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Knierim and Knierim lead Pairs at U.S. Nationals

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2020 U.S. Nationals

Pairs’ Short Program

Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Christopher Knierim took the lead in the Pairs’ Short Program in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday, followed by Tarah Kayne and Danny OShea and Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc.

Scimeca-Knierim and Knierim were solid in their performance to “At Last,” producing a level 3 triple twist, triple toes, and a very good throw triple Lutz. The lift and spin were graded a level 4 and the 2019 CS Nebelhorn Trophy silver medalists scored 77.06 points. Scimeca-Knierim in particular, was overjoyed, and wore her emotions on her sleeve at the end of the routine.

“I don’t care what people think or say, but for us, it’s been a long road to get here,” said Knierim of their reaction after the skate. “No one sees how much work we put in from day to day and the struggles we have. The reaction after we were done skating shows how we felt about it; we conquered a few demons and hopefully, we’ll take that momentum into the free skate.”

Scimeca-Knierim agreed, adding, “It’s been a long time since we had a performance like this, and that makes us feel alive. The emotions I let out at the end have been bottled up for a while. It’s been a struggle this post-Olympic season. I’ve been waiting for this moment to come again, and I’ve been dreaming about it, and I am proud to be able to put it out today.”

“If it’s Raf (Rafael Arutyunyan), he’s going to tell you you’re horrible,” said Scimeca-Knierim when asked how the coach motivates them. “He’s going to tell you you’re never going to get it.”

Kayne and O’Shea opened their routine to “Claire de Lune” with a level 3 back-inside death spiral. The triple twist wasn’t their best and the team had an underrotation on the triple Salchows, but the the throw triple Salchow was clean. The spin and lift were graded a level 4 and the 2019 CS Golden Spin of Zagreb silver medalists earned 70.35 for their performance for second place.

“Our skating skills have really stepped up for the two of us, and we’re really happy that showed,” said O’Shea. “It was very comfortable, and we were happy to put it out for the first time and look forward to putting it out Saturday.”

Cain-Gribble and LeDuc produced a triple twist and solid triple Salchows, but she put a foot down on the throw triple Lutz and the team lost points on the death spiral when LeDuc repositioned his toe-pick before completing one revolution. The defending champions otherwise showed strong level 4 footwork and change combination spin to score 68.86 points for their routine to “A Storm Is Comin’.”

“We’ve worked really hard for this, and we need to get ready for the long program,” said LeDuc. “It’s a tough program for us, but when the score came up, it was a bit of a surprise. We would like to really make up some ground. We’re excited for a good effort in the long.”

Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson both underrotated the triple Salchows, but produced a good triple twist and throw triple Lutz in their program to “Light of the Seven.” The team also showed a strong level 4 lift and level 3 death spiral to score 67.56 points.

Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov currently sit in fifth (65.06), followed by Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (61.33).