2020-21 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating

Hyena

Medalist
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
I'm curious what folks think about Katie McBeath in pairs - to me, she looks promising, although clearly a lot of work still needs to be done on her twist and death spiral.
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
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Aug 12, 2014
To the moderators ... could this information concerning the allegations against Nyman and Sappenfield be taken to a thread dedicated to that information?

So we could continue general information and fun conversations about US Pairs. :thank:
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Thanks @skylark. I was going to suggest the same. The thread drift belongs in a separate thread.

Okay, I see that a separate thread was started to discuss the accusations. So we can keep this thread about U.S. pairs news.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I'm curious what folks think about Katie McBeath in pairs - to me, she looks promising, although clearly a lot of work still needs to be done on her twist and death spiral.

I'm impressed by Katie's skating and by how quickly she's taken to pairs. When I saw Katie and Nate skating, she looked to me very much like Sasha Cohen. There's something close to a facial resemblance, as well as a similar gracefulness, petite size, and movement quality. She and Nate look very promising together. Here's a clip of Katie as a singles skater in 2017:

Katie is originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area, and this article was written about her when she won the National Collegiate figure skating event while a student at a local Cleveland community college:

Although this was written about in 2014, it doesn't seem that long ago. I believe that was the first time I'd heard of Katie. So I wonder if she's around 25 or so by this point? Nate is 31, so hopefully they will be able to develop a partnership that takes them a little beyond 2022.

I have more thoughts about the ISP Points Challenge second round, which I'll share later.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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So I wonder what happened to the Cate Fleming/Jedidiah Isbell partnership? Cate Fleming is now on IcePartner Search:

I thought Cate and Jedidiah were such a lovely young team with a bright future together. But I guess life happens.
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
Record Breaker
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Aug 12, 2014
I'm curious what folks think about Katie McBeath in pairs - to me, she looks promising, although clearly a lot of work still needs to be done on her twist and death spiral.
I'm glad you asked! Katie is first on my list to discuss. For me, she's the breath of fresh air, the new delight, for this season. I'll let others talk about her skating technique. But for a skater new to pairs, I think she's doing just fine.

What I'm so happy about is Katie's presentation as a pairs girl. She has an "It" factor already. I miss Haven Denney for her beautiful expression of joy, both facial and via movement. And Katie is already expressing emotion, especially joy, even more than Haven did (understandably) in the past few years. There just is nothing like watching the skating of someone who is thrilled to be out there skating and performing. Katie shows her joy, not just in the lifts, but at many times during her skating, especially during the FS.

Technique and skills can be taught and worked diligently to learn. But what Katie has is charisma, something special that transfers to an audience. And in the beautiful sport of figure skating, the performance and technique are equal partners. I am so impressed. I watched her performances in 2017 and 2018, and I don't find that she expressed the pure joy in her singles skating as she does in pairs.

Speaking of partners, I'm very impressed with the way Nathan is partnering her. He's more subtle than he was with Deanna. I can't help feeling he's different with every partner, that he's consciously or intuitively altered his style to support and highlight Katie. He keeps the quality of the pair at a high level. I like his demeanor very much with Katie. It's as though he knows how dazzling she is, with that smile, which is enchanting and genuine, never "too much" or superficial. And he shapes his own performance to complement hers. I already love this pair and have watched their FS several times.

I'll write more of my thoughts later about the Pairs' performances in the 2nd ISP opportunity. For now, :bed:
 
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ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
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Feb 27, 2012
On the basis (AFAIK) of Skate America assignments, some skaters have been added to USFS envelope funding.
(Maybe I am the last to notice?)

Examples of those newly (AFAIK) listed in Team C envelope: Chan/Howe, Knierim/Frazier, and dancers McNamara/Spiridonov.

These skaters did not meet any envelope criteria based on 2019-2020 results.
Chan/Howe were unable to compete at 2020 Nats (because of injury, IIRC), and the other two partnerships are new.
But per "Additional Considerations" in the 2020-21 envelope criteria, "Any athlete or team who is selected to the 2020 Grand Prix Series will be added to team C Tier 1."

(Some singles skaters also have been added to Team C because of Skate America assignments, I believe.)

BTW, 2021-22 envelope criteria have been published, with results from ISP Points Challenge (senior and junior) included in criteria for Teams C and D.



So I wonder what happened to the Cate Fleming/Jedidiah Isbell partnership? Cate Fleming is now on IcePartner Search:

I thought Cate and Jedidiah were such a lovely young team with a bright future together. But I guess life happens.

Hmmmm ....

I can't help having mixed feelings that on IPS, Cate's coaching contact already is Letov. That did not take long.
I wonder whether Cate has completely stopped working with her previous coaches, Palascak and Lambert (who also are at SCOB).

ETA (on Oct 14):​
As they look for a partner for her, @olgaalexcoaching's post with video of Cate:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CGVNfLyDHBG/ (Oct 14)​



ETA (on Oct 13):

As of Oct 12, Kayne/O'Shea's ISU bio has been updated .... but the usual line for "Coach: ______" does not appear.​
Same for "Practice low season: _________" and "Practice high season: _________", which are used to indicate training location as well as hours per week.​
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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Mars
I'm glad you asked! Katie is first on my list to discuss. For me, she's the breath of fresh air, the new delight, for this season. I'll let others talk about her skating technique. But for a skater new to pairs, I think she's doing just fine.

What I'm so happy about is Katie's presentation as a pairs girl. She has an "It" factor already. I miss Haven Denney for her beautiful expression of joy, both facial and via movement. And Katie is already expressing emotion, especially joy, even more than Haven did (understandably) in the past few years. There just is nothing like watching the skating of someone who is thrilled to be out there skating and performing. Katie shows her joy, not just in the lifts, but at many times during her skating, especially during the FS.

Technique and skills can be taught and worked diligently to learn. But what Katie has is charisma, something special that transfers to an audience. And in the beautiful sport of figure skating, the performance and technique are equal partners. I am so impressed. I watched her performances in 2017 and 2018, and I don't find that she expressed the pure joy in her singles skating as she does in pairs.

Speaking of partners, I'm very impressed with the way Nathan is partnering her. He's more subtle than he was with Deanna. I can't help feeling he's different with every partner, that he's consciously or intuitively altered his style to support and highlight Katie. He keeps the quality of the pair at a high level. I like his demeanor very much with Katie. It's as though he knows how dazzling she is, with that smile, which is enchanting and genuine, never "too much" or superficial. And he shapes his own performance to complement hers. I already love this pair and have watched their FS several times.

I'll write more of my thoughts later about the Pairs' performances in the 2nd ISP opportunity. For now, :bed:

ITA! I was really struck by Katie's star quality. And by Nate's understated partnering. They make a good match, much like Deanna makes an excellent match with Maxime Deschamps. As much as Nate and Deanna were good together, perhaps they did not suit each other as well temperamentally. Apparently, both physically and emotionally, Nate and Deanna have landed great new partners with whom they are conceivably even better matched. And I hope both teams are able to achieve a measure of success and satisfying rewards in their new partnerships.

As I mentioned earlier, Katie truly is reminiscent for me of Sasha Cohen. I agree that Katie seems made for pairs skating, and I'm happy for her that she found a great partner in Nate. I too have enjoyed re-watching their performances in the ISP 2 Challenge. They look very promising, and surely continued hard work with their great coaching team, will lead to them making significant strides.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I can't help having mixed feelings that on IPS, Cate's coaching contact already is Letov. That did not take long.
I wonder whether Cate has completely stopped working with her previous coaches,

So, is there no information about Jedidiah Isbell? Did he decide to quit skating or something?
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
Record Breaker
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Aug 12, 2014
Ashley/Timothy article ahead of Skate America:


Excerpt:
The program, highlighted by a dramatic spiral sequence, is challenging from a stamina point of view due to the driving, intense quality of the music. "We're trying to work, more and more, to have the energy of it at the end of the program," Cain-Gribble noted. "To bring the energy up every single day in practice."

"We're building up," LeDuc agreed. "But we had a little bit of a setback in August."

An off-ice training accident, caused by a timing error, left LeDuc with a concussion and a broken nose. He underwent surgery to repair the bone damage.

This explains Tim's injury and their lost training time a bit more thoroughly. Also, I'm happy that they're talking about their FS. I'm not sure whether I said it here or not earlier, but after their ISP performances, I was thinking that the last third of their Rachmaninoff FS needed more of the drama and intensity that they usually bring to their skating. That was a lot of what was missing, IMHO. So I'm really, really looking forward to seeing how that particular program has progressed over the past few weeks.

Here's a new photo of them since they've arrived at the SA venue:
 

BlissfulSynergy

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^^ Thanks @skylark for sharing the fan zone article and the photo from Ash's Instagram. Ash & Tim are looking good. I see in the background that cardboard cutout figures are in the first row seats. I wonder if they are going to fill more seats with those cutouts. I think that's a good idea to give the sense of a viewing audience. But then they would seem to also need some kind of crowd noise audio effects too.
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
Record Breaker
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Aug 12, 2014
^^ Thanks @skylark for sharing the fan zone article and the photo from Ash's Instagram. Ash & Tim are looking good. I see in the background that cardboard cutout figures are in the first row seats. I wonder if they are going to fill more seats with those cutouts. I think that's a good idea to give the sense of a viewing audience. But then they would seem to also need some kind of crowd noise audio effects too.
In the interview of Keegan a day or so ago, he mentioned exactly that, the fact that it's hearing the crowd's encouragement and applause that helps when his legs are tired, etc.

I think it'll probably be harder for the skaters who really rely on their connection with audiences ... which is, basically, all or most of my favorites. Go Ashley and Tim! And good luck and happy performing to all the skaters, especially pairs, who are skating this week-end.:dance3:
 

BlissfulSynergy

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In the interview of Keegan a day or so ago, he mentioned exactly that, the fact that it's hearing the crowd's encouragement and applause that helps when his legs are tired, etc.

Yes, I'm sure the skaters will have a big adjustment to make. I guess it would be difficult to simulate crowd noise with the skaters' music playing. Especially when crowd noise is a spontaneous reaction to performances that are unpredictable, and not like the predictable funny parts of dialogue on a tv comedy show laugh track.

I have been perusing the fan zone Skate America site. And I did a google search on Olivia Serafini because I recalled that she has a nutrition blog which I haven't visited in awhile. I found an interesting local hometown article on Liv from January 2020. In the article, it confirms that Liv and Merv are a couple off-ice, which I already knew indirectly from some of Liv's Instagram posts. In addition to her nutrition blog, Liv has a separate Instagram account where she posts recipes in conjunction with her nutrition blog site.

The local Times Union article I think is from the Saratoga region of New York state (apparently Liv is from a town in that area). The article explains how she moved to California for better training as a junior (I didn't realize she used to train with Raf). When her singles career stalled, she turned to pairs skating. Her first tryout did not bear results. Her second tryout was with Mervin, and the rest is delightful history. I'm happy for them that they also found love and romance together off-the-ice.

As a bonus, the attached article has sports news videos embedded. One of the videos was an interview with Dylan Moskovitch who discussed upcoming Skate America and athletes' preparation during this unusual season. Another video was with a sports medical professional who talked about research that has been undertaken studying the effects of the pandemic on athletes' mental, emotional and financial well-being.

https://www.timesunion.com/sports/article/All-In-Niskayuna-s-Olivia-Serafini-fits-14970074.php (It takes a moment for the embedded video screen to start)

Liv's blog:
 

moonvine

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
So I know everyone is over the moon with Alexa and Brandon. Maybe if I see them perform in front of an audience of real people it will be different. But she just didn’t seem that happy with the win. No jumping, screaming bright shiny happy Alexa.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I haven’t seen her.

Go to U.S. figure skating fan zone and click on Videos in the menu. Look in On Demand category and you should find all of the virtual ISP events for Opportunity 1 and Opportunity 2. Katie and Nate skated their sp and fp for the Opportunity 2 event, and they skated first in both segments. It was a nice debut for them.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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So I know everyone is over the moon with Alexa and Brandon. Maybe if I see them perform in front of an audience of real people it will be different. But she just didn’t seem that happy with the win. No jumping, screaming bright shiny happy Alexa.

LOL. Alexa was wearing a mask in the kiss n' cry, so you didn't get to see her happiness upon winning. Plus, her jumping and screaming at U.S. Nationals was about extreme happiness for her and Chris' comeback after a couple of seasons of a downturn in their fortunes. They had taken some risks in moving to train in Europe with Aljona post 2018 Olympics, which ultimately didn't work out, even though it was a risk worth taking. Then the fortunate, but difficult move to California to train with Meno/Sand. The Knierims had some financial challenges as well since their poor placement at Nationals in 2019 didn't allow for them to continue receiving funding.

Perseverance and ultimate victory at 2020 Nationals after those life-changing challenges was surely worth jumping and screaming about, especially with Alexa knowing that Chris was struggling with his leg injury effects and grief over a death in his family in 2018. I don't know if Alexa knew at that point how depressed Chris was, but she must have known something about it, even though he kept pushing himself until he just couldn't anymore when he suddenly felt depleted and at the end of his rope at 4CCs.

It's understandable to still have a sentimental attachment to the Knierims skating together. But Chris is reportedly much happier now, and that's important. He fully supports Alexa & Brandon, and he's happy coaching and working with young ladies who are new to pairs and don't yet have partners (e.g., Megan Wessenberg).

Skate America is just the beginning for Alexa & Brandon. Jumping and screaming at this point would be more than a little bit OTT. In addition, this being an unusual season, it appears that Alexa & Brandon, and quite a few skaters were more winded than normal after their rigorous exertion. They have to build endurance. Also, there wasn't an audience in the arena providing any real feedback, so the vibe is different for the skaters. Canned crowd noise is what it is, but it's obviously not real feedback on the performances.

To my eyes, Brandon and Alexa are happy skating together, but perhaps it's a contained and mature happiness, mixed with gratitude. They smile at each other quite often during their performances. I guess some viewers are missing how much they naturally seem to interact during their performances. They seem stoked, but also calm and on an even keel, since they are a new partnership and they still have mountains to climb. Kudos to them for being far ahead of where most new teams would be at this point.
 

Spiralgraph

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Alexa looked very happy to me. Obviously she and Brandon have worked darn hard to look this good so soon after they teamed up during a pandemic.
And perhaps that is the reason why she wasn't screaming with joy. Every competitor wearing a mask. it's hard to yell plus screaming promotes germs being ejected from our mouths. With the crud infecting thousands of people if you ask me Alexa was wise in how she reacted to the win.
And lastly this is only one win, I'm sure their goal is doing well at Nationals
 
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