli and Shnapir- having seen them live, they are just so striking. Their pairs elements are to die for and there's a fearlessness to their skating that's amazing. Also a sentimental favorite since they've been on the scene significantly longer than any of the other pairs
2. Scimeca and Kneirim- technically solid, loads of potential, some lovely positions but have lots of room to grow in PCS
3. Denney & Frazier- a Denney I actually enjoy watching! Who knew?!?! I think the next quad could be big for them.
4. Donlan and Speroff- they have everything except unfortunately consistency with their elements.
Unfortunately I think it will go more like:
1. D/C- it breaks my heart to predict this and I will be utterly delighted to be wrong. Yes they can land jumps but I just find their programs and their attempts at "artistry" (which is basically skating with their mouths open) cringeworthy. However USFSA probably trusts them most to skate clean in the team comp and they've earned that trust. Now if PCS (choreo and interpretation especially) were scored properly, C/S and even s/k with a mistake or two would be about tied with a clean D/C but I digress
2. C/S- I expect them to fight like hell in Boston to defend their title & make the team. I really think she'll pull off the quad at home. They were fabulous in the recent NJ disson show and skated like rock stars who were already Olympic medalists. If they can bring some of that confidence to competition, they could beat any of the current competition.
3. S/K- last year I really believed they could be in the hunt for the title but they don't feel like the same team- think its a combo of his injury and the weight of expectations that weren't there last year. Also the programs are very meh.
Wildcard- K/O. Don't think Z/B are in the Olympic picture barring some insanity
Denney & Coughlin will make the team, and probably regain their title. I really dont see Castelli & Shnapir making it. They could do it, but I think it is a long shot. They peaked last year it seems, their inconsistency has returned, they dont have very high scoring potential either, and the USFSA will be more interested in pushing the up and comers who are already starting to challenge and beat them. I think the USFSA wants it to be Scimeca & Kneirim who they probably see as their best future hope of the current pairs, but if they dont deliver then it could be Denny & Frazier, Castelli & Shnapir, Zhang & Bartholomay, whoever skates best that day.
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I agree with flutzy that it'll be D/C and C/S. If not C/S, then S/K, but if I have to pick one, I'll go with C/S.
Denney/Coughlin will probably win. Castelli/Shnapir have the added pressure of defending their title and have some major question marks surrounding their elements. They really have no choice but to attempt the throw 4S even if it's not a solid element for them (have they ever landed it cleanly?) because the only other throw in their arsenal is the 2A, which doesn't cut it this year. Between that and the fact that they seem very inconsistent again, I'm not sure they have enough, even if some of their pair elements are quite good. I'm not loving the James Bond and Santana music choices for an Olympic year either. They had a great LP last year and I preferred it. Then again, even with their great programs last year, they got beat rather handily by Scimeca/Knierim at Worlds.
I think S/K are our most well-rounded team with the most potential. You could see they didn't have much time to train at fully capacity for their fall events after his summer injury, but there were signs of their confidence returning at Cup of Russia. They have big elements, strong technique, and a nice look together. I think either S/K will do enough for top 2, or C/S might be able to hold on.
The race for the 4CC spots might get pretty crowded, as it seems that there are no clear standouts amongst teams like Denney/Frazier, Zhang/Bartholomay and Donlan/Speroff, and one of the spots is almost surely going to go to whichever one of the 3 top names doesn't make the Olympic team. D/S and D/F regularly have underrotations and downgrades, and Z/B are really hot and cold, yet they're all nice teams and it should be interesting to see how that goes.
Just to be clear on 4CC, in the Olympic year, the entrants are those who do NOT make the Olympic team. For US pairs then, that would most likely be the teams that place 3, 4, 5. This makes for both valuable post Nationals competition experience as well as the chance to earn valuable ISU championship points in an event which is not as competitive as usual.
I really would like to see Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff make it! They are so beautiful to watch and when they're "on" they embody everything which pairs skating should be.
OMG! I totally agree with you there! I wish they were more consistent. They would totally amp it up for US pairs skating. Love this team and would love for them to go to the Olympics and have the skate of their lives in both segments! Cheers!
I totally agree about Donlan and Speroff. I think many are underestimating them and I am hoping they surprise everyone at Nationals this year. They have really stepped it up this season, their jumping is much more consistent and their throws in the FS at Ice challenge were world class. Hopefully this season has given them the confidence they need to skate their best. Hard to believe that next to Castelli and Schnapir they have the longest pair relationship. Would love to see it pay off for them.
D/S are beautiful and its a shame they didn't capitalize on their momentum after 2012 Nationals- especially given that all 3 teams that placed above them were not at 2013 Nats, they could have really fought C/S for the title. Instead, they imploded frequently in the fall, had no momentum going into Omaha, got totally eclipsed by their training mates last season and ended up with no Olympic season GP assignments. I think any Boston political pull/home team bump (which I think will exist at this SCOB hosted Nats) will go (rightfully) to C/S- although they've failed to truly capitalize on their momentum from last season as well. While I don't think D/S make the Olympic team (barring something strange- which can totally happen in US pairs), I hope they have good performances, go to 4CC and stick around.
Originally Posted by jcmerman
I agree that C/S had better programs last year. The SP starts off well enough and is actually quite similar to last year until the bizarre Smooth cut just ruins it. The tango was just a really good vehicle for them and it seemed to particularly work for him. Skyfall isn't bad though and I think it could be very good skated clean. But even if the programs were better last year, their programs are still miles better than their Colorado competition. I think TSL compared the Delilah teams' programs to Walmart and the Boston pairs to Macy's and that's largely accurate.
Originally Posted by gold12345
I still feel like they were completely hosed in the free skate at Worlds last year- they skated as clean if not cleaner than 4CC and NHK and scored significantly lower. And while I understood S/K beating them on TES and thought S/K should have led them by a wider margin after a clean short, I did not at all understand how they beat them on PCS by a significant margin (or at all) for that pretty but very simple Life is Beautiful program.
What happened in the LP scoring at Worlds was simple. S/K with their clean short ended up narowly beating C/S with their fall for 12th place in the short, the cut off point for the 2nd flight vs the 1st flight. C/S ended up drawing 1st in the LP to skate, while S/K were 7th. This greatly reduced the PCS and probably even the TES (GOE points) of C/S in comparision. There is no other way to explain for instance how C/S with a fall in the SP still easily beat S/K in PCS, yet in the LP had PCS about 5 points lower. Obviously it was all down to the draw, and being a LP draw the judges knowing stronger skaters are always coming later. Had S/K skated 1st and C/S 7th the LP scores would have probably been roughly reversed, if not even further in favor of C/S than they were S/K.
Donlan/Speroff have skated some of their personal best efforts this season, but they haven't scored that well (even for their better skates) in part because their base value is low. They lose levels on all different elements-- at their most recent event, Ice Challenge, they had lower levels all over the place. They only did a 3TwB and a Lvl 2 lift in the LP, a Lvl 1 death spiral in both the SP & LP. Their triple twist looks fine in the air, but they don't tend to score so well on it because the catch is heavy.
As for the high risk elements... They aren't consistent, but this season they've probably gotten more jumps to their feet than ever before (they've really come a long way). But Gretchen is still noticeably under-rotating the 3Ts practically every time (they received full credit once this year), and the 2A got downgraded at both their Sr Bs. All these things are adding up and killing their scores. If I recall correctly, their LP at Ice Challenge was pretty well skated, yet they barely outscored Kayne/O'Shea (who fell twice) because of the underrotation issues and other points that were thrown away. A 106 just isn't good for a well skated LP. They are a lovely and enjoyable team, and yet frustrating.
D/S have improved quite a bit throughout the years and hopefully in the next quad they will keep getting better. An Olympic berth is a real stretch, but I'd like to see them get a 4CC spot and get on the GP next year. It may be a battle to get a 4CC spot though. I'm not sure if they'll have to pull a rabbit out of the hat and start to fully rotate jumps (they did pull off 4th place in 2012 with the bare minimum jumping), but they might.