2021 US Nationals: Pairs FS - Thoughts and Observations

gsk8

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"We're elated with our performance!" said Knierim. "It was a fight for us out there, but we are very proud of what we put out there and are excited for the future."

"There were several elements like the death spiral that got real tight," explained Frazier. "Towards the end our second lift didn't have a good 'up' so that was a fight there, I wasn't balanced well. Going into our choreo steps, a lot of emotions were going through us at that point. It was a long week and the body gets tired and we both just really had to reach down deep and push through it."
So what did you think of the Pairs FS? What were your favorite performances? Which of the younger teams show the most potential to you?
 
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Dogo

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Oct 2, 2020
I want to hug Jessica so bad and tell her that everything will be alright. Also, Brian showing us how much of a supportive partner he can be makes me teary šŸ„²

This team will be the death of me. Hopefully USFS understands that it works on our favor to hype more pairs in this discipline than just one.
 

Skater Boy

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Feb 24, 2012
Jessica and Brian will bounce back. They still are developing and a great second team. However Alexa and Brandon look like they are world medal contenderrs considering their scores et al. A couple of years ago the USFA set the goal of beatig the Canadians - well Brandon and Alexa are goign to do that easily and with Russia kind of in a lull Knerim/Frazer could be as high as second come worlds or olympics. (Lull by russian standards still mean medal contenders just probably not gold.
 

HKSZYU

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Knierim/Frazier were solid, but I can't help but feel like several of their elements were overscored, particularly the lifts. Some of the lift entrances/exits felt awkward, and the lifts themselves didn't have the carriage or security of top international teams. I'll be interested to see how international judges view them.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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I have a lot of thoughts and observations that I fairly much already posted in the competition threads and in the general U.S. pairs thread. I'm happy for Ash & Timothy. Ashley looked much calmer. And I love these fp outfits so much better than the stark deep blue they wore at ISP Challenge.

Timothy was apparently worried about Ashley on the first jumping pass and missed his landing. I wish pairs could learn to worry about their own jump first and not obsess over their partner's issues. I'm sure that's easier said than done. But witness Brandon & Alexa, confidently landing those jumps and thus gaining trust in each other. Once they know they can land the jumps consistently, then they can work on unison and spacing.

Media and U.S. fed need to relax the hype over K/F which is not needed. Their talent shines brightly, and that's what speaks volumes without some 'super team' meaningless narrative being unnecessarily framed, which IMO only serves to distract. Jess & Brian need to believe in themselves more and tune out the OTT chatter and buzz circulating around their rink. Stay grounded, stay focused. Only with K/F and C/J pushing each other can U.S. pairs get a third spot. That would be such icing on the cake. But the first order of business is taking care of their individual business.

Brandon gave a great, grounded response in the post-fp interview with Andrea Joyce. He's right about getting back to working hard at the rink. They've got more tweaking to do to continue improving. They need to work on unison, and eliminating Alexa's brushing with the free foot on landings. There's always room for improvement, and the best champions know that. No great champion ever rests on their laurels or allow themselves to be distracted by huge scores and media pandering. The media is just as eager to tear down as they are to build up.

When Johnny and Tara spoke of crying during K/F's fp, I was like, eh! Lots of pleasant moments. It's a pretty program, but they can skate it even stronger. This was not a perfect performance. It was pretty good, but not perfect. I'm gonna wait till I see K/F on the podium at Worlds and C/J very close behind them in great position or even in front of K/F, with placements that add up to a third U.S. pairs spot. Then, you will find me bawling with sheer joy.

Plus, I'm eager to see a U.S. pairs championship take place where every team skates their very best, sorta like the top men did today in the sp. Now that's the excitement I'm looking for.

The pairs World team selections will be announced tomorrow morning at 7am PT, so I suppose that's 10:00am ET.
Team USA | U.S. Figure Skating

It's going to be interesting to see whether U.S. fed will go with Ash/Timothy over C/J because C/J didn't skate with the confidence we saw at last year's Nationals.

NBC never posted C/J's winning fp from last year on their YouTube channel. But they decided to post C/J's subpar fp this year. SMH
 

aka_gerbil

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Jessica and Brian will bounce back. They still are developing and a great second team. However Alexa and Brandon look like they are world medal contenderrs considering their scores et al. A couple of years ago the USFA set the goal of beatig the Canadians - well Brandon and Alexa are goign to do that easily and with Russia kind of in a lull Knerim/Frazer could be as high as second come worlds or olympics. (Lull by russian standards still mean medal contenders just probably not gold.
K/F have promise, but they will not get those scores they got here internationally.

Also, the last thing Iā€™d call Russian pairs skating right now is in a lull. If S/H have a bad day and T/M and B/K are clean, they could go down to both of them at the same time and end up 3rd.
 

mrrice

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Knierim/Frazier were solid, but I can't help but feel like several of their elements were overscored, particularly the lifts. Some of the lift entrances/exits felt awkward, and the lifts themselves didn't have the carriage or security of top international teams. I'll be interested to see how international judges view them.
What I like about this team is that they know they still have a lot of work to do. They are certainly technically great but, they simply need time to develop that "Connection" that teams gain when they've been together for a long time. Brandon was quite realistic when he said, We have to get back to the rink and keep working. It really doesn't matter if they medal at Worlds, they need to get themselves some international exposure.
 
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gsk8

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"I know that we had a few mistakes in the program, but for us it felt like a huge wind coming off the ice, feeling like Ashley and Timothy," said Cain-Gribble. "It's been a long time since we felt that way. We felt like numerous times we were looking on the outside at ourselves, and this time I felt like were fully engaged in the performance and every piece of the choreography. We gave it everything we had. We chose not to stand in our way today and just let ourselves skate freely."
 

skylark

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Ashley and Tim captured my heart yet again. :love: I'm so happy for Ashley, because she said afterwards that she felt she "let go and became the athlete that I am." The whole past year + several months had been a struggle. I love that little phrase "let go." I hope that this confidence carries forward and stays with her. As we're told time and again, figure skating is 90% mental. It must be frustrating for Tim to have fallen on the 3loop, but it can happen ... but hey, then they did that gorgeous 3-jump combo! so, a good recovery already. I'm happy that they came 2nd in the long program. I grew to love the Rach II music for them as they grew into it, but something was always bothering me about the build-up, or lack of, in the music -- and then in the comp thread @anonymoose_au succinctly nailed it: "Gasp! they cut the best part of the music!" Yes! and Ashley and Tim could have created such drama with that great part, with their lines, their unison, and their intensity. That's down to the choreographer. But I can tell he, or they all 3, wanted to do something different with this music. I do love how the music makes Ashley glow, especially in the fleeting places where she looks heavenward. Oh, and I love her beautiful arabesque positions on a couple of the lifts, also the one in the SP where she stretches her legs out straight. I love to see her and Tim own their space and own that rink! Oh, and that SBS falling leaf :bow:

Jessica was disappointed, understandably, but I wonder if part of it wasn't that she was still rattled after the scary dismount on that lift. But I trust her coaches will analyze it and she'll bounce back. Her lifts with Brian are just so delicious, so extraordinary. The jumps seem to be getting into her head a bit; maybe she can take a cue from her friend Ashley C-G and "let go." (It's easier said than done.) Jessica's strong back and beautiful positions make their lifts, twist and throw jumps really striking. I love their on-ice connection too.

I've been a fan of Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov for years now, watching them progress. Misha's got such character on the ice and I love his genuine smiles. Audrey has a ways to go to match his expression. Their jumping is great, and although they doubled the Sal last night, they have a 3S-euler-3S, very impressive and good unison. I enjoy Audrey's long-legged look, but I think adjusting to her growth must have been quite a task for Misha. A picture of the two when first paired shows her seemingly not much more than waist-high to Misha!

Now, to Katie McBeath and Nate Bartholomay. This was their first competition, ever! They're a new favorite this year for me, even after I only saw them in the ISP videos. But Katie has that "It" factor, showing such joy with her face and overall movement as she skates. I love how Nate is with her -- over the years, I've noticed he subtly changes his on-ice personality to go with his partner at the time. It's a strength in a pairs skater to be able to do that. Their technique is coming along nicely for such a brand-new pair girl. And their 3twist is gorgeous. In fact, as I watched last night, I felt that their twist was better than Nate's with any of his previous partners. Maybe it's that factor that Johnny Weir talks about, where the woman needs to add her own "push" to the lift and momentum the man's throw gives her. At exactly the right milli-second in time.

Olivia and Mervin look a little more like a pair this year. I think Olivia needs time to develop comfort and confidence in lifts. One thing I noticed is that both veteran pairs men with absolute beginners for partners -- that would be Mervin and Nate -- missed their SBS jumps when the partner completed hers! It just points to how difficult it is to coordinate jumps ... like SBS jumps in themselves are a moving target.
 
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skylark

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"I know that we had a few mistakes in the program, but for us it felt like a huge wind coming off the ice, feeling like Ashley and Timothy," said Cain-Gribble. "It's been a long time since we felt that way. We felt like numerous times we were looking on the outside at ourselves, and this time I felt like were fully engaged in the performance and every piece of the choreography. We gave it everything we had. We chose not to stand in our way today and just let ourselves skate freely."

"Skate freely." I love this so much. It's one of the intangible qualities that can give sport that something extra and make it into an art. It's not achievable 100% of the time, but it's something to aspire to. And when skaters achieve it, as Ashley and Timothy did in their FS last night, the experience is transformed for them, and whether audiences realize it or not, the viewing experience can also be transformed.

Also known as being in flow, which can be down-to-earth thrilling and ethereal at the same time. Like Jayne Torvill said of their 1984 Olympic FD to Bolero. She said that after the program was over, she had no memory of skating it, and she even went on to say that those were their best skates, when that happened.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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So I see U.S. figure skating hasn't made the announcement yet for the pairs selection for Worlds. It now says on fanzone that announcements for pairs, ice dance, and men will be made "Sunday evening." Sometime after the men's event concludes then. They must have made the decision for pairs in a meeting early this morning (as indicated on the main U.S. figure skating website).

ETA:
But now in what form will the announcement be made? In writing on their website? At a press conference? On their Twitter?

Announcement was posted on their website... Now it's just a matter of finding out whether or not Worlds will happen this year.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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On the Peacock broadcast of the pairs fp, I could tell that Alexa/Brandon are grounded, so I won't worry about the media chatter affecting them adversely. They were sitting there telling the viewers how hard it was getting through their program and that they had to fight for everything. They even said that Chris is not going to be happy with their death spiral. LOL! So much for J&T 'being brought to tears' while watching their fp! :LOL:


Are there any links to press conferences, aside from U.S. figure skating Twitter clips?
 
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