2020-21 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating

BlissfulSynergy

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^^ For sure. Thanks for your thoughts @skylark.

Todd and Jenni are favorites of mine as competitors back-in-the-day. I have tremendous respect for both of them. They have been doing a wonderful job for years with all of their teams. They learned competitive skating and a lot about coaching under the tutelage of a very good pairs skater and a great coach, John Nicks!

One of the difficulties in this sport is the tough ups-and-downs. Breaking through as an individual skater is hard enough, but two partners can go through a lot. So coaches have to just hang in there. What I love most about Jenni & Todd is revealed in what both of their winning teams had to say about them during the pairs press conference at 2020 Nationals: Todd and Jenni care about their skaters as people first and foremost! They want their skaters to be doing well as human beings first. The skating is important but takes a backseat to being alright physically and emotionally.

TeamTodd&Jenni were a great pairs team, especially artistically. They were so enjoyable to watch. I still fondly recall their performances at 1995 Worlds in Birmingham, England. They laid an important foundation for U.S. pairs as competitors and even more as coaches who have been working hard for years helping their skaters as people and as competitive athletes!


Thanks for sharing about the recent interview with Ash & Timothy. I saw a bit of the first part. I'll have to find time to go back and finish viewing the full interview. :)
 

skylark

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^^ For sure. Thanks for your thoughts @skylark.

Todd and Jenni are favorites of mine as competitors back-in-the-day. I have tremendous respect for both of them. They have been doing a wonderful job for years with all of their teams. They learned competitive skating and a lot about coaching under the tutelage of a very good pairs skater and a great coach, John Nicks!

One of the difficulties in this sport is the tough ups-and-downs. Breaking through as an individual skater is hard enough, but two partners can go through a lot. So coaches have to just hang in there. What I love most about Jenni & Todd is revealed in what both of their winning teams had to say about them during the pairs press conference at 2020 Nationals: Todd and Jenni care about their skaters as people first and foremost! They want their skaters to be doing well as human beings first. The skating is important but takes a backseat to being alright physically and emotionally.

TeamTodd&Jenni were a great pairs team, especially artistically. They were so enjoyable to watch. I still fondly recall their performances at 1995 Worlds in Birmingham, England. They laid an important foundation for U.S. pairs as competitors and even more as coaches who have been working hard for years helping their skaters as people and as competitive athletes!


Thanks for sharing about the recent interview with Ash & Timothy. I saw a bit of the first part. I'll have to find time to go back and finish viewing the full interview. :)

The second half of the Ashley/Tim interview has more answers that reveal things they hadn't mentioned before. So interesting to anyone involved in struggles with any creative pursuit, or anything with a performance aspect, which when you come right down to it, can be nearly any job. What's a breeze to some may be stressful for others. And A & T talk about the emotional aspect.

I'll never forget Jenni and Todd's SP at the 1994 Olympics, which was awesome and showed their joy and charisma. I've never (yet) been able to find it on video.

When labgoat posted the pairs videos from 1993 Worlds a few months ago, I watched straight through (I'd never seen them). Jenni and Todd were contenders, and they'd only been partners less than a year -- having fallen in love at 1992 Olympics, broken up with their then partners, and formed their partnership.

One thing that struck me then is how perfect it is for them to be coaching Alexa and Brandon to hopefully get to the 2022 Olympics in less than two years ... because that's exactly what Jenni and Todd were able to do. And they came in fifth in 1994 Olys ... which, considering that Gordeeva & Grinkov reinstated for it, and Olympic champions Mishkutenok and Dmitriev also competed and came in second, was a real feat.

I love that emphasis on doing well as a human being. Also, M/T learned about artistry from the best: John Nicks.
 

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... BTW, there have been some glimpses on social media of Max Fernandez (former U.S. junior champ with Joy Weinberg) -- training again as part of Team Peterson and Evora (both before and after their move to Michigan).

I vaguely recall (but am not 100% sure) that both Joy and Max announced their joint retirement way back when ... but anyway, he has a new partner [ETA (on Sep 5): per his Insta bio]. ....

Continuing the update on 2016 U.S. junior champion Max Fernandez:

His new partner is Valentina Plazas, who won the silver medal in junior ladies at U.S. Collegiates in July 2019 (after winning the free skate).
She was the 2018 U.S. Collegiates novice ladies champion.
She has competed also at U.S. regionals (e.g., in junior ladies in Oct 2019, and in novice ladies in Oct 2018).

Valentina is Colombian-American, and she gave an interview (approx. three minutes) in Spanish that was published today.
I don't understand Spanish, but I believe that she said that the new partnership is shooting for the 2026 Olympics in Italy.

At one point, she was saying something about "junior" and then "senior."
I could be completely wrong, but I think(?) she might have said that their plan is to start as juniors (at nationals) before moving up to seniors. (They are too old to compete internationally as juniors.)

My guess is that she was referring to U.S. Nationals (as opposed to another country's). But I am not 100% sure.
ETA (on Sep 11):
The interview came to my attention via Max's Instastory, to which he had attached a sticker of the U.S. flag, if that is a good indication.​

I hope that someone who understands Spanish will watch the interview and chime in. :pray:


Bits from the new Lu/Mitrofanov article on Fan Zone:

Their new FS music: Charlie Chaplin.
SP will be "The Show Must Go On" from Moulin Rouge! (with upgrades since 2020 Nats).

They plan to compete in both rounds of the ISP Points Challenge, and they are aiming for a spot at Skate America.​

(The article does not mention moving to Skating Club of Boston.)


Reminder that live streaming of Colorado Springs Invitational starts tomorrow, with Finster/Nagy and other senior pairs as entries.
 

gordana

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My Spanish is basic, I didn't understand everything. But it is sure that Valentina said that switching to pairs skating is a great opportunity to represent US internationally and their main goal is Olympics 2026. Now they are competing in junior level but after achieving good results in the next year they want to move up to seniors and start their way to their big goal. Also she said that pairs skating elements are very difficult and so far she is learning them step by step.
It was mentioned by the speaker that Vlentina and Max are coahed by Jim Petersen and Amanda Evora.
 

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My Spanish is basic, I didn't understand everything. But it is sure that Valentina said that switching to pairs skating is a great opportunity to represent US internationally and their main goal is Olympics 2026. Now they are competing in junior level but after achieving good results in the next year they want to move up to seniors and start their way to their big goal. Also she said that pairs skating elements are very difficult and so far she is learning them step by step.
It was mentioned by the speaker that Vlentina and Max are coahed by Jim Petersen and Amanda Evora.

Many thanks to gordana :thank: for nailing down these points.
And good luck to Valentina and Max. :yay:


Coming up on Tue Sep 15: USFS will post the first batch of Junior Pairs videos and scores from the ISP Points Challenge.

Not saying that all of the following will take part in their first opportunity of the Challenge, but Junior Pairs on the USFS ISP list are:

Cate Fleming and Jedidiah Isbell
Isabelle Martins and Ryan Bedard
Haley Scott and Nick Hubbart (apparently added quite recently)
Anastasiia Smirnova and Danil Siianytsia​


ETA (on Sep 15):

For Junior Pairs, first round of virtual ISP Points Challenge videos and results were published today.

Participants (listed in skate order): Martins/Bedard; Fleming/Isbell


For Senior Pairs, first round will be published on Tue Sep 22.​
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Can someone explain the scoring format for the ISP Points Challenge?

Is the second round for senior pairs going to consist of the first group's short programs? Why would they show the free skates before the short programs??? Or have the senior pairs short programs simply not been uploaded yet? This is all so confusing and I wish the federation would be more forthcoming and efficient.

Watching the posted free skates of the top U.S. pairs teams was interesting. It was difficult to score because many of the teams made mistakes. I suppose it's understandable to be a bit rusty. Still, there were a lot of new lifts, holds and difficult entries and dismounts. A lot of things need tightening up and polishing though, particularly on some of the newer elements.

It's clear that the top three finishers are the class of the field, but I would not have Cain-Gribble/LeDuc 10 points behind Alexa/Brandon. Although C-G/L were somewhat tight on their jump landings, they did land their jumps. I wonder if they were dinged for under-rotations? I didn't notice any. C-G/L to my eyes skated more cleanly on the jumps, they added new & difficult lifts, and they had wonderful music and choreo, just as the top two teams did. To be fair, if they can relax and perform clean jumps like they do in practice, Calalang/Johnson and Knierim/Frazier do have that extra pizzazz and panache to their skating and that must be what the judges are rewarding. Still, I feel that C-G/L are right up there in talent and ability. Kayne/O'Shea are good too, but just much slower without as much pop, though they are working hard and doing everything as usual to be very competitive.
 

readernick

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Can someone explain the scoring format for the ISP Points Challenge?

Is the second round for senior pairs going to consist of the first group's short programs? Why would they show the free skates before the short programs??? Or have the senior pairs short programs simply not been uploaded yet? This is all so confusing and I wish the federation would be more forthcoming and efficient.

Watching the posted free skates of the top U.S. pairs teams was interesting. It was difficult to score because many of the teams made mistakes. I suppose it's understandable to be a bit rusty. Still, there were a lot of new lifts, holds and difficult entries and dismounts. A lot of things need tightening up and polishing though, particularly on some of the newer elements.

It's clear that the top three finishers are the class of the field, but I would not have Cain-Gribble/LeDuc 10 points behind Alexa/Brandon. Although C-G/L were somewhat tight on their jump landings, they did land their jumps. I wonder if they were dinged for under-rotations? I didn't notice any. C-G/L to my eyes skated more cleanly and they had wonderful music and choreo, just as the top two teams did. To be fair, if they can relax and perform clean jumps Calalang/Johnson and Knierim/Frazier do have that extra pizzazz and panache to their skating and that must be what the judges are rewarding. Still, I feel that C-G/L are right up there in talent and ability. Kayne/O'Shea are good too, but just much slower without as much pop, though they are working hard and doing everything as usual to be very competitive.
The SPs. are also posted on the same website. In terms of scoring, I think some of the point difference came from the SP. I also enjoyed CG/L, LP in terms of choreo and matching lines. But their pair elements just aren't as good. SBS jumps just don't matter as much in the scoring of pairs. Lifts, twists, and throws are more important. CG/L have a comparative weakness in these elements.
 

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Can someone explain the scoring format for the ISP Points Challenge?
It's very simple:
"... Entrants will submit videos of their short program/rhythm dance and free skate/free dance to be judged by a panel of national, international and ISU-level officials. ... If they choose, athletes have two opportunities compete and will be ranked by their best total score in each discipline."

... Is the second round for senior pairs going to consist of the first group's short programs? ...
No.

... Why would they show the free skates before the short programs??? Or have the senior pairs short programs simply not been uploaded yet? ...
What happened is that the original upload of the Senior Pairs SP was taken down from Fan Zone. (I watched some of it there before it was taken down.)
USFS already has been forthcoming in explaining: "*Due to post-production error, these are in the process of being reuploaded."
 

BlissfulSynergy

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The SPs. are also posted on the same website. In terms of scoring, I think some of the point difference came from the SP. I also enjoyed CG/L, LP in terms of choreo and matching lines. But their pair elements just aren't as good. SBS jumps just don't matter as much in the scoring of pairs. Lifts, twists, and throws are more important. CG/L have a comparative weakness in these elements.

Yes a bit they do, but not by that much. If the top two teams hadn't made jump errors, there's no question about the scoring. In fact, C/J and K/F look to be battling it out for the top spot down the road because they are both great and it's very exciting. I absolutely get why C/J and K/F are on top. Of course, the short programs factor in and they simply aren't there so that part was confusing to me as well. (shaking my head at all these glitches and technical snafus, and the lack of great communication readily accessible for fans -- the US fanzone site is not user friendly either).

Anyway, I love C/J and the new team of Knierim/Frazier!!! Plus, I'm happy for Meno/Sand who have been working hard for years as coaches, and were wonderful pairs skaters themselves. I remember. :) The quality of top two teams is at a very high level. But I would not be so dismissive @readernick regarding the importance of landing jumps in pairs, especially in international competition. I think Alexa/ Brandon's couple of jump snafus were due to slightly tight nerves by Alexa. They are still a new pair too, but they have come together really quickly and they look great. They may even be the stronger jumpers if they get the nerves settled. C/J though have a lot of magic on most everything except the jumps, which they are capable of landing, but seem to have difficulty in mastering consistently. For both top teams, they need to get the jump rust out. I know it's the start of an unusual season, but they have to try and relax and get consistency on those jumps because both teams have everything else. K/F are just new and have to build momentum, which won't be hard for them to achieve.

Honestly, C-G/L get a bad rap though. They steadily improved, and they are showing the hard work they did in the off-season with their new lifts and overall tweaks. They have to work harder at the lifts in being smoother and steadier on them, but I see their improvement. They looked fabulous at the start of last season, but they lost confidence and momentum at the most inopportune moments. I believe the setbacks they had on the GP circuit last season maybe colors how they are now viewed. Skate America was theirs to win, or at least strongly challenge, and they faltered. Sometimes, it's hard to climb back into good graces and to repair your own confidence after setbacks. They have a disadvantage on lifts and on how they are perceived due to the way some people look down on Ashley's height. But I like the way Ashley and Timothy embrace their unique differences and maximize their strengths to overcome obstacles.

Thanks for responding to my questions!
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I wonder how it will pan out though if every team doesn't compete in the second round?

Did they say when they will reupload the pairs short programs? There always seems to be technical glitches with the pairs (which happened during U.S. Nationals sp broadcast on NBCGold in January).
 

gold12345

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It's clear that the top three finishers are the class of the field, but I would not have Cain-Gribble/LeDuc 10 points behind Alexa/Brandon. Although C-G/L were somewhat tight on their jump landings, they did land their jumps. I wonder if they were dinged for under-rotations? I didn't notice any. C-G/L to my eyes skated more cleanly on the jumps, they added new & difficult lifts, and they had wonderful music and choreo, just as the top two teams did. To be fair, if they can relax and perform clean jumps like they do in practice, Calalang/Johnson and Knierim/Frazier do have that extra pizzazz and panache to their skating and that must be what the judges are rewarding. Still, I feel that C-G/L are right up there in talent and ability. Kayne/O'Shea are good too, but just much slower without as much pop, though they are working hard and doing everything as usual to be very competitive.

Cain/LeDuc lose points on things that might be less obvious, such are underrotations, missed levels, twist mechanics, etc. They popped their throw salchow into a double. Their 3S was definitely under-rotated, and then Ashley left off the third jump of the combo while Tim did his. They routinely miss levels and have questionable rotations. Tim uses his shoulder to help "catch" Ashley from the twist. They don't have the twist height or lift quality of the top 2. Their lifts don't cover much ice. Not that Calalang/Johnson have big throws either, but Cain/LeDuc definitely don't have a lot of height or distance on theirs, and she regularly lands with her chest down low. I think she's gotten better at disguising it, but it's pretty much just how she does throws. Some people call it "picking on her for being tall", but it's just reality that being tall makes pairs harder. She's a beautiful girl and there's obviously nothing at all wrong with being tall, it's just not advantageous in modern day pair skating. I think they do a good job with what they have. The level of their pair elements is more comparable to Kayne/O'Shea than the top 2.

Anyway, I love C/J and the new team of Knierim/Frazier!!! Plus, I'm happy for Meno/Sand who have been working hard for years as coaches, and were wonderful pairs skaters themselves. I remember. :) The quality of top two teams is at a very high level. But I would not be so dismissive @readernick regarding the importance of landing jumps in pairs, especially in international competition. I think Alexa/ Brandon's couple of jump snafus were due to slightly tight nerves by Alexa. They are still a new pair too, but they have come together really quickly and they look great. They may even be the stronger jumpers if they get the nerves settled. C/J though have a lot of magic on most everything except the jumps, which they are capable of landing, but seem to have difficulty in mastering consistently. For both top teams, they need to get the jump rust out. I know it's the start of an unusual season, but they have to try and relax and get consistency on those jumps because both teams have everything else. K/F are just new and have to build momentum, which won't be hard for them to achieve.

I'm happy for Meno & Sand too. They've created healthy competition between their two top pairs. I didn't even notice Calalang/Johnson in their first season together because they were so rough, but they've improved a great deal. They completely botched both jumping passes in the LP here and yet still left a strong impression.

And Meno & Sand also deserve credit for getting Knierim/Frazier ready this quickly. It's unusual for a pair to be this strong barely 4 months into a partnership. And it's not as if they've been training at full speed for 4 months-- some of that was spent just getting back from a quarantine. Their twist and lifts are already really strong. Their throw 3Lo is massive. The one element where they are leaving several points on the table is the Throw 3F, one of Alexa's best elements, but one that Brandon has never done before and isn't used to. It takes time to mesh techniques.

I think they will end up being the most consistent jumpers among the top US pairs, it's just right now they're brand new and still figuring things out. Alexa doesn't usually miss a 3S badly, and it could have something to do with changing her jump entry to match what Brandon's comfortable with. But maybe it could have been nerves too, or simply having hardly ever skated full run-throughs together. It can't be easy to be thrown into a competition while you're still getting used to your new partner, but instead they looked pretty calm. I already like their demeanor together more than I did with Alexa & Chris where they sometimes seemed a bundle of nerves. Their 3Ts were solid both programs, he just took off faster than her, so they need more time with that. I couldn't ask for much more from them after so little time together. To me these two pairs were the clear 2 best, and the scores reflected that.
 
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skylark

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I wonder how it will pan out though if every team doesn't compete in the second round?

Did they say when they will reupload the pairs short programs? There always seems to be technical glitches with the pairs (which happened during U.S. Nationals sp broadcast on NBCGold in January).
I haven't had any trouble viewing both Pairs SP and FS. Will comment tomorrow perhaps; suffice to say I agree with much of what you've said about Ashley and Tim. I love both their programs already, but I don't think the FS is quite ready; the second half seems even less ready. For what it's worth, I think their choreography is both difficult and featuring a lot of new steps and moves; and I have a feeling they've been focusing on getting it down first. Also, their footwork in both programs has returned to being more unison, which I love and am so excited about; I've been hoping they'd do exactly that. I expect their lifts to improve dramatically as the season progresses. We shall see.

Here's a link to the Pairs SP. Hope it works. https://www.collegesportslive.com/v...e-senior-pairs-sp-opp-1-20200923044643891108/
 

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... Did they say when they will reupload the pairs short programs? There always seems to be technical glitches with the pairs (which happened during U.S. Nationals sp broadcast on NBCGold in January).

Update: The reuploading on Fan Zone has been completed for Senior Pairs SP. :)

(Reuploading was necessary also for Ladies, and it too has been completed. The NBC Gold glitch with Pairs SP for Nats would have been just a coincidence, apparently?)
 
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readernick

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But I would not be so dismissive @readernick regarding the importance of landing jumps in pairs, especially in international competition.
Actually, I do think it is important to land your jumps in pairs especially in international competition when competing against the Russian and Chinese pairs teams. I am sorry if I sounded dismissive. I just think that casual viewers of pair's skating don't understand why some teams who do land jumps don't score as highly as other teams who may have made jump errors.

I am sorry that my response about the SP's was not accurate. I was able to watch both pairs SPs and LPs so I thought the SP programs were still available but they had been taken down by the time I responded to your message. As @ice coverage mentioned they are now available again. I really liked Callang/Johnson's SP.
 

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Update: The reuploading on Fan Zone has been completed for Senior Pairs SP. :)

(Reuploading was necessary also for Ladies, and it too has been completed. The NBC Gold glitch with Pairs SP for Nats would have been just a coincidence, apparently?)

Firstly, thanks to everyone for your generous replies, which I appreciate very much!

Regarding NBCGold's coverage of 2020 U.S. pairs, there was an avoidable technical snafu where they still had the set-up for lower level events where there's no audio commentary and no close-ups in the kiss-n-cry. It was soooo disappointing and annoying because pairs is my fave discipine. Tanith and Charlie White did provide audio commentary for the short programs, but it wasn't included on the stream, and that was purely a mistake. We saw the television camera covering the skaters in the kiss-n-cry from the distant camera feed, but the tech crew simply neglected to change to kiss-n-cry camera coverage with audio commentary. The mistake was admitted somewhere, but not on NBCGold. I don't remember whether Tanith and Charlie referenced the mistake when we did hear them cover the pairs FS. It was a real downer though, because the sp issue was never corrected and reuploaded. It's just one example of incompetent and careless treatment toward figure skating fans by the networks, *ISU and U.S.fed. It's also indicative of the Mom/Pop nature of how figure skating has been run since forever.

*I know ISU has nothing to do with U.S. domestic broadcasts. I am referencing the ISU's out-of-date, overly political and conflicted, often bonehead lack of leadership, even though I know they are trying in some respects.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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I haven't had any trouble viewing both Pairs SP and FS. Will comment tomorrow perhaps; suffice to say I agree with much of what you've said about Ashley and Tim. I love both their programs already, but I don't think the FS is quite ready; the second half seems even less ready. For what it's worth, I think their choreography is both difficult and featuring a lot of new steps and moves; and I have a feeling they've been focusing on getting it down first. Also, their footwork in both programs has returned to being more unison, which I love and am so excited about; I've been hoping they'd do exactly that. I expect their lifts to improve dramatically as the season progresses. We shall see.

Here's a link to the Pairs SP. Hope it works. https://www.collegesportslive.com/v...e-senior-pairs-sp-opp-1-20200923044643891108/

Thank you so much @skylark. I saw a link somewhere to this site, but I thought that I had to register before viewing, even though it says streams are free.

Thanks to you too @ice coverage for noting that fan zone has reuploaded the pairs short programs. :)

I definitely have a sentimental attachment to Ashley & Timothy. They progressed very rapidly when they came together, and I was so happy for them having another chance to build a successful pairs career. I remember them competing against each other in junior pairs at 2011 U.S, Nationals, which was such a great event. It's a real keeper, so I wish it was still available archived somewhere.

There are so many current names who competed at that event, including Chris Knierim with his previous partner before he met Alexa; Haven & Brandon were very young and were skating with different partners then because I believe Haven's family had moved to Florida from Colorado which led to them splitting. H&B realized soon after that competition that they should get back together, which they did and they later won 2013 Junior Worlds under John Zimmerman. Josh Santillan skated at the 2011 U.S. junior pairs event with Olivia Oltmanns (another pairs girl who grew beautifully tall, but then had to retire I believe the year after she and Josh turned senior); a young Jessica Calalang was at that event too with Zach Sidhu -- they were cute together and they had a lot of promise. It's just a fun memory lane event to look at. Ashley was first with Josh Reagan; Chris Knierim was second with Andrea Poapst, and Timothy LeDuc was third with Cassie Andrews.
 
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