2020-21 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating

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Mr Rice you actually had a reason to think that, because this article from March 2020 said that Haven was stepping away from competitive figure skating.

"With both Chris and Haven Denney, Frazier's longtime partner, stepping away from competitive figure skating, Knierim and Frazier have announced their partnership ahead of the 2020-21 season."


But there were no quotes from Haven in the article, and if in fact she was retiring, it appears she may have changed her mind :)

A rule of thumb for me is that "stepping away" is not necessarily synonymous with a decision to retire.

And I think it was a bad idea for the Fan Zone article to speak of Chris and Haven in the same breath when it used the ambiguous phrase.

A pertinent quote from Haven was in NBC's Mar 25 article about the end of D/F's partnership:

... Frazier plans to continue skating, while Denney said through U.S. Figure Skating that she wants to keep all of her options open:
“I support Brandon and his decision to continue competitive skating with another partner,” Denney said. “I want Brandon to be able to reach his goals and full potential and I will support him no matter what. I’m still trying to figure out what’s next for me. I want to keep all my options opened, whether it be competitive or professional skating. ....” ...



It would be no change in tune on Haven's part for her to explore any possible new partnership.



- Mission accomplished for Chan/Howe's move to Boston, per Emily's Insta post today.
(They also competed at Boston Open over the weekend. [ETA (on Sep 29): Their FS score there exceeded their ISP Points Challenge first round FS score.])​

- BTW, I don't know much about pairs, but if Tarah/Danny want to start fresh and think outside the box ... Skating Club of Boston's new facility looks beautiful.
(And it has an on-site sports medicine clinic.)

Ganicheva/Letov now are coaching there.
SCOB coaches also include Shnapir and (separately) Castelli. Plus Jimmy Morgan; plus the team of Melanie Lambert and Fred Palascak, who are Fleming/Isbell's coaches.​



... If you have some links to more interview chat shows, I'd love to try them. ...

Also related to Skating Club of Boston:

I enjoyed Jimmy's series of interviews conducted during quarantine. The series is archived on a combination of SCOB's IGTV and YouTube channel. (IIRC: Not every interview is on both platforms, but SCOB's website will lead to all of them.)

The ones I watched all were very good: Shnapir; Fleming/Isbell; Lambert/Palascak; Max Naumov; Hazel Collier.

I have not watched the one with Castelli, plus there might have been a few more.​

skylark, my thanks again to you for your recent thread devoted to Scott Hamilton's quarantine interviews. :)
 
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Hyena

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Thanks. I caught that part of TSL's recent broadcast. Dave isn't always accurate in his speculations and observations, despite having insider sources. He does have a good track record on gossip scoops, due to some of the insider sources he has. I agree with his views here and there, but mostly I take his OTT shtick with a large grain of salt. He is passionate about what he believes in regarding figure skating and gymnastics, but he doesn't seem to leave much room for kindness or more thoughtful analyses that takes different factors and circumstances into consideration. The TSL broadcasts are difficult to sit through, but I occasionally make the effort in order to discover some actual news and/or interesting observations. Unfortunately, there is way too much rambling and an overblown tendency for both Dave & co-host, Jonathan, to make their commentary so much about their own egos and preferences, rather than taking a step back sometimes to be less harsh and snarky. Dave has tried to tone down a bit of the snark, but TSL is what it is, until and unless more and better figure skating news coverage comes along.
I think you hit the nail on the head with the issue with TSL. They can actually be pretty accurate in the news they put out before it's official, but Dave speaks as the ultimate authority, like his opinions are total fact (even when he contradicts himself later), and then speculates/spreads minor pieces of misinformation in support of those opinions.
Charlie and Tanith are an exquisite commentary team. They listen to each other; they'll take time, half a minute or more, to consider and answer each other's questions. And they always are supportive to the athletes.
Agreed! I wish NBC let them commentate together more often.
They could.

And remember, Ashley and Tim won the bronze medal at US nationals in their debut year. They'd only been partnered since the previous May. Deanna and Nate came in fourth, with the identical time as partners.

Back on the topic of US Pairs: I've often thought that the US has breadth in pairs (more senior internationally competing pairs than many countries) but little depth, as the good pairs tend to trade spots and hover around a similar tier. That's actually an opportunity for a new, but talented pair like Alexa and Brandon if they can get their timing down and consistency in competition. So I think it's very possible they could even win Nationals this year. But I also think Jessica and Brian are looking stronger and stronger and have a confidence boost from last season that could set them apart.
 

skylark

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I don't disagree with most of Dave's critiques about the pairs event. In general, he was fair. I just feel that his phrasing and approach (as well as his eye-rolling expressions) are often too OTT and unrelenting. IOW, he makes statements that don't take extenuating factors into consideration. He sometimes makes blanket, dismissive observations rather than offering constructive critiques. At the same time, I do think he has a good eye and substantial knowledge about figure skating, and he's clearly passionate about the sport. He approached his critique of K/F's fp music and performance with some fair qualifications, but I personally don't agree that their fp music is unsuitable. It works (as he conceded) for a debut program for a new pair. Plus, K/F are showing a connection. I'm not sure that Chris was necessarily more demonstrative and expressive than Brandon either. To me, they have a similar vibe in terms of expressiveness. And Alexa & Brandon smile a lot at each other, so they already seem to have a good connection. It will be a journey for them in coming together more fully, and that's the nature of a new partnership. They've already made a lot of progress in a short time.

IMO, Dave has attempted to tone down some of the snark. I get that he is catering toward being entertaining with his shtick. Still, his views are stated like the last word, which can be unfair and off-putting. For eg., while his critique of Tarah/Danny is generally accurate, the eye-rolling and blanket statements are a bit harsh. Too often, he seems to position his aesthetic views as the 'gold standard.'
I agree with nearly all of this.

I was wondering what made Alexa and Brandon go for the romantic vibe in the FS especially. Maybe it just seemed natural to them ... and also of course Jenni and Todd are partial to highlighting romance in programs. I think it would be more interesting not to go with the romantic programs, personally. Who knows, maybe they'll make it work even for me ... but I didn't really like the super-romantic Alexa/Chris programs either. If they were playing characters (i.e. like G&G's Porgy and Bess, or even their Rodin sculptures), that would be better for me personally. I like the story aspect of figure skating. If Alexa and Brandon are going to portray romance by acting, I'm not all that thrilled either. But it takes a long time to develop a pair's comfort and skill with it, I would think.

Whatever A&B do theme-wise, most audience members and probably judges aren't going to care nearly as much as they care about the technical elements. It's just me. I like things organic, emotions coming from the inside out and connected to the music. But they should and will portray whatever they want to portray.
 

el henry

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It was made clear around the time of the split announcement that Haven was still interested in pursuing possible opportunities to continue competing, despite the 'stepping away' phrasing you cited from a media report. There was never any mention that Haven had decided to retire. There were comments about her possibly skating in shows, but more-so to keep up her skating skills, and for financial support.
Can you cite to those articles or social media posts? I was following fairly closely and did not see anything at the time of the announcement, but I could have missed something. Thanks!

ETA: I just saw IceCoverage's post, so she was still deciding whether to retire or continue in competitive skating as of March 2020. Of course that article said nothing about show skating being only a stopgap for financial reasons, so I would be still be interested in any quotes from Haven on that point.
 
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skylark

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I think you hit the nail on the head with the issue with TSL. They can actually be pretty accurate in the news they put out before it's official, but Dave speaks as the ultimate authority, like his opinions are total fact (even when he contradicts himself later), and then speculates/spreads minor pieces of misinformation in support of those opinions.

Agreed! I wish NBC let them commentate together more often.



Back on the topic of US Pairs: I've often thought that the US has breadth in pairs (more senior internationally competing pairs than many countries) but little depth, as the good pairs tend to trade spots and hover around a similar tier. That's actually an opportunity for a new, but talented pair like Alexa and Brandon if they can get their timing down and consistency in competition. So I think it's very possible they could even win Nationals this year. But I also think Jessica and Brian are looking stronger and stronger and have a confidence boost from last season that could set them apart.
Yes and Yes (about the bolded parts).

That is a very good word, breadth. Everyone talks about depth in pairs, but "breadth" describes better what I like so much about our US pairs, that they have a diversity of styles, qualities, priorities, and talents. To tell the truth, I just want to keep seeing all of them skating -- except when something happens like with Chris last year, when he was clearly unhappy and only skating to keep from letting his wife down. So I will amend it to say that I want to see all of them keep skating and competing for as long as they want to.

Haven has so many beautiful qualities, unlike anyone else. I miss her and will keep my fingers crossed that she finds a suitable new partner.
One further "to tell the truth" ... I still miss seeing Deanna and Nate skate. But they're both happy with new partners, so that's a success story. I'm looking forward to seeing Katie and Nate.
 

skylark

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OnIcePerspectives' Jordan Cowan has some interview chats up on YouTube (with Jeremy Abbott; Ash& Tim; Pap/Ciz; Hawayek/Baker; Jason Brown, et al), as does Scott Hamilton (with Nathan Chen; Brian Boitano; Gracie Gold; Evan Lysacek; Brian Orser & Tracy Wilson; Chris Dean; Ashley Wagner; et al). And there were a number of local skating club chats with skaters both in Canada and in the U.S. I can't recall particularly at the moment, but I think there was a chat with Chock & Bates and Carreira/Ponomarenko in the U.S., and in Canada, a club chat with Roman Sadovsky and Nam Nguyen; P.J. Kwong has recently interviewed ice dancers, Soucisse/Firus, among other skaters. There is a diversity chat show originating on Instagram that I've seen. On a couple of episodes, Karina Manta, guest-hosted -- in one episode she had a memorable and poignant conversation with former ice dancer, Rachel Parsons.

You also recently posted an overseas fan-hosted interview with Ashley & Timothy. So there's a lot of chat shows out there that are difficult to keep up with.

Here's Jordan Cowan's chat with Ash & Tim:

Here's Scott Hamilton's interview with Meryl Davis, Charlie White, & Tanith White:

You can do a search to find a number of offerings. There are so many interview shows available, there's hardly any time for viewing. There's actually a lot of conversation shows up in a number of fields. The model, Naomi Campbell has a show! I loved Campbell's interview with Serena & Venus Williams. NYC Ballet's Megan Fairchild has a great interview show on YouTube in which she chats with a number of dancers. It's really great fun listening in if you are into dance.

Here's an interesting interview with Megan and former NYC ballet star, Kathryn Morgan:

Kathryn Morgan also has a very insightful YouTube vlog/ chat series...
I appreciate your listing all of these. My face is a little red, because I asked you to do this, and actually I've seen quite a lot of the skating ones. I loved Jordan's chat with Ashley and Tim. It was fascinating to watch all three of them watching the footage of Jordan recording A&T.

Also, as icecoverage mentioned above, I "promoted" Scott's interviews with a thread. I was very impressed with a number of them. Meryl, Charlie and Tanith's was one of my favorites.
:rock::thank:
 

el henry

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......
One further "to tell the truth" ... I still miss seeing Deanna and Nate skate. But they're both happy with new partners, so that's a success story. I'm looking forward to seeing Katie and Nate.
:cry::cry::cry:

But I wish them the best of luck as well with their new partners. I also can't get used to Nate not in Florida. Come to think of it, I can't get used to Jim P. and Amanda not in Florida either😄
 

BlissfulSynergy

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^^ I have come to accept the fact that things change, that everything is constantly in flux. That's one reason why it's helpful to develop an appreciation for experiencing each moment to its fullest and not taking anything for granted. Building a successful career in figure skating, especially in the pairs discipline can never happen on a dime. So many pairs teams are never able to fully reach their potential. Conversely, everything can suddenly change on a dime in both figure skating and in life.


Back on the topic of US Pairs: I've often thought that the US has breadth in pairs (more senior internationally competing pairs than many countries) but little depth, as the good pairs tend to trade spots and hover around a similar tier. That's actually an opportunity for a new, but talented pair like Alexa and Brandon if they can get their timing down and consistency in competition. So I think it's very possible they could even win Nationals this year. But I also think Jessica and Brian are looking stronger and stronger and have a confidence boost from last season that could set them apart.

That's an interesting way of looking at it. But there's also different ways of interpreting depth. Having a lot of talented teams to me equals depth. Though I get what you are saying about breadth in the number of teams who have similar talent being a more accurate descriptor for U.S. pairs teams. The thing about talented depth is that it takes a long time in pairs to fully develop any team's full spectrum of talent and potential. So many teams never reach that pinnacle because so many factors are involved.

One of the biggest factors is political clout, which Canada has in pairs over the U.S., because of Canada's political savvy and the recent successes of some of their best pairs. Luck is always a factor too. I don't think that Moore-Towers/Marinaro are a better team than any of the top U.S. pairs teams, but they tend to be viewed with more respect by the judges for different reasons. They are on the same level of building their reputation as top U.S. pairs are, but M-T/M have the cachet of taking the place of Duhamel/Radford and having the political savvy and push of Skate Canada fully behind them. SC has wasted no time trying to rebuild their pairs division which was fairly weak in depth of numbers if not breadth of talent in the top few teams, overthe last few seasons, even before D/R retired.

Let's not forget that so many U.S. pairs teams were dealt a heavy blow with injuries and illness that heavily impacted and slowed their development and momentum. Had those illnesses and injuries not occurred, a number of those teams might have made greater strides, instead of having to come back and rebuild in tandem with the teams that took their place when they were recuperating. This dynamic is the chief reason why so many U.S. teams have traded championships.

Anyway, it's not a bad thing for the more recently paired U.S. teams to have made significant strides while the Knierims and Haven/Brandon were rehabbing and making a comeback. The landscape continues to change, but it's nice to see that Ashley & Tim and Danny & Tarah are so committed to each other. Haven & Brandon were deeply committed to each other as well, but as discussed previously, a number of circumstances had taken them as reasonably far as they seemingly could go together. It was a good idea for them to split and pursue individual goals at the opportune moment, in particular for Brandon.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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I was wondering what made Alexa and Brandon go for the romantic vibe in the FS especially

The fp music is not that 'romantic' to me. I see it as more safe and generically lyrical than anything else. Their vibe is definitely athletic, with an indefinable something that seems like the spark of excitement over being a new team who match up well and know each other well as friends. It will be exciting to see how much further they can develop their partnership. They seem happy and grateful skating together, rather than anything approaching 'romance.' They are surely on an intriguing adventure, no matter which themes or genres they choose to skate to. :)


that article said nothing about show skating being only a stopgap for financial reasons, so I would be still be interested in any quotes from Haven on that point.

I think the articles that @ice coverage provided are the chief ones available. It was comments on forums where I saw references to Haven possibly considering competing in shows with her sister if nothing panned out for her in finding a new partner competitively. Such comments may be from people who are directly or indirectly familiar with Haven, or the comments could be based on speculation and gossip.
 

skylark

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The fp music is not that 'romantic' to me. I see it as more safe and generically lyrical than anything else. Their vibe is definitely athletic, with an indefinable something that seems like the spark of excitement over being a new team who match up well and know each other well as friends. It will be exciting to see how much further they can develop their partnership. They seem happy and grateful skating together, rather than anything approaching 'romance.' They are surely on an intriguing adventure, no matter which themes or genres they choose to skate to. :)
It seemed to me that they were "playing" romance at a few points in the FS, for a few seconds. I'm not sure I noticed it on the first viewing, but I did on the second. Like everyone else, I was focusing on their elements.

If you scroll down to 'Related Videos' on the link below, you can watch a video of Brandon and Alexa playing 'The Newly Paired Game.' And also one of '5 Things You May Not Know About Tarah and Danny.' It's a good article about Isabeau Levito, a 1st year junior skater who looks promising and says she focuses on performance

 

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^^ Thanks @skylark. I saw those two features yesterday on US figure skating Instagram on K/O and K/F. Those clips getting to know skaters are always fun to watch. Brandon is a sweet guy! In general, I've found most skaters to be such nice, friendly people. And generally good-looking as well. :wink: :D
 

eterislouisvuitton

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Just curious, have we heard anything about TJ Nyman and if he will have a new partner? I heard that he and Nadya Labazina split. He's a lovely skater and it would be great to have him in the mix for the Olympics.
 

skylark

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^^ Thanks @skylark. I saw those two features yesterday on US figure skating Instagram on K/O and K/F. Those clips getting to know skaters are always fun to watch. Brandon is a sweet guy! In general, I've found most skaters to be such nice, friendly people. And generally good-looking as well. :wink: :D
Brandon really is sweet. Although Alexa was trying to beat him, he had that competitive urge too but he found ways for her to score ... "maybe a half point for that one?" :rock::rofl:
 

skylark

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Just curious, have we heard anything about TJ Nyman and if he will have a new partner? I heard that he and Nadya Labazina split. He's a lovely skater and it would be great to have him in the mix for the Olympics.
Apparently Haven Denney had a tryout with TJ a couple of weeks ago, but it didn't work out, which is a shame.
 

skylark

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Here are the pairs assignments, as completed so far, for the Grand Prix events.


According to @aka_gerbil 's post in another thread, Trankov announced today that Tarasova/Morozov will w/d from SA because they'll stay in Russia to do the series events and nationals. So the current list for Skate America is, in alphabetical order by woman's last name:

Ashley & Tim, Jessica & Brian, Tarah & Danny, Audrey & Misha, Alexa & Brandon, Olivia & Mervin.

Speculations and hopes for who will get the TBA spots? I'm hoping for Kate Finster/Balazs Nagy. I would so love to see Katie McBeath/Nate Bartholomay skating there too!
 

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^^ Thanks for the news updates. Tarasova/Morosov were not at the Russian test skates, so I thought they were training in Florida with plans to compete at SA. Apparently, a decision was made for them to return to Russia.

It's too bad that Haven and T.J. did not match up well. T.J. is having a hard time finding the right partner. Finding a good partner is tough, particularly if you are looking for someone with the same citizenship. If Haven was willing to partner with someone internationally, maybe that could work out. I guess she's taking things as they come.

I know a lot of fans miss Deanna/Nate, but I think that Deanna has found a great match with Maxime Deschamps of Canada, even better than her pairing with Nate. And Nate's new partnership with Katie McBeath seems promising. :)

Perhaps Finster/Nagy for the SA tba. Katie & Nate may still be prepping for a reveal at U.S. Nationals, and perhaps a tune-up comp before then.
 

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... Speculations and hopes for who will get the TBA spots? I'm hoping for Kate Finster/Balazs Nagy. I would so love to see Katie McBeath/Nate Bartholomay skating there too!

Sheer personal preference:
I hope that Emily Chan/Spencer Howe will get a Skate America TBA spot. :pray:
Also, Katie/Nate.
But I would be happy for Kate/Balazs as well.

Claire Cloutier's new Fan Zone article about Kate/Balazs:


(Deardorff/Johnson also are in the International Selection Pool, but I do not know whether they realistically are in the mix for Skate America.)



... Katie & Nate may still be prepping for a reveal at U.S. Nationals, and perhaps a tune-up comp before then.

For the second round of ISP Points Challenge, yesterday was the designated date for recording Senior Pairs SPs.
And their coaches indicated on Instastory that yesterday Katie had her first pair competition.

ETA:
New Instastory a few minutes ago from Katie spells out that they are taking part in ISP Points Challenge.​
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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^^ Oh, that will be cool for Katie and Nate. Thanks for sharing!

I wonder which other pairs might decide to compete again in the second round of the ISP Challenge?


(Deardorff/Johnson also are in the International Selection Pool, but I do not know whether they realistically are in the mix for Skate America.)

I enjoy this unusual mirror pair team. I'm happy for Winter that she found a new partner so soon after Max Settlage retired. Winter is a lovely skater. Apparently, Winter and Mikhail are just behind Finster/Nagy in reputation and standing at the moment.

BTW, I'm currently giving a shout-out to the colorful flag of Mozambique! I would be surprised if there are any figure skating fans in that country, but who knows!
 
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NanaPat

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^^ Oh, that will be cool for Katie and Nate. Thanks for sharing!

I wonder which other pairs might decide to compete again in the second round of the ISP Challenge?




I enjoy this unusual mirror pair team. I'm happy for Winter that she found a new partner so soon after Max Settlage retired. Winter is a lovely skater. Apparently, Winter and Mikhail are just behind Finster/Nagy in reputation and standing at the moment.

BTW, I'm currently giving a shout-out to the colorful flag of Mozambique! I would be surprised if there are any figure skating fans in that country, but who knows!
Do you know that if you click on the flag, you get a google map showing the country? I was expecting a close-up of the flag, which is colourful indeed.
 

skylark

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^^ Thanks for the news updates. Tarasova/Morosov were not at the Russian test skates, so I thought they were training in Florida with plans to compete at SA. Apparently, a decision was made for them to return to Russia.

It's too bad that Haven and T.J. did not match up well. T.J. is having a hard time finding the right partner. Finding a good partner is tough, particularly if you are looking for someone with the same citizenship. If Haven was willing to partner with someone internationally, maybe that could work out. I guess she's taking things as they come.

I know a lot of fans miss Deanna/Nate, but I think that Deanna has found a great match with Maxime Deschamps of Canada, even better than her pairing with Nate. And Nate's new partnership with Katie McBeath seems promising. :)
Tarasova/Morosov were scheduled to compete at the first or second Russia Cup, but he tested positive for covid so that delayed them. Someone said in another thread that the events they're now set to compete in, plus Russian Nationals, are all within a period of 5 weeks. So the only thing that made sense was for them to w/d from SA, which was right in the middle.

Haven ... hm. You have an interesting thought there, to partner internationally. But ... pairs boys = Scarce.

I think Deanna and Maxime look great together, but there was something pretty cool and electric in the way she performed with Nate. But hey, he and Katie might have a good vibe or a better one. They look fun, in the off-ice clips I've seen. I can't wait to see them in the #2 opportunity ISP next week.
 
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