2021-22 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating | Page 32 | Golden Skate

2021-22 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating

skylark

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Not speaking for others, but my personal positive reaction to L/M was that they actually held it together and skated a very good, pretty clean competition. They had their chance and didn't toss it away. I find them appealing, but I'm not fooled into thinking they are currently a major podium threat.

Honestly, isn't a clean competition something to celebrate? An international win?
Absolutely agree! :hap10::bsplit::dance3:
We haven't had a whole lot of those in recent years from our pairs. My recollection is a lot of "if only they hadn't fallen... they COULD have medaled if... except for that wonky element... excuses, excuses, excuses, etc. etc. etc.."

That seems to be a common misperception, which is actually just a little off. Ashley & Tim won U.S. Classic twice (2018 and 2019), won Nepela in 2018, and won Golden Spin in 2019. Tarah and Danny won 4CC in 2018 and US Classic in 2015. Haven and Brandon won Lombardia in 2015 and World Junior Champions in 2013. Okay, that last is reaching rather far back. :laugh: But you even have to reach back to find international wins from Alexa and Chris: Ice Challenge in 2016, US Classic in 2015, and Cup of Nice in 2012. Alexa & Chris's results are surprising, because the perception for years was that they were obviously the best pair USA had to offer. In terms of beautiful pairs elements, that may be the case. And they received the backing of USFS. The other couple, of course, is Alexa & Brandon. Their international wins so far, SA 2020 with only one non-USA pair, and John Nicks Challenge with only 4 non-USA pairs (and those not at the top of their own country's pairs), have been mostly over their US teammates.

If what USFS is looking for are good, steady competitors, then one can see why Ashley & Tim get the chances they have. That, and their PC marks generally show that international judges value their excellent qualities, even when they hit a difficult stretch. They keep improving their pairs elements, and they've worked steadily on their weaknesses and improved their strengths. Their goal this year has been to improve their consistency. With their 3 bronze medals internationally this season, including a GP; and their great showing at NHK, they've shown more of that.


ETA: Alexa & Brandon also won the bronze medal at IdF 2021. In order not to ignore international medals of any color: Haven & Brandon won bronze medals at SA 2020 and IdF 2020. and a bronze at 2018 AC. Ashley & Tim won bronze medals at 2018 SA and 2021 SC. If I've omitted anyone's recent wins or other medals, it's an oversight that I'll correct if it's pointed out.

My hope is that they take this deserved win and gain the confidence to improve their performance and put a little swagger into the elements.

Yes! I like that! A little swagger. :party2:

ETA:

@BlissfulSynergy said:
Swagger and confidence comes when you see the judges consistently rewarding you.
Good point!
 
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twirlingaround

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Absolutely agree! :hap10::bsplit::dance3:


That seems to be a common misperception, which is actually just a little off. Ashley & Tim won U.S. Classic twice (2018 and 2019), won Nepela in 2018, and won Golden Spin in 2019.

Tarah and Danny won 4CC in 2018 and US Classic in 2015. Haven and Brandon won Lombardia in 2015 and World Junior Champions in 2013. Okay, that last is reaching rather far back. :laugh: But you even have to reach back to find international wins from Alexa and Chris: Ice Challenge in 2016, US Classic in 2015, and Cup of Nice in 2012. Alexa & Chris's results are surprising, because the perception for years was that they were obviously the best pair USA had to offer. In terms of beautiful pairs elements, that may be the case. And they received the backing of USFS.

If what USFS is looking for are good, steady competitors, then one can see why Ashley & Tim get the chances they have. That, and their PC marks generally show that international judges value their excellent qualities, even when they hit a difficult stretch. They keep improving their pairs elements, and they've worked steadily on their weaknesses and improved their strengths. Their goal this year has been to improve their consistency. With their 3 bronze medals internationally, including a GP; and their great showing at IdF, they've shown more of that.

The other couple, of course, is Alexa & Brandon. Their international wins so far, SA 2020 with only one non-USA pair, and John Nicks Challenge with only 4 non-USA pairs (and those not at the top of their own country's pairs), have been mostly over their US teammates. They also have many excellent pairs qualities.



Yes! I like that! A little swagger. :party2:


ETA:


Good point!
I think you missed that Alexa and Brandon also medaled at their Grand Prix in France in 2021. Also Ashley and Tim were not at Idf?
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I made this prediction on the assumption that they care for pairs. But of course, I don’t think they would send two pairs. At the moment, either K/F and C/L are about the same in numbers for the TE.
Historically, U.S. fed has not cared about pairs, but that dismissiveness has been changing, and they are trying to further develop their strong pairs discipline (despite a bit of heavy-handedness and lack of political savvy).

By send two pairs, I guess you mean they won't 'select' two pairs for the team event. They will send two pairs teams to the Olympics for the individual pairs event. Team event selection is always a difficult decision. I read in another thread here that the top-ranked skaters get to decide what they want to do in the team event (i.e. to skate or not to skate both programs). Probably with some veto power by U.S. fed.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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We all need to remember too when talking about U.S. pairs over the last 6 to 7 years, that a great deal of forward momentum was lost for the Knierims and for Haven/Brandon due to Alexa's life-threatening illness and difficult comeback, and due to Haven's career-threatening knee injury. That Alexa survived and came back to where she is now, is rarely acknowledged. That Haven was told she would have trouble walking and could never skate again, and to see how far she came back, is rather amazing! Also, kudos to Chris for his resilient devotion and support for Alexa, and to Brandon for his devotion and unwavering loyalty for Haven.

Both of those former teams were on apace to become very competitive at the top internationally. Their progress was dashed, and they had to retool and essentially start over rebuilding their strengths, confidence and stature. It's very fitting that a new, very athletic and exciting team has been formed out of those former teams.

As well, the promising U.S. team, Castelli/Tran, had too many obstacles to overcome after they paired. In that environment, Kayne/O'Shea and Cain/LeDuc, in addition to Stellato/Bartholomay, helped make a difference and kept the ball rolling competitively for U.S. pairs, which is one of the reasons why there's such current depth. The better the top teams are, the better it is for the entire discipline progressing and being inspired!
 

skylark

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I think you missed that Alexa and Brandon also medaled at their Grand Prix in France in 2021. Also Ashley and Tim were not at Idf?

I was responding, in the main body of that post, to @TontoK's statement that US pairs haven't had many international wins in recent years. I agreed that that's the perception that's been created, but I listed the international gold medals that US pairs have earned.

I may have confused you by the placement of the paragraphs about Alexa & Brandon at the end. (That's fixed.) Because I was thinking about gold medals right at that moment, and not all medals, I didn't mention their bronze medal. I've added it now.

You're right about the GPs Ashley & Tim competed this year. It's NHK. I've fixed that. Thanks for the correction.
 
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TontoK

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I was responding, in the main body of that post, to @TontoK's statement that US pairs haven't had many international wins in recent years. I agreed that that's the perception that's been created, but I listed the international gold medals that US pairs have earned.

I may have confused you by the placement of the paragraphs about Alexa & Brandon at the end. (That's fixed.) Because I was thinking about gold medals right at that moment, and not all medals, I didn't mention their bronze medal. I've added it now.

You're right about the GPs Ashley & Tim competed this year. It's NHK. I've fixed that. Thanks for the correction.
I appreciate your corrections.

My intent, with which I ventured a little too far, was to advance my point of view that frequently, when presented an opportunity to change the narrative, our pairs often underperform. This was why I was impressed with Audrey and Misha. They weren't "supposed" to win this competition, but they answered when opportunity knocked.

I still think that's not too far off the mark, but it isn't necessarily limited to US pairs.
 

skylark

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I appreciate your corrections.

My intent, with which I ventured a little too far, was to advance my point of view that frequently, when presented an opportunity to change the narrative, our pairs often underperform. This was why I was impressed with Audrey and Misha. They weren't "supposed" to win this competition, but they answered when opportunity knocked.

I still think that's not too far off the mark, but it isn't necessarily limited to US pairs.

I hope you didn't think I was correcting anyone but myself!

Also, I wasn't arguing with your view or your statements. I meant to say that it's common that people think of US pairs and tend to underemphasize or not remember when they're doing well. So I wanted to list when our pairs did indeed win international competitions in the past few years.

The main thing is that I agree with you that skating 2 clean skates and winning an international event is worth celebrating. And like you said, they answered when opportunity knocked.
 

TontoK

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I hope you didn't think I was correcting anyone but myself!

Also, I wasn't arguing with your view or your statements. I meant to say that it's common that people think of US pairs and tend to underemphasize or not remember when they're doing well. So I wanted to list when our pairs did indeed win international competitions in the past few years.

The main thing is that I agree with you that skating 2 clean skates and winning an international event is worth celebrating. And like you said, they answered when opportunity knocked.
Well, no matter who you meant to correct, your comments applied to me.

Thanks for reminding me that our pairs have done a little better over recent years than I remembered.

Yours is a voice I respect, so I hope we're good.
 

yuki@thelake

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Still feels like pairs is the bastard stepchild in US figure skating. Even for the high-performance camp in January, singles, and dance have a 3-day camp but pairs only 2 days. You can really see where in the totem pole pairs is.
 

ice coverage

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Still feels like pairs is the bastard stepchild in US figure skating. Even for the high-performance camp in January, singles, and dance have a 3-day camp but pairs only 2 days. You can really see where in the totem pole pairs is.

To play devil's advocate:

At National High Performance Development Camp, the third "day" for the other three disciplines really is only about half a day, AFAIK.

And the other disciplines will have multiple "squads" of skaters, whereas pairs will have only one squad.

It does not seem unreasonable to me that working with more skaters would take more time, and that other disciplines with more skaters are being allotted half a day more.​

(As previously discussed, a very high proportion of pairs from Championship Series did advance to High Performance Camp: all six novice pairs + three out of seven juvenile/intermediate pairs. Those odds are much better than for singles skaters.)

Hope all the skaters have a great experience at camp. :)
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I appreciate your corrections.

My intent, with which I ventured a little too far, was to advance my point of view that frequently, when presented an opportunity to change the narrative, our pairs often underperform. This was why I was impressed with Audrey and Misha. They weren't "supposed" to win this competition, but they answered when opportunity knocked.

I still think that's not too far off the mark, but it isn't necessarily limited to US pairs.
I think you are right that U.S. pairs teams need to take advantage of opportunities whenever possible. But the opportunities that come are few and far between, no matter how hard they work and no matter how skilled they are. Plus, it is important to recognize that U.S. pairs teams are the ones working hard for their opportunities. Too often, when some of our teams compete, they are handicapped by perceptions and by U.S. fed's lack of savvy politically.

Lu/Mitrofanov have been slowly building and improving for several seasons. I always liked them from the beginning. But when they were new on the senior scene, they were not the top U.S. team. They had a lot of work to do with their consistency, and the aesthetics involved in projecting to the audience and connecting with each other. In some respects, it has been good for L/M to be a bit under the radar and working hard, and slowly improving. Also, they have good coaches, and the recent move to the new Skating Club of Boston state-of-the-art rink has been a huge asset to their training. With all that in mind, this is a good season for L/M to be breaking out with more consistency and confidence. As relative underdogs, L/M don't have the same ton of pressure on their shoulders that teams like K/F and Ash/Timothy have to deal with.

Also, keep in mind that the judges at Golden Spin were not favoring L/M. A Georgian team, Safina/Berulava, who have been on the senior scene for only a hot minute were placed in front of L/M by percentage points. It could be argued that L/M deserved to be ahead in the sp. But fine, maybe by not being in first after the sp, that scenario helped L/M to skate without added pressure in the fp. In any event, my point is: L/M made their own opportunity. It was clearly NOT given to them. The judges were actually looking to reward the new Georgian teams and the young Russian team, if they could. Had the Canadian teams been on point, the politics would have favored them too over American teams.

Additionally, quite often U.S. pairs teams have had to compete in early groups at competitions, and they haven't typically received scores they deserve. A case in point is Ash/Timothy at Finlandia -- they should have received higher scores in the sp. A&T toughed it out by skating very well in both programs. In the fp, the middling teams placed in front of A&T by percentage points in the sp, showed weaknesses while A&T were steady, and thus A&T ended up winning a bronze medal. That happened through A&T's own grit. It was not anything being handed to them -- they had to work extremely hard for it, because the judges' lowball score for their clean sp was very dismissive.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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^^ Cont'd:

Another example is how Knierim/Frazier were fairly handicapped perception-wise going into Skate America, because politically it had already been decided that the Japanese team should be supported. Fans are behind Miura/Kihara, understandably, because they are a pioneer team for Japan. Obviously, it is exciting to see Japan begin to improve in pairs and ice dance, where they have always been weak (for cultural reasons Japan fed has not focused on couples performing, so their singles disciplines have always been stronger -- but that's changing because of the Olympic Team competition). So, for 2021 Skate America, despite K/F being defending champions re the domestic 2020 SA, there was no concerted political push for K/F to be on the SA podium in 2021. Apparently, U.S. fed was fine with K/F holding their own and coming in 4th, or possibly surprising for a medal, but without much political backing to do so.

I say that because generally Tarasova/Morosov have always tended to be invited to SA, which means a win is practically reserved for them (not that they have won every year they participated, but they're usually always on the podium). Often too, more than one well-regarded Russian team participates at SA,. This year, Boikova/ Koslovskii were also there and apparently also reserved a podium spot, when they are not really as strong as their current scoring rep suggests. And then, Miura/Kihara were also invited, and politically expected to be on the podium. With K/F having placed three spots ahead of M/K at 2021 Worlds, there should have been more support for K/F being on the SA podium, which is their home country's GP event! But no, a clue is that the ISU sent a Japanese rep to SA to hand out medals. With M/K on the rise and a lot of fan enthusiasm, buzz and political backing coming their way, there was apparently no positive energy from U.S. fed behind pushing for K/F.

Thus, K/F had to believe in themselves and perform with extra obstacles in place, which makes it more tough, especially perception-wise in terms of rep and politics. Not only did K/F have to battle their own nerves, they have these other political perception hills and obstacles to overcome. That's quite a lot to deal with.* Again, this is my perception of behind-the-scenes politics. And no, it has nothing to do with a conspiracy. It's just how the sport operates and has operated since forever.

*(Plus honestly, even as things turned out, there's a case to be made that K/F should have gotten a silver medal, based on the fact that the Russian teams were over-scored in the sp, and M/K received high GOE on two elements in the sp, where they should have gotten much lower GOE. Plus, M/K had a hard fall in the fp, which is worse than K/F's miscue on the jumping pass in the sp, and another minor issue in the fp, plus Boikova/Koslovskii had problems in their fp, but had the huge point advantage having been over-scored in the sp.)

Of course, it is up to every U.S. team to be on the ball, and to maintain confidence. But as I said, sometimes high expectations without adequate political support, combined with low-ball scoring for quality attributes, can make building competitive momentum practically impossible. K/F were skating at home, but they were not really being favored politically for a podium spot. That would never happen in Russia, or in Japan, or in China. Even in Canada, SC fed are usually better at politically supporting their top athletes. Of course, at the moment, Canada is struggling somewhat because of the post-2018 Olympics retirements of most of their money skaters (and especially in Canadian pairs, where there isn't currently a lot of well-developed top level teams).
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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Just to add: I agree that skaters can't afford to lay back on excuses. At the same time, for U.S. pairs teams, a number of factors are at play. My first reaction to Golden Spin results was to send L/M and Ash/Timothy to the Olympics. But that was an immediate emotional gut reaction. When you examine it all further, it is obvious that K/F had greater expectations and more to overcome, even though the opportunity was there for them to just perform well and likely take the win at Golden Spin.

In addition, L/M are still young and developing, and they would likely have to skate in the first or second group at Olympics and Worlds. The U.S. is better off sending K/F and Ash/Timothy, two experienced teams to the Olympics. L/M can be sent to 4CCs (along with C/J and Chan/Howe). And L/M could also be assigned first or second alternate to Worlds, depending upon how everything transpires at U.S. Nationals in January.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Great Park holiday send-off videos:

K/F

C/J

Alexa doubled the sbs triple. Maybe there's an improvement with K/F's twist. I also think their sp is one of the best in the world right now. Other skaters have chosen this same music, likely after they announced their selection. I think this is a very good sp, kind of lightly regarded. K/F just need to get their skate blades and their confidence solidly underneath them.

Jess doubled the sbs triple, and Brian landed awkwardly. There really isn't any progress for C/J in correcting their jumping errors. It's gotten to be mentally damaging by this point. They need a complete intervention. Someone needs to be brought in to help them post-haste. It would be a shame to see the other top-level skills these two have go to waste because of the hole they have placed themselves into regarding their nonexistent sbs jumping abilities. They both are clearly lacking in confidence on their jumps, so why should anyone else have any confidence?

Twitter thread about K/F recent media conference ahead of U.S. Nationals:

Plus, recent news articles:





So the Olympics interest and promotion is centered heavily around Lu/Mitrofanov post their Golden Spin win. In addition to local articles on C-G/LD and the NBC promo article on K/R.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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One thing that Alexa mentioned in their press conference, I have constantly emphasized on skating forums: skaters have to compete in order to gain experience and to develop competitive consistency. The sport is not set up for this to happen, so a great deal of talent never fully develops. That's the state of this sport. And nothing is being done about it.

This might be a reason why some members of U.S. fed would want to send L/M to the Olympics, to gain experience for the next cycle. But for the U.S., there's only two spots for pairs (a shame when they were so close to gaining three spots at 2021 Worlds). So U.S. Nationals results will be interesting. Odds-on favorites are probably K/F and C-G/LD, but L/M can't be counted out. In my opinion, C/J's jumping woes will keep them out of consideration, sadly. C/J obviously can perform huge at Nationals though, but I wouldn't count on it as far as their jumping ability currently goes.
 

gold12345

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Thanks for those Sendoff videos. Knierim/Frazier's SP looks really great, the best impression I've had of it so far. That was just a few days after returning from Croatia, so maybe a bit of a hangover for Alexa because she never does a 3T like that, but the performance overall and energy was some of their best. And as a newer pair, it was good for them to get in front of an audience again (even on limited rest). It's great their SP is a different style from their LP, and both programs work well for them. Big and explosive throw 3F. They've really improved it; it's as big as their throw 3Lo this season.

Alexa also posted a clean run-through yesterday of the major elements in their SP, which looked great. Their twist looked very airy and easy, drastically better than the shaky ones they did in Zagreb. They probably just need continual mileage with it, but they do have a great twist. And when it goes awry, it seems they're able to easily fix/improve it. And that's a key difference between them and Calalang/Johnson who are very good but have chronic issues that can't be fixed from week to week. It's definitely possible they skate well at Nationals, but they still haven't shown they can land more than an rare jump in an Intl competition. Their throw 3Lz is kinda inherently sketchy too. And they missed several bigger competitions. This gives Cain/LeDuc an edge even if their scores have kinda been all over the place, and on average not really better than C/J's.

________

Keeping Golden Spin in perspective--- Lu/Mitrofanov's score would have placed 6th at Skate America, behind two US pairs, both of whom left points on the table and have greater scoring potential than L/M (granted, Calalang/Johnson's scoring potential mainly involves them jumping far better than they ever have internationally, but K/F's scoring potential is more realistically obtainable since their mistakes are more correctable). Knierim/Frazier's score of 186.69 at Golden Spin, by far their lowest ever, is still higher than the 186.16 L/M posted at their most recent Grand Prix event.

With clean programs, L/M are the 13th ranked pair on the Season's Best list. Scoring 195 for your best ever skates is a personal victory for L/M and you can't take that away from them, but that's not what you want a pair to be scoring for clean skates when you're trying to maximize a country's potential at an Olympics. The US hasn't had a second pair really emerge as a frontrunner, which is why L/M are in the conversation. They've skated clean programs before, but it's never been a big deal because although they have improved, there's many areas where they aren't getting many points. Everything from the death spirals to the throws to the choreo to the lack of two 7.0 base value lifts, it all matters. Even their jumps don't tend to rake in that much GOE. I'm hoping the US won't go overboard if they skate clean, because no international panel ever has. There's more to this than staying upright. It's easier to not fall the lower your throw is.

This might be a reason why some members of U.S. fed would want to send L/M to the Olympics, to gain experience for the next cycle. But for the U.S., there's only two spots for pairs (a shame when they were so close to gaining three spots at 2021 Worlds). So U.S. Nationals results will be interesting. Odds-on favorites are probably K/F and C-G/LD, but L/M can't be counted out. In my opinion, C/J's jumping woes will keep them out of consideration, sadly. C/J obviously can perform huge at Nationals though, but I wouldn't count on it as far as their jumping ability currently goes.

Other top pair countries send the same pair skaters to the Olympics repeatedly and have had a clear advantage over the US in that regard, so I really want Alexa to build on her first Olympic experience and go to a second Olympics (she skated quite well there; unfortunately Chris had some big mistakes and it was the deepest Olympic pairs field ever). But Alexa deserved that first Olympic experience- she and Chris were our best pair in 2018... we weren't just sending them to "get experience". You send your best skaters to the Olympics, period. There's no telling what a pair might do 4 years from now. I mean, Vanessa James is currently skating with Eric Radford-- pairs is the least predictable thing ever.

People have said Lu/Mitrofanov are very smart academically and high achievers outside of skating. In the past, we've seen US skaters like Felicia Zhang go to the Olympics with a very limited resume (didn't feel like the right choice, but that's off-topic) and be "happy to be there" and then go off to college. When your resume is that limited, attending an Olympics can seem a lot more like the "end goal" or pinnacle of a career. Audrey, especially, is at a transitional stage where you decide your college plans. Who knows which skaters will actually continue, never mind become key players. So to me, there has to be a much greater reason to send a skater to the Olympics than "to gain experience". L/M have never even been to a 4CC or scored so well on the GP, and it's their 6th season. The Olympics is not the place to begin gaining experience. Skating clean and scoring very high are two different things. But as you said they can't be counted out.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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^^ Thanks for your thoughts @gold12345.

I don't have much, if any, disagreement with your assessments. I don't need any convincing. Probably there are members of U.S. fed that might better benefit from your rundown. When I mentioned sending skaters for the competitive experience, I was actually using the reasoning the fed seems to fall back on, or that I've heard is their reasoning for some selections. I agree that the Olympics is not necessarily the place to gain the experience. It should be an opportunity for those skaters who have done a lot of heavy lifting to have the often once in a lifetime or second in a lifetime chance to take part in. But as we know, the selection process and the sport itself just aren't fair nor consistent.

For example, I felt very strongly that Ashley Wagner should have gone to the 2018 Olympics over Karen Chen. I've said so often. I also feel Ross Miner earned the chance to be at the Olympics for how he skated at the 2018 Nationals and for his entire career of achievements, despite not competing as well over his last few seasons. The selection should have been between Vincent (in third place) and Adam (in fourth place). That it was not handled that way tells us that the U.S. fed members and judges assumed that Adam and Jason would perform to their level and easily score enough points to come ahead of Ross, which would have pushed Ross to 4th place and Vincent to 5th place. U.S. fed did not count on how things turned out instead.

I often wonder if Adam had placed just ahead of Vincent (their scores were a hairsbreadth apart -- and I feel Vincent was over-scored), would the fed have then tried to choose Vincent over Ross? There really was not a good reason not to send Ross, especially under the circumstances of how his coach Mark Mitchell had qualified for the Olympics so many years earlier, but was blocked from going because the fed wished to send Todd Eldredge who hadn't competed at Nationals due to injury. Eldredge didn't even compete well at the Olympics, which made it doubly a shame that Mitchell didn't get sent. It was way too much to see his student Ross suffer a similar fate. Getting to go to Worlds is no consolation for being excluded from the Olympics, especially after medaling at Nationals.

I also agree with you that Denney/Coughlin (if they were healthy enough) should have probably gone to the Olympics in lieu of Zhang/Bartholomay. Still, Z/B performed a crowd-pleasing performance at Nationals and quite a number of observers were swayed by the electricity of the moment (ignoring their slow speed, lack of power and pop, and no high profile with international judges). Still, the purists tend to feel: send those who win placements at Nationals. Beyond selection processes though, there should be much more attention being paid to finding a way for athletes to be able to gain competitive experience which is crucial to development. There's an imbalance in the sport's competitive structure.

Regarding L/M and their academics, I would disagree that there's a chance of them not going the distance in skating over the next four years. They are both prioritizing their skating careers. These days, it is often possible for skaters to pursue an education while continuing to skate, and then taking time off to concentrate more fully on skating in the lead-up to the Olympics. At the moment, both Audrey and Misha are taking a break from academic studies, based on their comments in recent interviews. Also, I don't think we should compare Zhang's career and priorities with those of Lu/Mitrofanov (L/M do not have 'limited resumes,' despite needing more competitive experience). Zhang skated during a very different time and she's a different person. The fed was thinking differently at the time too. Perhaps they didn't want to rub Z/B's coach, Jim Peterson, the wrong way. Who knows! Or maybe, there was reason to believe Denney/Coughlin would not be recovered physically in time to contribute at the Olympics.
 
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skylark

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Or maybe, there was reason to believe Denney/Coughlin would not be recovered physically in time to contribute at the Olympics.
No, D/C only withdrew from Worlds because of Caydee's injury, which happened after the Olympics. "They withdrew due to Denney's right ankle injury, sustained in practice on March 19," according to Wiki. A few years ago, I looked up the Body of Work specifications and how it applied to Denney/Coughlin in 2014. The way I remember it, the deciding factor was 2013 Nationals, which D/C skipped because of John's injury (it required hip surgery). Zhang/Bartholomay won the bronze medal at 2013 Nationals. When I actually wrote down everything that was counted, and was stated in the rules as to be counted in order to select the team to go to the Olympics, that's what I recall the difference being. (I mean, bottom line, they'll send who they want to send, but writing it all down made it seem that the BOW rules were strictly followed.) D/C also decided not to compete at 2013 Worlds, although they'd petitioned successfully to go.

I remember Caydee saying that they'd hoped the same kind of exception would be made for them as was made in the Ashley Wagner/Mirai Nagasu situation ... but Ashley clearly had a huge BOW advantage over Mirai. It looked to me like USFS went strictly by their stated rules, as far as the weight each event was given, in comparing the BOW of D/C and Z/B.

And I agree with you that Ashley Wagner should have competed at the 2018 Olympics. Just looking back at the facts, it makes me wonder 'what were they thinking?' But I thought so at the time as well.

I do think that there's always a lot of excitement when a singles skater or a pair sort of leaps into the attention and the view of everyone, which is what seems to be happening with Audrey and Misha right now. (As I've said before, I've been liking and keeping my eye on them since 2018 International Classic.) When I think of how excited everyone was for Jessica and Brian in Nats 2020, and even in 2019, it seems similar although there are huge differences, as J&B already had a lot of experience with other partners. Gracie Gold in 2013 or 2014, and Jason Brown in the 2013-14 season. Plenty of skating fans knew about them, but sudden visibility "talks," and I wonder if the excitement somehow leaks into the Fed's thinking. Bradie Tennell in 2017-18. Polina Edmonds at Nationals 2014. I could go on, but I won't. :)
 
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