2021-22 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating | Golden Skate

2021-22 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 12, 2014
It's about time that we started a US pairs thread for the new season.

I can't think of a better item of news to begin the thread with than the following, reported by @GoneWithTheWind in the Partner Switch thread:

U.S. Figure Skating released their ISP list and Chelsea Liu and Danny O'Shea are listed as a new pair! :love:

Chelsea most recently competed with Xie Zhong for China (with whom she was the national bronze medalist) as well as with Ian Meyr and Brian Johnson.

Danny most recently competed with Tarah Kayne.

So many have commented that they hoped Danny would be able to find a new partner. Of course, it's wonderful for Chelsea, too. At age 21, she had/has more time on her side. Best of luck, happiness, and success to both of them in their new partnership! :clap: I guess Chelsea had been seen working in the Jenni & Todd group, so I wonder if they'll be training there.

Someone had wondered why USFS hadn't announced a partnership between Aljona Savchenko and TJ Nyman. It seems that the Liu/O'Shea partnership has not yet been officially announced either? Or this is one of the ways USFS announces?
 

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
^^ Yes, I agree this is great news to start a new season's thread for U.S. pairs.

We knew that Danny and Chelsea were among former U.S. pairs skaters situated at the Irvine rink (apparently looking for new partners), but I guess their tryouts and the beginning stages of training were kept under wraps until ready to reveal their new pairing.

It's certainly an exciting time at the Irvine rink, and for U.S. pairs generally.

In case it was missed on this site, here's a clip from the documentary that former U.S. team Danny & Tarah appeared in, filmed in Monument, CO:

Plus, bonus video of Katie McBeath & Nate Bartholomay, filmed by On Ice Perspectives, skating to their new program to The Blower's Daughter:

A very promising program for them. I've always enjoyed watching Nate with all of his partners. He and Katie are particularly well-suited. They are one of the teams I look forward to having fun rooting for!

I wish it was possible to be up close and personal watching U.S. pairs teams training and practicing for the new season! :love:
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
Regarding Danny & Chelsea, I'd be surprised if they weren't planning to make Irvine their training rink. They've probably been training there on the down low for awhile.

Chelsea was formerly partnered with Brian Johnson under Meno/Sand, when Jessica Calalang was with her former partner, Zach Sidhu. It's really nice to see the brilliant success and expansion of TeamTodd&Jenni. So very deserving! 💖
 

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
Thanks @skylark for the link to the USFS updated ISP list for each discipline.

For Pairs:
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc
Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson
Emily Chan and Spencer Howe
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier
Chelsea Liu and Danny O'Shea
Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov
Isabelle Martins and Ryan Bedard
Katie McBeath and Nathan Bartholomay
Catherine Rivers and Timmy Chapman
Olivia Serafini and Mervin Tran
Anastasiia Smirnova and Danil Siianytsia

There are a lot of other teams of course who will compete domestically but aren't eligible for international competition.

I wonder what's up with Jessica Pfund and Josh Santillan. I hope they will be able to secure their release and have the opportunity to skate for Switzerland. The sport's antiquated competitive structure which limits skaters' development and growth opportunities is so frustrating and egregious.
 

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
... ... It seems that the Liu/O'Shea partnership has not yet been officially announced either? Or this is one of the ways USFS announces?

FWIW, I think(?) that to merit addition to ISP, Liu/O'Shea -- as a new partnership that AFAIK has not competed yet -- would have needed to meet one or more standards during USFS monitoring.
But I am no expert. And I certainly am not saying that I know what the exact standard(s?) would be.

This particular ISP update happened to bring a new partnership to light, but my opinion is that I don't think that USFS would consider an ISP update to be an "announcement."

Anyway, good luck to Chelsea/Danny. I am happy and excited for both of them.



ETA:

Sorry, I forgot to thank @skylark for the new thread.

And to make my customary notation (for reference purposes) of the link to the previous season's thread:

 
Last edited:

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 12, 2014
Plus, bonus video of Katie McBeath & Nate Bartholomay, filmed by On Ice Perspectives, skating to their new program to The Blower's Daughter:

A very promising program for them. I've always enjoyed watching Nate with all of his partners. He and Katie are particularly well-suited. They are one of the teams I look forward to having fun rooting for!

Wow. I don't often get a powerfully emotional feeling from watching a clip, but this is amazing. From the first time I saw a program from Katie and Nate (I think it was that virtual competition from home rinks that preceded Skate America last year) ... I thought that Katie has the "It" factor for a pairs girl ... she expresses with her face all the joy of skating and flying. And I've also really enjoyed watching Nate with all of his partners. He picks up the moods and ambience of whomever he's skating with, which in my view is a real talent.

Jordan is also amazing.
 

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
It's difficult to keep track of all the new pairings, there's so much going on in U.S. pairs.

Here's the ISP list again for U.S. pairs:

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc
Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson
Emily Chan and Spencer Howe
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier
Chelsea Liu and Danny O'Shea
Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov
Isabelle Martins and Ryan Bedard
Katie McBeath and Nathan Bartholomay
Catherine Rivers and Timmy Chapman
Olivia Serafini and Mervin Tran
Anastasiia Smirnova and Danil Siianytsia


That's 11 teams, several of whom have come up from juniors. Rivers/ Chapman placed 4th overall at 2020 Nationals in juniors. The lovely team of Sydney Cooke/ Keyton Bearinger were in 3rd after the sp, but dropped to 5th overall after the fp. Had they maintained their position or only fell to 4th place, they would probably have been selected to the ISP over Rivers/Chapman. These young teams are still developing, but many of them are very good with loads of potential. Valentina Plazas & Maximiliano Fernandez placed 3rd at 2020 Nationals in juniors, but apparently they have not yet made the move to seniors, and so will continue to compete in the junior division.

Additional senior teams, who have yet to compete together:
Megan Wessenberg/ Blake Eisenach
and as mentioned earlier:
Digerness/Meyh
Neudecker/Fakhrutdinov


The team of Evelyn Grace Hanns/ Jim Garbutt are relatively new, but they competed at 2021 U.S. Nationals in seniors

New pairs teams who will compete in juniors:
Cate Fleming/ Chase Finster
Laiken Lockley/ Jedidiah Isbell

I'm not sure whether newly senior pairs skater Kate Finster has found another partner after her split with Balazs Nagy. Kate F is also at the Irvine rink with her brother, Chase. There's also no word on whether or not Tarah and Balazs might form an on-ice partnership out of Detroit.

So that said, I count 16 senior U.S. pairs teams, and there may be a couple more who I've missed. I'm sure that's the highest number of U.S. pairs competitors in some time.

Meanwhile, here's a nice group photo of fearless pairs ladies who train at the Irvine rink:
From left to right, the first three young ladies I can't identify. I'm familiar with Katie McBeath; Chelsea Liu; Alexa K; coach Jenni Meno; Jessica Calalang; (maybe Kate Finster? standing behind Jessica); Megan Wessenberg; (then maybe Ashley Stark -- who is paired with Nathan Rensing, probably competing in Juniors); Cate Fleming; the last lady I can't identify.
 

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
... That's 11 teams, several of whom have come up from juniors. Rivers/ Chapman placed 4th overall at 2020 Nationals in juniors. ...

If you are assuming that all 11 pairs on the ISP list will compete as seniors, I would not agree with that assumption.

Rivers/Chapman are age-eligible for 2021-22 junior international competition.
Same for Smirnova/Siianytsia and Martins/Bedard.

... Valentina Plazas & Maximiliano Fernandez placed 3rd at 2020 Nationals in juniors, but apparently they have not yet made the move to seniors, and so will continue to compete in the junior division. ...

Plazas/Fernandez already have competed as seniors in the 2021-22 season in Ann Arbor.

ETA (on Aug 21):
It was at 2021 Nationals that Plazas/Fernandez placed third as juniors, not 2020 Nationals.
Mentioning to avoid confusion in case anyone is reading these older posts in the thread for some reason.​

(They are not age-eligible for junior international competition.)

... Additional senior teams, who have yet to compete together:
... Neudecker/Fakhrutdinov ...

Fakhroutdinov/Neudecker already have competed in Fort Collins.

... Meanwhile, here's a nice group photo of fearless pairs ladies who train at the Irvine rink:
From left to right, the first three young ladies I can't identify. I'm familiar with Katie McBeath; Chelsea Liu; Alexa K; coach Jenni Meno; Jessica Calalang; (maybe Kate Finster? standing behind Jessica); Megan Wessenberg; (then maybe Ashley Stark -- who is paired with Nathan Rensing, probably competing in Juniors); Cate Fleming; the last lady I can't identify.

I agree that Kate Finster is between Calalang and Wessenberg.
At the very right is Nina Ouellette, if I am not mistaken.
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
^^ Okay, thanks. I wondered, as that's a lot of senior teams, and the list did not specify that some teams would compete as juniors. Thanks so much for the correction. I thought perhaps that some of these teams had aged out of juniors.

Great, so it is Plazas & Fernandez who have come up to seniors, and the other young teams named to the ISP list are remaining in juniors. What about Cooke/Bearinger? Have they aged out of juniors? Plazas/Fernandez are coached by Jim Peterson in Detroit, and participated in a pairs training series of videos put together by Jim and a number of his coaching colleagues, including Robin Szolkowy.

It is hard to know about small, local or regional competitions, since most of them are not available for viewing. I am glad to hear that Sasha/Danny have competed as a senior pair already in Fort Collins. I hope they remain injury free.

Have you heard anything about Nica Digerness/ Ian Meyh?

So, eight senior teams and 3 junior teams were chosen for the ISP.

Senior U.S. Pairs:
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc
Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson
Emily Chan and Spencer Howe
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier
Chelsea Liu and Danny O'Shea
Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov
Katie McBeath and Nathan Bartholomay
Olivia Serafini and Mervin Tran

along with:
Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez
Sydney Cooke and Keyton Bearinger
Evelyn Grace Hanns and Jim Garbutt
Nica Digerness and Ian Meyh
Danny Neudecker and Sasha Fakhrutdinov
Megan Wessenberg and Blake Eisenach
Aliona Savchenko and T. J. Nyman
(not yet officially announced)

Approximately 15 senior teams unless there are more not on this list

Junior U.S. Pairs:
Isabelle Martins and Ryan Bedard
Catherine Rivers and Timmy Chapman
Anastasiia Smirnova and Danil Siianytsia
Cate Fleming and Chase Finster
Laiken Lockley and Jedidiah Isbell
Ashley Stark and Nathan Rensing

along with the 7, 8, and 9 place teams in juniors at 2021 Nationals (unless any of these teams split):
Aleksandra Prudsky and Daniel Tioumentsev
Haley Conrad and Kristofer Ogren **
Juliette Reed & Jordan Gillette


There may be additional junior teams.

ETA:
** Haley Conrad and Kristofer Ogren are paired with new partners per the upcoming Broadmoor Open competition entries. See mentioned in a below post

I doublechecked the 2021 Junior competition. Conrad/Ogren were in last place in the sp, and then pulled up one spot, but still with mistakes. They didn't look particularly well-matched either. It was cute when Conrad said to Ogren in the kiss n' cry: "Good job. We made it. At least, we survived." Conrad hopefully found a taller more physically suited partner in Jake Pagano. And hopefully, Mandy Romero who is now with Ogren, will do well together. Meanwhile, Sarah Burden, who is now with Matthew Rounis, used to skate with Pagano (probably among one or more other partners).

ETA Pt 2:
I see that Mandy Romero and Jake Pagano skated together in the virtual preliminary round for juniors leading to 2021 Nationals. They came in last at 52.16, so they did not advance to Nationals. Three other teams were also cut, including Chase Finster & Megan Voight. Finster is of course now paired with Cate Fleming. Musical chairs for pairs is certainly an understatement.
Results for preliminary U.S. junior event (virtual) in December 2020:
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
Meanwhile, here's a nice group photo of fearless pairs ladies who train at the Irvine rink:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CQjzPv2LFj1/

I wonder which one of the younger ladies is Ellie, who performed this quad twist with Chris Knierim's tutelage and assist?


Possibly Ellie is the second young lady from the left in the group photo?

Seriously, I wish there was a dedicated and well-produced informative biweekly podcast dedicated exclusively to pairs skating, focusing on events and happenings in the U.S., but including news about international teams as well. And I'm talking something enlightening and straightforward, NOT gossipy, snarky and trivial. It would be cool to include news tidbits along with time given to short interview features, panel discussions on important topics, conversations with skaters, coaches, choreographers, physical trainers, skating historians, legends of the sport, etc. We have nothing like that now, although I like the positivity of P.J. Kwong's podcast, the new Cafecito con Masha podcast, Polina Edmunds' one-on-one interviews, and Conversations in Colour with Asher Hill and his sister, Acacia.

Canadian champion, Roman Sadovsky, has a fun and generously giving vlog for his fans. Plus, the ShibSibs are the esteemed model and pioneers of skating-centric vlogs.
 
Last edited:

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
^^ Okay, thanks. I wondered, as that's a lot of senior teams, and the list did not specify that some teams would compete as juniors. Thanks so much for the correction. I thought perhaps that some of these teams had aged out of juniors.

Great, so it is Plazas & Fernandez who have come up to seniors, and the other young teams named to the ISP list are remaining in juniors. What about Cooke/Bearinger? Have they aged out of juniors? ...

Just to state my own view more clearly re Smirnova/Siianytsia, Martins/Bedard, and Rivers/Chapman:

In my post above, I was not going further than saying (as a non-expert) that I would not take for granted that they all would "rush" to move up.

S/S and M/B do not have a ton of international experience, and R/C have none.
But I do not know what any of them are planning re junior vs. senior.
None of them have competed yet in the new season, AFAIK.​

Both Cooke/Bearinger and Plazas/Fernandez competed as seniors in Ann Arbor.
Both pairs are not age-eligible for junior internationals.



The still-recent news of the John Nicks Pairs Challenge senior/junior international was happily noted elsewhere on GS, but was never mentioned in the 2020-21 season's thread. I will take the opportunity to celebrate again here:

Sep 10 - 11 in NYC 🥳



Broadmoor Open pairs competition begins on Thursday of this week.
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
^^ I didn't yet know about this new event. A senior/junior international for pairs, named after John Nicks! That's a wonderful development.

After checking out the recent Senior B thread on GS, it appears that the U.S. International Classic event will consist of only singles and dance this season. So perhaps that's why a dedicated international pairs challenge was created separately, honoring legendary John Nicks. I'm surmising, since I don't see any explanatory articles or news about the creation of this new event in New York city.

Regarding the three younger U.S. pairs teams who were selected to the ISP, it will be interesting to see whether they are all remaining in juniors for another season. I suppose none of them have yet aged out of juniors. Sometimes young skaters compete in juniors internationally, but in seniors domestically.

ETA:
I don't see anything on this site about the Ann Arbor competition, or other small, local events. Where to go for all aspects of skating news that covers lesser known events?? Like are the results of Fort Collins and Ann Arbor posted anywhere?


With some additional checking, I see that the following are new junior teams who will be competing at 2021 Broadmoor Open. So there was typically some switching that occurred after 2021 Nationals, among junior pairs teams:

JUNIOR PAIRS - Mandy Romero/Kristofer Ogren, Haley Conrad/Jake Pagano

So, Conrad/Ogren (who placed 7th in juniors at 2021 U.S. Nationals) split up and are now paired with new partners

SENIOR PAIRS - Sarah Burden/Matthew Rounis; D. Neudecker/ S. Fakhrutdinov; The Crafoords (twins who represent Sweden, but are also U.S. citizens who grew up and trained in the U.S.)

Adding Burden/Rounis to the Senior Pairs list, means there are approximately 16 U.S. senior pairs teams. Obviously, things are fluid and always changing, so there could be additions, subtractions or other modifications by the time 2022 U.S. Nationals arrives.
 
Last edited:

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
... Not surprisingly, Plazas/Fernandez have moved up to senior. Cooke/Bearinger too.
P/F recently competed their SP in Ann Arbor, where C/B competed their FS.

Speaking of Plazas/Fernandez, they are a frequent presence in the USFS "Dare To Pair" video series.
I haven't gone back to rewatch the whole series (ten parts), but among the coaches contributing instruction are Peterson and Evora, with P/F demonstrating.

... ETA:
I don't see anything on this site about the Ann Arbor competition, or other small, local events. Where to go for all aspects of skating news that covers lesser known events?? Like are the results of Fort Collins and Ann Arbor posted anywhere? ...

FWIW, I had quickly referred to Ann Arbor in the 2020-21 U.S. Pairs thread. I have quoted above from my May 29 post.
(Non-judgmental observation: You previously had a given a "like" reaction to this post. Please don't get me wrong -- I know that it is impossible to remember the complete assortment of things that I have seen on GS, on social media, etc. 😵 😣)

In terms of GS, I don't think there is an answer for: "Where to go for all aspects ...?"
"All" is a high bar.
But FWIW, in my experience: On a non-systematic basis, U.S. discipline threads sometimes do have posts with results from local competitions. Depends on which events any GS member happens to be paying attention to and what s/he feels like posting. The Competitions area also has a section for Summer Competitions if anyone wants to start a GS thread for a particular event.
It so happened that Fort Collins was of interest to me because of singles. I did not bother to post about pairs.

Outside of GS: Results from Ann Arbor and Fort Collins can be found on the host club's sites.

(For me, the USFS listing of competitions is a starting point from which I pick and choose events that might or might not get my attention for whatever reason.)
 

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
^^ Thank you very much.

Expert coverage and a definitive compilation of news and event statistics is woefully disparate and incomplete for this enjoyable but fractured and frustrating sport. It's run too Mom-Pop since forever, and with too many conflicts of interest and structural problems. Not to mention how badly the sport is lagging in financial resources and moneybag investor support to fully benefit the sport's growth, popularity and expansion. The recent pandemic affected the sport in so many ways too on collective and individual levels to the point where it's still too early to assess the full impact and overall fallout domestically and internationally.

Simply because I liked a post where the Ann Arbor competition was mentioned, doesn't mean I gained any reference points or detailed information from reading your post. Nor would I necessarily recall having liked your post. You mentioned a competition that I am unfamiliar with, and for which I have seen no results listed anywhere. Now that you bring it to my attention again, I recall liking the post chiefly because I learned something about the start of the season for two U.S. pairs teams, and because you linked the very enlightening and well-produced pairs instructional video series put together by Jim Peterson and his colleagues. I truly appreciate the link to those instructional videos.

Outside of GS: Results from Ann Arbor and Fort Collins can be found on the host club's sites.
Okay, thanks. More time-consuming online research to find details regarding lesser known events. I know this is the way things are, but it's frustrating. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.



The Ann Arbor event is available to download for free, and there are instructions. But there are a number of somewhat confusing steps to take in order to access.

Results link:

So many entries for the above Ann Arbor event). It's difficult to find Junior Pairs and Senior Pairs. Once found, it looks like Plazas/Fernandez only skated their sp (52.01), and Cooke/Bearinger only skated their fp (91.97), with no other teams competing. I also notice a junior pairs team I'm not familiar with who competed their sp: Cayla Smith/Andy Deng (46.85).

The results at Fort Collins apparently indicate that Sasha/Danny only skated their sp (45.10). There are links/instructions for free downloads of the Fort Collins events too.


This is like a treasure trove of information for me. As I said, there are lots of places to search online for fs news and stats, but no clear way to know what to find where, particularly for lesser known local competitions. I generally go to Fan Zone, but that site is difficult to navigate, and mainly covers major events and elite skaters. I didn't realize that more information should be looked for on the general, non-fan-specific USFS site.

In fact, after spending hours checking, viewing and commenting, I realize that the entire sport is very unwieldy, and difficult to cover altogether. This is why the elite skaters are mainly focused on, and even then the coverage is rather superficial, often cliche and less than substantial.
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
Speaking of the Crafoords (re my earlier post), below is a clip from OIP, and a video of one of their events last season:


 

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
... ETA:
I don't see anything on this site about the Ann Arbor competition, or other small, local events. ...

FWIW, I had quickly referred to Ann Arbor in the 2020-21 U.S. Pairs thread. I have quoted above from my May 29 post.
(Non-judgmental observation: You previously had a given a "like" reaction to this post. Please don't get me wrong -- I know that it is impossible to remember the complete assortment of things that I have seen on GS, on social media, etc. 😵 😣)

... Simply because I liked a post where the Ann Arbor competition was mentioned, doesn't mean I gained any reference points or detailed information from reading your post. Nor would I necessarily recall having liked your post. You mentioned a competition that I am unfamiliar with, and for which I have seen no results listed anywhere. Now that you bring it to my attention again, I recall liking the post chiefly because I learned something about the start of the season for two U.S. pairs teams, and because you linked the very enlightening and well-produced pairs instructional video series put together by Jim Peterson and his colleagues. I truly appreciate the link to those instructional videos. ...

I simply was responding to your original wording (emphasis added): "I don't see anything on this site" about Ann Arbor or other local events.

To repeat the gist of my comment above, it is totally understandable that any member of GS -- you, me, anyone -- would/could not have instant recall of every single thing that s/he has read on GS.
Especially when the many pockets of information on GS are spread across lots of different threads.

My response was just a gentle reminder that a little "something" about Ann Arbor in fact already had been on GS.
As I already had said, it was a quick mention. Nothing more -- but also nothing less.
IMO, a bit of information here and a bit more there (from GS members collectively, not only from me) are better than nothing at all about local competitions.



ETA:
I see that you have added links and details from Ann Arbor and Fort Collins to one of your posts above. (y)
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
The sport is inherently very unwieldy and overall unsatisfying in terms of coverage. I think the small, local events are considered more interesting to friends and family members and perhaps to a few diehard fans who enjoy particular disciplines and who tend to follow lesser known up-and-coming skaters.

Ann Arbor and Fort Collins are warm-up events for the most part, organized for members of local and regional clubs. Clearly, when teams are the sole entry and they have no plans to compete both programs, these events are not on the radar for most fans, and not considered substantive enough to cover, or even to necessarily mention by sports bloggers/vloggers. At the club level, I'm sure these are very important events, and skaters have to begin somewhere.

I am a pairs aficionado, so I remember watching the U.S. Nationals junior pairs event in January.
The discipline at the lower levels in the U.S. particularly is always undergoing change, many transitional moments, and cycles when top juniors move to seniors. Finster/Nagy won in 2020 and then moved up to seniors prior to splitting. Deardorff/Johnson who looked good together as mirror partners are now kaput, as Johnson decided to move on to academics, with a medical school focus. The uncertainties around the pandemic definitely triggered a number of retirements. I enjoyed Deardorff in seniors with her former partner, veteran pairs skater, Max Settlage, who had to retire after a couple of seasons with Winter Deardorff (sadly for Winter and for their fans).

It's clear that so many of these current young skaters have a long way to go in their development. The partnering match-ups are not always the best, so that contributes to the constant musical chairs. Plus, there's likely an impatience by athletes to succeed, when the road to improvement is necessarily going to be slow, unless you come in with blazing skills like the Ukrainians turned prospective U.S. citizens, and now U.S. junior pairs champions, Smirnova/ Siianytsia.

A number of these young teams need more fundamental tech training and figures practice to develop better edge control, speed, and confidence on difficult elements. For 2021 U.S. juniors, the top two placements seemed assured. S/S have solid skills, and they are continuing to improve in all areas, including on-ice chemistry and presentation, which is usually an ongoing process throughout a career.

I've watched the second place, team, Martins/Bedard for many years. It's so nice to see them grow together and stay together. They seem to have a joy and passion for the sport, and hopefully a continuing loyalty and commitment to their partnership, under coaches, Berton/Brubaker, in Chicago. Martins used to be very tiny next to Bedard, but she's grown a lot in the last 2 years. It's nice that Bedard was much taller than her, so that now, even with her long legs and greater height, they still match well together. Their programs are looking very well packaged, and they have good chemistry and knowledge of each other. They really need to work on improving their twist. Plus, Martins does not get a lot of height on her jumps. Possibly, as she continues to mature, she will gain more strength so they can develop more explosive pop. They have good speed, but that aspect can always be further developed. Their throws are nice, and they have good lifts. But they need a lot of work on their sbs jumps as well as improving technique, timing, and height on their twist. A clip from Martins of their throw 3 loop:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CMXRBpMAdCD/ (y)

Teams who landed in 3, 4, and 5 overall had to battle, as they are generally equal in abilities, with some teams having greater strengths than others in particular areas.
I think Cooke/Bearinger are a relatively new team. I remember watching Cooke with former partners. I was pleasantly surprised by how well Cooke/Bearinger look together. They have excellent lines and elegant movement qualities. Their sp was a hit with the judges and they placed third in that segment. Unfortunately, their fp music and concept did not go over as well with the judges, as did their more lyrical sp. Personally, I was sold on Cooke/Bearinger altogether, so they remain memorable for me. I hope they can steadily improve their weaknesses and reach greater heights in the senior ranks. While I also enjoyed Rivers/Chapman very much in both programs, I'm not sure why the 6-point difference between their fp and that of Cooke/Bearinger. Yes, Cooke fell on a throw and Bearinger fell on a sbs jump, so they had miscues that can drop you in the standings. Still, C/B seem more polished overall than R/C. Plus, Rivers fell on sbs jumps and had a hand down on a throw. Rivers wore a lovely costume for the free program, and I think R/C's fp concept worked better for them than did C/B's fp in their black costumes. Cooke had worn a striking lavender costume for their lyrical sp where they placed third.

I was not overly impressed by Plazas, but her partner Fernandez has a lot of experience and it shows. I didn't find their fp that memorable. It was rather generic, but they are capable and they match well. I forget the names of Fernandez's former partners, but he's been training under Jim Peterson for awhile. It's nice for Fernandez to have placed 3rd in juniors prior to aging out, and moving up to seniors. I felt sad for Cooke/Bearinger, but they are a new pairing, and so with more time they hopefully will get their bearings and make enormous strides together in seniors. Rivers/Chapman are pleasant together and seem to have potential. But I'm not as drawn to their skating as much as I was to the elegant style and maturity of C/B.
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
While I also enjoyed Rivers/Chapman very much in both programs, I'm not sure why the 6-point difference between their fp and that of Cooke/Bearinger. Yes, Cooke fell on a throw and Bearinger fell on a sbs jump, so they had miscues that can drop you in the standings. Still, C/B seem more polished overall than R/C. Plus, Rivers fell on sbs jumps and had a hand down on a t, hrow. Rivers wore a lovely costume for the free program, and I think R/C's fp concept worked better for them than did C/B's fp in their black costumes. Cooke had worn a striking lavender costume for their lyrical sp where they placed third.
I have to correct my assessments. Now that I reviewed the sp, I forgot how wonderful Rivers/Chapman were in that segment. They skated a rousing and fun performance to MJ's The Way You Make Me Feel, choreographed by Rohene Ward. Rivers wore lovely skating dresses in both programs. Her dress for the sp was very striking. They skated their sp clean, landing their 2-axels, the throw, etc. Comparatively, Cooke/Bearinger had a slight bobble/ stumble out on landing their 2-axels in the sp; plus they were out of sync a bit on their closing sbs spins. I remember feeling that R/C were robbed of a better placement in the sp. That may be why it evened out in the fp, and C/B dropped to 5th exchanging places with R/C. Honestly, in the sp, I would have had Plazas/Fernandez in 5th, C/B 4th, and R/C 3rd. The overall placements after the fp seem more accurate to me now. Still, I think Plazas/Fernandez placed 3rd overall due to the strength and experience of Fernandez, and their coaching team. Plazas has nice qualities, but she's not as strong as her partner. She has difficulty with the jumps, and she has more work to do to catch up with Fernandez. Plus, P/F's programs were rather safe and generic.

Rivers/Chapman are training mates with Martins/Bedard in Chicago under Berton/Brubaker. Not to forget, Brubaker trained with John Nicks and was coached for many years by Nicks' proteges, Meno/Sand. Brubaker had two wonderful competitive partnerships that sadly ended before coming to full fruition. So I'm rooting for him and Stefania to make their mark as coaches. They have some good teams, including the newly paired Lockley/Isbell (after Lockley's split with Keenan Prochnow due to outgrowing each other physically). Rohene Ward choreographed R/C's and M/B's sps.

Clearly, better confidence and technique on the jumps is something so many pairs teams need to work on. The key to Russian pairs dominance is not just the balletic tradition, but also a solid grounding in good technique, and excellent SS.
 

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
... Fernandez has a lot of experience and it shows. ... I forget the names of Fernandez's former partners, but he's been training under Jim Peterson for awhile. It's nice for Fernandez to have placed 3rd in juniors prior to aging out, and moving up to seniors. ...

Three U.S. junior pair men at 2021 Nats would not have been age-eligible for junior internationals in a normal season.

- Ogren, born May 1996
- Bearinger, born Jan 1999
- Fernandez, born Sep 1995​

Not a problem for USFS competition, which AFAIK does not have age requirements for junior and senior.
(Thus, for example, Alysa Liu famously was able to win U.S. senior ladies the season before she became eligible for JGPs and Junior Worlds.)

Regarding Plazas/Fernandez, they never had been age-eligible for junior internationals in the first place, and moving up to senior for 2021-22 was not a matter of aging out.
My understanding is that for the first season of their partnership in 2020-21 -- which also was her very first season in the pairs discipline -- they chose to start as juniors. (With no aspirations for junior internationals, for which they would not have been age-eligible.)

(The birthdates above are in the 2021 Nats event program. The link is available on Fan Zone.)

Joy Weinberg was the name of the partner who won the U.S. junior pairs title with Fernandez a year or two before they both stepped away from the sport.



... I think Cooke/Bearinger are a relatively new team. I remember watching Cooke with former partners. ...

Cooke/Bearinger indeed were a new partnership in 2020-21.

The partnership of Cooke/Chapman placed sixth in junior pairs at 2020 Nats.



... Lockley's split with Keenan Prochnow due to outgrowing each other physically ...

Huh? What's your source? I do not recall Lockley or Prochnow ever giving such a reason for the end of their partnership.
 
Last edited:

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
^^ Thank you. Musical chairs indeed. I remember now the names Cooke/Chapman as a pairing. I think they are more well-suited to their current partners. I figured that Plazas was new to pairs. She's not as strong and confident as Fernandez.

Some of the hesitancies and miscues experienced by C/B in their programs is more than likely due to being new partners. R/C as well, although they look like they've been skating together for awhile with all the fun they had in their sp. I like the height that C/B get on their 2-twist, which should make learning the 3-twist not too difficult to incorporate as seniors.
 
Top