U.S. Pairs 2019-20 season - News & Updates, Part X

Sylvia

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Time for a new season thread! Grand Prix assignments announced as of June 20, 2019:

Ashley Cain-Gribble/Timothy LeDuc (Skate America & France)
Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (Skate America & France)
Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea (Cup of China & NHK/Japan)
Alexa Scimeca-Knierim/Chris Knierim (Skate Canada & NHK/Japan)
Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson (Skate Canada) - this is their GP debut as a team & his GP debut
Audrey Lu/Misha Mitrofanov (Russia)
Skate America 3rd spot TBD
 
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stjeaskategym

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The NHK Trophy field is really stacked with Sui/Han, James/Cipres and a slew of other strong pairs. A tough break to have two US pairs in that field.

It's not that it's impossible to do well in that field-- the Knierims did win a medal in a strong NHK field last season-- but a GP event isn't supposed to feel like Worlds, and it's a dramatically stronger field than some of the other GPs.

If only the ISU would divvy up the GP assignments themselves and keep the playing fields as even as possible instead of leaving a lot of it in the hands of the host countries. It creates lopsidedness.

But all the skaters can do is the best they can regardless of the fields, and I'm sure there's great appeal in competing in Japan with huge audiences. It's not a bad thing for pairs to be tested against stronger competition more often either.
 
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Sylvia

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Copying over links related to the U.S. Pairs Camp, June 8 to 14 in Westminster, Colorado, from the previous thread:

Misha Ge provided many clips from U.S. Pairs Camp via his IG:
Dance class: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByjjjOggmXZ/
Skating skills: https://www.instagram.com/p/BymHx4EppEB/

All 10 of the senior pairs listed in the ISP attended the camp: Cain/LeDuc, Calalang/Johnson, Denney/Frazier, Nica Digerness/Danny Neudecker, Sarah Feng/TJ Nyman, Kayne/O’Shea, Knierims, Laiken Lockley/Keenan Prochnow, Lu/Mitrofanov, Allison Timlen/Justin Highgate-Brutman; plus Jessica Pfund/Joshua Santillan and the new team of Emily Chan/Spencer Howe.
(Note: Olivia Serafini/Mervin Tran did not attend but I heard they plan to be at another pairs camp later this summer.)

Nina Mozer was back with her team as well, including Fedor Klimov: https://www.instagram.com/p/Byl90kSoRP9/

More from Misha Ge's IG:

Both Seniors and Juniors got so much into choreography we practiced on the floor, that they request me to do “Ice Pop Class Version”. (US Pairs Camp): https://www.instagram.com/p/ByrsrWipnLn/

Skating Art Lesson: Elegancy & Lines (2nd Senior Group): https://www.instagram.com/p/ByrS1AKAQUH/
In order of appearance in the clip: Pfund/Santillan, Timlen/Highgate-Brutman, Lu/Mitrofanov, Feng/Nyman, Digerness/Neudecker, Chan/Howe.

Trying to replicate the famous toe steps sequence from Yagudin's "Winter": https://www.instagram.com/p/BysvexWAnTt/

Group shots #1: https://www.instagram.com/p/Byt8mfIJl_-/
Senior group 1 (five pairs) in bottom right corner; Senior group 2 (six pairs listed above) is bottom left;
Senior/Junior group 3 is top right: Lockley/Prochnow, Ellie McClellan/Matthew Rounis (new), Kate Finster/Balazs Nagy, Isabelle Martins/Ryan Bedard;
Junior group 4: Grace Knoop/Blake Eisenach, Isabelle Goldstein/Keyton Bearinger, Cate Fleming/Jedidiah Isbell, Anastasiia Smirnova/Danil Siianytsia, and the 3 new teams of Sydney Flaum/Alex Wellman, Analise Gonzalez/Franz-Peter Jerosch, Sydney Cooke/Timmy Chapman.
Having fun in the group shot #2: https://www.instagram.com/p/Byt91w1J13u/
 
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kwanfan1818

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There's usually one situation where a very strong skater/team underachieves or makes a comeback and is as much of a threat as a 1-3 seed, and depending on the draw for selection order, a given Fed may have no choice but to select a given skater or team who is left in a selection group. There may be factors other than travel costs or thoughtlessness or horse trading that determine the fields.
 

stjeaskategym

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There's usually one situation where a very strong skater/team underachieves or makes a comeback and is as much of a threat as a 1-3 seed, and depending on the draw for selection order, a given Fed may have no choice but to select a given skater or team who is left in a selection group. There may be factors other than travel costs or thoughtlessness or horse trading that determine the fields.
Yes which is why the ISU should give out assignments themselves instead of having the host countries determining the fields somewhat at random. A more effective way to create even playing fields would be to base selections strictly on scoring average, Worlds results, the Season's Best list. Creating even playing fields should be top priority, especially if they continue to base GP Final qualifiers on placements instead of scores.

The top 9 from Worlds used to be seeded for GP assignments, so there would never be more than 3 teams from the top 9 in any one GP event. I don't recall why they stopped doing that, but it kept the fields better balanced.

4 of the top 8 pairs from 2019 Worlds are at the same GP event, which is obviously a lot. Every pair in the NHK field is either a Grand Prix medalist or the reigning World Jr Champ (who are quite good). It's an abnormally stacked GP field.

James/Cipres had an off Worlds, which gave them a lower seeding, but one could easily claim they were a top 2 pair in the world last season, and this should be taken into account when determining GP fields. A similar scenario happened in 2017 when Duhamel/Radford underperformed at Worlds and threw off the GP seeding for 2018. There are also regular occurrences of top pairs getting injured and missing Worlds. Given how often scenarios like this happen, one would think the ISU would come up with a better system of assigning GPs.

For some reason they've never addressed the issue of lopsided GP fields. There's no surefire way of preventing certain GPs from being bloodbaths, or certain events from being weak, but there are more effective ways of making GP selections.
 
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kwanfan1818

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The top 9 from Worlds used to be seeded for GP assignments, so there would never be more than 3 teams from the top 9 in any one GP event. I don't recall why they stopped doing that, but it kept the fields better balanced.
They only thing they changed is having teams 7-10 in the third group for Pairs and Dance, when they made the requirement Top 10 instead of Top 12, when they had four groups of three like singles. The seeds are the first two groups, 1-3 and 4-6, and the last group is 7-10.

I supposed they could have prevented a Fed from selecting 7-8 and forced them to take #10 as a stand-alone group. (In Dance, there was less than 1 point difference between 9-10.)

What you're suggesting for the actual seeds is exactly what happened, since James/Cipres, like Kihira in Ladies, dropped to 4th after being a favorite.
 
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stjeaskategym

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They only thing they changed is having teams 7-10 in the third group for Pairs and Dance, when they made the requirement Top 10 instead of Top 12, when they had four groups of three like singles. The seeds are the first two groups, 1-3 and 4-6, and the last group is 7-10.

I supposed they could have prevented a Fed from selecting 7-8 and forced them to take #10 as a stand-alone group. (In Dance, there was less than 1 point difference between 9-10.)

What you're suggesting for the actual seeds is exactly what happened, since James/Cipres, like Kihira in Ladies, dropped to 4th after being a favorite.
You've lost me. If they seed 1-3, 4-6, and 7-10, then there should only be 3 teams from the top 10 at Worlds at any one Grand Prix. Regardless of what exactly the rule is, there should be no more than 3 teams. 4 of the top 8 pairs from Worlds ended up at NHK Trophy. In pair skating, this is too many. There aren't that many pairs worldwide for this many good teams to end up at the same event.

And the ISU never takes into account scenarios where top teams underperform at Worlds or are injured and miss Worlds all together. And there is enough leeway in the rules where countries may either stack GP fields or weaken them to protect the home skaters. My point is, the GP fields could be better balanced, and it should be in the hands of the ISU to do so. Right now it feels like too much of a crapshoot, which field you end up in. And it's too bad that multiple US pairs have to face a World level field at a regular GP event. I think a challenge is good, but it doesn't make much sense when you see other GPs with rosters not nearly as deep.
 
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shan

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Looking forward to see how US pairs have improved in this off season. And I'm excited to see the debut of Chan/Howe, whenever/wherever that may be. :)
 

aftershocks

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The NHK Trophy field is really stacked with Sui/Han, James/Cipres and a slew of other strong pairs. A tough break to have two US pairs in that field.

It's not that it's impossible to do well in that field-- the Knierims did win a medal in a strong NHK field last season-- but a GP event isn't supposed to feel like Worlds, and it's a dramatically stronger field than some of the other GPs.

If only the ISU would divvy up the GP assignments themselves and keep the playing fields as even as possible instead of leaving a lot of it in the hands of the host countries. It creates lopsidedness.

But all the skaters can do is the best they can regardless of the fields, and I'm sure there's great appeal in competing in Japan with huge audiences. It's not a bad thing for pairs to be tested against stronger competition more often either.
IMO, the entire ISU competitive structure for figure skating is woefully outdated, considering the depth of talent in all disciplines. In fact, promising talent (in all disciplines, but especially in pairs) has great difficulty developing under this outdated system, which seriously stunts the sport's growth. But, oh well. As currently constituted, I don't see the ISU doing much rethinking or long term planning to help bring the sport into the 21st century.
 

aftershocks

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James/Cipres had an off Worlds, which gave them a lower seeding, but one could easily claim they were a top 2 pair in the world last season, and this should be taken into account when determining GP fields.
For the last two seasons at least, James/Cipres have competed at Skate Canada and France. I believe the main reason J/C are competing at NHK this season is because they need a later start to the GP season as a result of their decision to take part in the new Battle of the Blades Canadian figure skating tv series. Therefore, they preferred to compete at IDF for their first GP, and NHK for their second GP (regardless of what the seeds have shaped up to look like).
 

Sylvia

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Compiling the currently known program music of the six Grand Prix teams and copying over Instagram skating clip links from the previous thread:

Cain-Gribble/LeDuc
SP: "A Storm is Comin" (featuring Liv Ash); choreo. by Misha Ge
FS: "Experience" by Ludovico Einaudi & music from the Moonlight OST, choreo. by Pasquale Camerlengo

Denney/Frazier
FS: The Lion King (revamped version of their 2014-15 FS), choreo. by Renee Roca (several practice clips): https://www.instagram.com/p/ByY49kfnbH1/

Kayne/O'Shea
SP: Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" by Mark Hadley (feat. Dresage), choreo. by Charlie White
FS: Les Miserables medley, choreo. by Pasquale Camerlengo
7 clips of Kayne/O'Shea performing various elements in April (footwork into sbs 3S, throw 3Lz(or F), 3twist, throw 3Lo, throw 3S, sbs 3T, lift): https://www.instagram.com/p/BwuvuIUlPdg/

Scimeca Knierim/Knierim
SP: "At Last" by Beyoncé (arrangement by Maxime Rodriguez)
FS: "Drop of Fragrance" (original composition?) by Maxime Rodriguez paired with "Experience" by Ludovico Einaudi
Choreographer: Benoit Richaud

Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson
SP: "Light of the Seven" (from Game of Thrones) by Ramin Djawadi, choreo. by Benoit Richaud
FS: "You Are The Reason" by Calum Scott & Leona Lewis, choreo. by Cindy Stuart

Audrey Lu/Misha Mitrofanov
SP: "Skyfall"/James Bond music (clip): https://www.instagram.com/p/BxKmC_5lJSg/
FS: "Live For The One I Love" (second clip with the sbs 3T) is the song from the Notre-Dame de Paris musical: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx2oW9qnU6A/

Other Senior pairs:

Sarah Feng/TJ Nyman (contender for Skate America TBD spot)
SP: "I Put a Spell on You" (male vocal)
FS: Adagio in G Minor by Albinoni - 3 recent practice clips: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByGxk-rnuBg/
Choreographer: Pasquale Camerlengo
Several practice clips from sections of their programs in April: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwsY5vWlyux/
Clips #1 (choreo into throw 3Lo), 2 & 5 (transition moves into sbs 3T) are from their FS; clip #4 (steps/Sarah does a forward spiral into sbs 3S) is from their SP and #3 could be the ending?

Laiken Lockley/Keenan Prochnow
SP: "Seven Nation Army" by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
FS: "I Can't Go On Without You” by KALEO
Choreographers: Massimo Scali, Matteo Zanni

Nica Digerness/Danny Neudecker's new throw 3Lz(or F) in practice: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByFuIwjnSpS/

Allison Timlen/Justin Highgate-Brutman's programs again were choreographed by Massimo Scali (music not yet known). Latest update after pairs camp (5 photos): https://www.instagram.com/p/By1GnE3HaNT/

Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (new)
First news of their partnership was posted on their coaches' IG on May 8 (identified as a FS clip): https://www.instagram.com/p/BxNPfp0lm_S/
Emily Chan and Spencer Howe have a great look together!
[Step sequence to "Je crois entendre encore" (violin) from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers] https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxk8SDPnyqz/?igshid=cs142dfj7u8s
[sbs 3Ts] https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx0y4clnn3u/?igshid=7ubbhz2fvnth
Olivia Serafini's blog post about her and Mervin Tran's move to Monsey, New York: https://livsk8er.wixsite.com/livnlearn/post/a-place-called-home
They skated their SP in exhibition (choreo. by Julie Marcotte) in NYC in May and the song is "Better Than Yourself" by Lukas Graham -- clip includes throw 3Lz: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxqhsdPnbI8/
 
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kwanfan1818

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You've lost me. If they seed 1-3, 4-6, and 7-10, then there should only be 3 teams from the top 10 at Worlds at any one Grand Prix. Regardless of what exactly the rule is, there should be no more than 3 teams. 4 of the top 8 pairs from Worlds ended up at NHK Trophy. In pair skating, this is too many. There aren't that many pairs worldwide for this many good teams to end up at the same event.
If there are 4 skaters in the last group (7-10), and each one of them gets two spots, that's eight spots among six hosts. The first two hosts in the selection draw have to take one extra skater from that group before SB 24 without two are chosen.

In the past, there were four groups of three, not three groups of three, because the Top 12 were guaranteed two spots, and each host chose from 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12, just like in singles. However, since there were only 16 Pairs that made the FS, in some years with retirements and splits, and with the move-up rule to fill those spaces, they were getting dangerously close to guaranteeing spots to very weak teams who missed the FS at Worlds, hence the reduction to 10 Pairs (and Dance teams) who were guaranteed two, and the creation of the 1-3, 4-6, and 7-10 groups.
 

Princessroja

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You know who I'm excited about seeing this year? Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov. She's only 12 (13 now?) and he 19 (20 now?), so they'll miss being able to be on the international circuit entirely until she's 15. BUT they've been on the podium at every nationals event they've gone to, and I'm curious to see how they continue to do. Hard road with that age gap, but they do seem like a very solid team.
 

kwanfan1818

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Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov. She's only 12 (13 now?) and he 19 (20 now?), so they'll miss being able to be on the international circuit entirely until she's 15.
That actually depends: if she's 13 by July 1, and he's not 21 by July 1, they are eligible for international juniors. (If he's 19 by July 1, they'd have two years of international eligibility, but one year if he's 20 by July 1. Or, if she's 12 by July 1 and he's 19 by July 1, they could skate international juniors next year, when she's 13 by July 1, 2020 and he's 20 by July 1, 2020.
 

Colonel Green

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The US pairs did well in the initial assignment numbers, though they’re all in tough fields.

We’ll see who gets the SkAm TBD.
 

Sylvia

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@Princessroja, ICYMI in the previous thread:
... USFS sent the Mokhov siblings, Ivan and Maria (2019 U.S. Junior pewter medalists), to the ISU Pair Skating Development Training Seminar in Berlin, Germany, April 11-20, 2019 - 8 photos from the seminar are posted on Ivan's IG here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwlKbapF1Hj/
It was a nice opportunity for them because she is 12 [born Aug. 2006] and he is 20 [born Feb. 1999] and they won't be able to compete together at the junior level internationally. More info on this seminar: https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/threads/pairs-discussion-thread-2019-20-“two-skating-as-one”.105581/#post-5582599
 

aftershocks

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n8PkSkiwhc 2017 sp Mokhova/Mokhov

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG6GRSuwtaY 2017 fp Mokhova/Mokhov

For me, these two are not very well physically matched due to the height difference and the age difference. As siblings, they do demonstrate unison and synchronicity, but it's still difficult to determine how they might ultimately fare going forward. If they are both passionate and dedicated, possibly they can overcome the disadvantage of not being able to compete juniors internationally. Also, hopefully Mokhova may grow taller and gain a bit more maturity while they wait for her to become age-eligible for seniors.
 

PairSkater12345

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The NHK Trophy field is really stacked with Sui/Han, James/Cipres and a slew of other strong pairs. A tough break to have two US pairs in that field.

It's not that it's impossible to do well in that field-- the Knierims did win a medal in a strong NHK field last season-- but a GP event isn't supposed to feel like Worlds, and it's a dramatically stronger field than some of the other GPs.

If only the ISU would divvy up the GP assignments themselves and keep the playing fields as even as possible instead of leaving a lot of it in the hands of the host countries. It creates lopsidedness.

But all the skaters can do is the best they can regardless of the fields, and I'm sure there's great appeal in competing in Japan with huge audiences. It's not a bad thing for pairs to be tested against stronger competition more often either.
Candidly I don't see it as a tough break. If want to grow pairs in the US our competitive teams have to skate against the best.
 

Princessroja

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Thanks, Sylvia! I had totally missed that info and I'm really glad you linked it.

Aftershocks:

Not yet, no, but they get more and more so every year. The first year I watched them at nationals (what you linked), it was almost comical how mismatched they were. I mean, she was only 10. Every year that gap has closed, and I expect that to happen more over the next few years as she continues to grow. She's improved a ton as a skater over the last three years too. I see the lack of international experience as a far greater disadvantage right now, as they are basically stuck for a few more years. I can't imagine how demoralizing that must be!


(sorry, broke the quote somehow! hopefully you both still see my response)
 
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natsulian

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Raf always claims it takes 2 years to make a difference with a skater.
A claim which he’s backed up with the results. Some may take a little less or more than 2 years, but Raf is a technician and he’s probably one of the best in the world.
 

happycamper2554

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Keyton Bearinger 2019 U.S. Novice Champion with Isabelle Goldstein listed on IPS as of today. They are also still listed on ISP as this moment.
 

aftershocks

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Cross-posting from Chinese skating thread:

The new Chelsea (Jiaxi) Liu, with partner Zhong Xie. :) They look good together, and Hongbo Zhou looks happy at rinkside. I must say the opening moves, music selection, choreo and skating style are a direct emulation of James/Cipres. But imitation is the highest form of flattery (not only being practiced by this new pair either). Not that James/Cipres tend to get much credit for leading the pairs division in pure excitement and excellence over the past several seasons. ;)

It will certainly take Liu/Xie a bit of time to develop their own version of J/C's chemistry, connection and excitement though.
 

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