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

essence_of_soy

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Given how the pairs' scoring at Skate America panned out, if Ashley & Tim had skated a clean event, it's very likely they could have won. It must be frustrating when you are trained and ready, only to become unstuck for wanting it too much, and concentrating on that aspect instead of the performances.
 
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Seerek

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With everyone so up-and-down, it's tough to get feelers as to who international judges would go for if all the teams skated clean.

My best guess: 1. Ashley/Tim 2. Alexa/Chris 3. Haven/Brandon 4. Jessica/Brian
 

aftershocks

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Yep @essence_of_soy, that's what it seems like happened to Ash/Timothy. It's a new feeling I suppose to go in with a real chance to win, instead of just being in the mindset of battling for the podium, like they did last year. This season there are a lot more expectations to manage, both internally and externally. The turnaround between programs at SA is also tough, so that's another factor. Fortunately, A&T seem positively focused and on an even keel in the immediate aftermath of SA results. That has been what they're known for -- staying focused and upbeat. So too much overanalysis may not be the best approach, which as a fan I have a tendency to do. :shuffle: As do we all at times. ;) Probably champion athletes take away only what they need, and try to let go of any thinking or external chatter that's unproductive.

Only A&T know what they were feeling in the moments they experienced, but also sometimes when competing, athletes may feel prepared but then suddenly become unfocused and everything is a blur and happening too fast. Possibly, a form of that is what happened to James/Cipres at 2019 Worlds in the sp. J/C's coach, Silvia Fontana recently said how solidly prepared J/C were going into that competition. Maybe the two month competition layoff after Euros made them not as mentally prepared, despite the physical preparation. Also, e.g., Keegan Messing gave so much in his SA sp, and it was so emotional on a number of levels (having just gotten married recently his sp was a tribute to his wife, and now it's also a tribute to his younger brother, who passed away in that tragic accident a few weeks ago). Keegan's sp was a huge triumph with a standing ovation, and everyone cheering Keegan on for his courage during such a difficult time. Conversely, coming off the ice after the fp, Keegan told his coach he'd felt jittery and not in control, so the overabundance of emotions had understandably caught up with him. A fp is a lot harder to get through at times of swirling emotions.

Of course, Keegan's situation is quite different from A&T's, but I'm always amazed by the ability of athletes to live their lives and go through life's ups-and-downs and still be prepared to perform amazing feats on the ice, in what I think is the most difficult sport in the world. Jason Brown would be another great example at SA this season after the concussion he suffered in August. :respec: Haven is another example of great determination and courage, with her partner Brandon solidly backing her up every step of the way. Josh & Jessica are great examples of dedication and perseverance through injuries and setbacks, as are Tarah & Danny. Alexa is another great example of a nearly impossible comeback story, with her husband and partner Chris by her side as her rock and her lifeline. Coming back to figure skating after the life-threatening crisis the Knierims went through took courage that only they together can understand. Sometimes, there are no words. I thank all of our amazing U.S. pairs teams and all skating athletes for telling us their stories through the journeys they are building on the ice.

Figure skaters deserve so much credit and support for all they strive for, accomplish, and ultimately give to so many fans in the process. ❤
 

RoseRed

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With everyone so up-and-down, it's tough to get feelers as to who international judges would go for if all the teams skated clean.

My best guess: 1. Ashley/Tim 2. Alexa/Chris 3. Haven/Brandon 4. Jessica/Brian
I think if they actually skated clean (w/ sbs triples), Alexa and Chris would definitely be above Ashley and Tim. They have a better twist, better throws and better lifts (GOE-wise) and generally good pair elements. Now, I think Ashley and Tim are probably more likely to skate clean than the Knierims, so there's that.
 

aftershocks

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With everyone so up-and-down, it's tough to get feelers as to who international judges would go for if all the teams skated clean.

My best guess: 1. Ashley/Tim 2. Alexa/Chris 3. Haven/Brandon 4. Jessica/Brian
Every one of these teams have high quality and possess excellent programs this season. We have to factor in rep level with international judges, the amount of experience each team have together, combined with recent results. And in that respect, how you have listed them is probably the case. Tarah/Danny should never be counted out competitively. But they apparently are adjusting to their new coaching environment, and possibly Tarah is still undergoing injury rehab to stay fit.

Coming back from injury is a long-term battle. This reality was brought home to me when Tara & Johnny mentioned that Peng has a current ongoing injury issue and that she's constantly in pain while skating. That might be adding to P/J's ongoing inconsistency, and that is why they did a planned sbs double rather than a sbs triple (also reminiscent of Haven/Brandon's struggles on sbs jumps post her knee surgery and rehab).

It's definitely obvious that an in-form and steady Ash/Timothy could have won SA, as they would have been in first place after the sp, if not for the fluke fall. It may have been difficult for them both to process that result in such a quick turnaround, even despite being close enough to pull out a victory by skating strong in the fp (which was within their power). The young Russian team P/K are solid technically, but they are still young and inexperienced. Plus, as usual, solid technique and Russian pairs prestige gives these young Russian teams more PCS than they deserve in some categories.

Further in regard to Tarah/Danny, Tarah must focus on her skating skills which would help in improving their overall speed. And upgrading their 3-twist is still a work-in-progress. The improvements T&D need will be crucial, especially with a quality team like Calalang/Johnson on the rise, who excel across-the-board with speed, SS, charismatic connection, cool choreo, presence on the ice, and top-notch elements. C/J's main things to work on are sbs jump consistency and gaining experience together. I guess everything comes together in its own time, but isn't it amazing that Brian & Jessica were training together all this time in the Meno/Sand camp and no one realized until their respective partner splits that they would be so compatible together as a team! They are truly lovely together.

The biggest takeaway should be that U.S. teams are showing they are a force to be reckoned with and that they deserve to be given a lot of credit, particularly when they perform well. I say that because in the past our teams have performed well and not been given enough credit due to political factors and lack of hefty U.S. pairs rep. Of course, U.S. teams all still have areas to work on, but so do every pairs team. This season in particular is an important transitional time of jockeying for position nationally and internationally. I think it's also a fact that politically, the way ISU judges look at teams from event-to-event is not always fair. For the most part, I would say based on performances, most of the judging has been fair so far this season. Still, there's always the political factor, and the unfairness of how PCS is not accurately assessed but meted out in a range, often based on politics or level of tech expertise.
 
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aftershocks

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I think if they actually skated clean (w/ sbs triples), Alexa and Chris would definitely be above Ashley and Tim. They have a better twist, better throws and better lifts (GOE-wise) and generally good pair elements. Now, I think Ashley and Tim are probably more likely to skate clean than the Knierims, so there's that.
Yep, we shall see what happens at Skate Canada this weekend. Alexa & Chris have solid programs. I hope they can shrug off hefty expectations and skate with a lighthearted sense of ease and confidence. It's a stacked field, but they do have great elements and should be given credit with good performances.

As far as who will rise above at 2020 U.S. Nationals, while what happens on the rest of the GP will definitely factor in, nothing is a given. From 1-5 pairs placements at 2019 U.S. Nats, there's top-level quality, with the top three teams having a leg-up going into this new season internationally. There's not a huge amount that separates the top five, let alone the top three. The good thing is that they will all continue pushing each other to excel! :encore:
 

essence_of_soy

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I think if they actually skated clean (w/ sbs triples), Alexa and Chris would definitely be above Ashley and Tim. They have a better twist, better throws and better lifts (GOE-wise) and generally good pair elements. Now, I think Ashley and Tim are probably more likely to skate clean than the Knierims, so there's that.
Here's hoping Ash & Tim can take this experience from Skate America, regroup and rebuild. We are so lucky to have such a good team like them skating for us.
 

kwanfan1818

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One of the commentators mentioned that Leduc has tendonitis, but didn't say whether/how it impacted their training in the last couple of weeks.
 

aftershocks

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I think if they actually skated clean (w/ sbs triples), Alexa and Chris would definitely be above Ashley and Tim. They have a better twist, better throws and better lifts (GOE-wise) and generally good pair elements. Now, I think Ashley and Tim are probably more likely to skate clean than the Knierims, so there's that.
^^ True, but don't discount how Ash/Timothy have improved their speed, smoothness and overall precision even since Worlds 2019. Continuing to improve in every aspect and learning how to be steady performers is probably the key to success for pairs teams. And then having boffo weapons to enhance overall quality and consistency, can seal the deal.

Mostly what we see in pairs is how hard it is to have everything working on all cylinders at all times. The Russians often seem to have great technical expertise combined with Russian prestige. But in general, T/M especially and some of the younger teams lack personality, connection and charismatic presence on the ice. In general, many of the U.S. teams and international teams like James/Cipres and Sui/Han have personality plus!

Peng/Jin have a lot of personality, but to me they have struggled quite often with consistency, even despite benefiting from Sui/Han and Yu/Zhang being largely off the competitive scene the past few seasons. P/J do have quality elements but apparently with Peng now struggling with some physical ailments they are still not putting everything together cleanly. So the SA outcome really turned out disappointing in the fp, aside from the performances by Haven/Brandon and Calalang/Johnson.


I have also taken the above conversation to the Pairs general thread in Trash Can...
 
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aftershocks

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One of the commentators mentioned that Leduc has tendonitis, but didn't say whether/how it impacted their training in the last couple of weeks.
Yep, but skaters never use physical excuses to explain away performance outcomes. Many figure skaters perform with pain on a regular basis. They just have to be wise with weighing in with doctors, physical therapists, etc and using their best judgment always. It's amazing what figure skating athletes go through on a regular basis in pursuit of their desire to compete and to win.
 

olympic

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Regarding CG/L, I am flummoxed that a top ranked US singles gal on the Senior level at one point this decade struggles so much with a 3L, something she used to tack on to the back of a 3Z at her best. I wonder if the 3T would work better

Regarding the Knierims and C/J, maybe they should revert back to the 2A and go for clean performances. I don’t remember the last time the Knierims had both sets of SBS jumps in a LP clean. It seems more miss than hit.

K/O usually had a good ratio in the SBS jumps when they were doing 2A sequence and solo 3S. They struggle a bit with 2 sets of triples, but it’s not necessarily hopeless.
 

AxelAnnie

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Regarding CG/L, I am flummoxed that a top ranked US singles gal on the Senior level at one point this decade struggles so much with a 3L, something she used to tack on to the back of a 3Z at her best. I wonder if the 3T would work better

Regarding the Knierims and C/J, maybe they should revert back to the 2A and go for clean performances. I don’t remember the last time the Knierims had both sets of SBS jumps in a LP clean. It seems more miss than hit.

K/O usually had a good ratio in the SBS jumps when they were doing 2A sequence and solo 3S. They struggle a bit with 2 sets of triples, but it’s not necessarily hopeless.
You are singing my song! Learn the jumps! Land them consistently. IMO as long as they can win without them.......why bother?
 

Spun Silver

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Ashley as a singles skater struggled with jumps. At her best she was fabulous, but she was only rarely at her best. There's a reason she's no longer in singles.
 

Dobre

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She's been pretty good with the jumps. The throw has been an issue recently, and that's fairly common with ladies switching over from singles. Anyway, C&LD can do the elements. What they do not have is the experience of leading the field. It's a different kind of pressure and a different challenge. It is something that comes with time and with knowing that you have earned your place and can handle the situation--that when you muck up it is a step along the road. (AKA, keep your mind on the game after a mistake and stay in it).
 

kris2ffer

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Boy, taking a deep breath (the season is just beginning). I hope Ashley & Timothy can regroup. Before their fp, I wasn't thinking about them winning, just skating solidly like they can. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience for them dealing with mental pressure going forward, i.e, knowing it's possible to win and dealing with the pressure of skating in your home country with a chance to win, and being mentally prepared to deal with any unexpected setbacks on the fly. There definitely was an outside chance for A&T to win even after the fluke fall in the sp. It was important to stay within themselves and do what they could do, but perhaps it was a new kind of pressure they were feeling?
It is definitely the pressure.

Let us not pretend that we were not surprise including them of the up shot and backing (a well deserved) they are getting right now. That instant pressure definitely played to it.

It is bound that US will back someone for that No. 1 spot but a lot are expecting it was going to be the Knierims(again) but Im happy Ahley/Tim got it because honestly they have the goods.

I mean Nina Mozer (supposedly semi-retired) came out with them even if she is just their consultant this season because she knows Ashley/Tim needs all the guidance since they are on a new territory.

I think once they get used to this new territory, they'll be fine.
 
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olympic

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@Spun Silver and @Dobre make good points. I just remember that one year Ash won Nebelhorn and I remember how big her 3Z was. I know that as a singles skater she never was completely solid as a competitor, but I would think that a triple in the SP and two sets of easier triples in the LP would be manageable. I realize that the idea may have crept into their heads at SA that they had a shot of winning and making it to the GPF which would've been a big step forward for them and all US pairs. Quite a burden.

I alluded to it above and regarding all US pairs, I just feel that their is a point in time, after years of trying, where if you are not anywhere near consistent w/ triples, revert back to the 2A, and perhaps save points / limit the damage and avoid deductions. I don't know if it was the Chinese pair Y/Z or P/J a couple of years ago who had the 2A as their jumping pass, then they would run up points on the other elements. I think our top pairs could do that because the GOOD NEWS is that our top pairs are really developing good SS as a whole, getting higher marks on lifts, better twists, etc. and can better survive just a 2A
 

Dobre

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@Spun Silver and @Dobre make good points. I just remember that one year Ash won Nebelhorn and I remember how big her 3Z was. I know that as a singles skater she never was completely solid as a competitor, but I would think that a triple in the SP and two sets of easier triples in the LP would be manageable.
I think the commentator said that Tim has been dealing with pain so they had backed off of a jump they usually shoot for.
 

RoseRed

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I think the commentator said that Tim has been dealing with pain so they had backed off of a jump they usually shoot for.
What jump?? They tried the same sbs jumps they always do. Going by the skating corse site, they tried 3Fs a couple of times and other than that have been doing 3S and 3Lo their whole time together.
 

Cleo1782

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What jump?? They tried the same sbs jumps they always do. Going by the skating corse site, they tried 3Fs a couple of times and other than that have been doing 3S and 3Lo their whole time together.
In the SP Tara or Johnny mentioned they took out the 3lo and went with the 3s instead which I think is a smart move period to keep in the future.


I know people say maybe they should take out the sbs jumps for something easier but I think the 3s and 3l are Ashley's two best triples. I don't think she ever has done a toe with Josh or Tim and I remember it being iffy for her as a singles skater. She always excelled with edge jumps even when she was concentrating solely on singles. I think her 2a is pretty good, but I don't think they should go back to that. They can do the loop it was just an off day.
 

aftershocks

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Regarding CG/L, I am flummoxed that a top ranked US singles gal on the Senior level at one point this decade struggles so much with a 3L, something she used to tack on to the back of a 3Z at her best. I wonder if the 3T would work better
Maybe you are just pointing this out for conversational purposes, but I think the main takeaway is, neither you nor I are champion pairs figure skating athletes, so we have no direct experience. We are armchair observers. ;) Perhaps Ashley and her coaches could explain why you shouldn't be so flummoxed. :p Off the top of my head, I would say that the 3-loop is an extremely difficult jump in figure skating, which some athletes find harder to master than others, since it's an edge jump that requires a great deal of precision, timing and rhythm on takeoff.

I believe that the 3-loop has been a fairly consistent jump for both Ashley & Timothy ever since they competed in singles, and that's why they perform them as pairs partners. Not a lot of pairs skaters have 3-loops in their arsenal. But simply having mastered 3-loops as single competitors doesn't make 3-loops easy jumps to accomplish perfectly every time out. Not even tennis players are perfect every time with their shot-making technique. As with any sport, so many physical and mental variables are involved, not to mention equipment and ice surface variances.

My impression is that simply having been able to land a 3-loop more cleanly as a singles competitor does not mean that consistency can automatically be transferred to pairs skating, which is a completely different discipline on so many levels. There are pyschological and physical factors that will surely vary. For e.g., both male and female pairs skaters (but especially males) have to bulk up a bit to complete the extraordinary athletic feats we see in pairs skating. Therefore, if muscle mass is different, that is surely going to affect jump technique. Also as a pairs skater, you have to jump in sync with your partner which affects timing and rhythm, as well as mental focus.

ETA:
I had posted my above response prior to noticing that @Cleo1782 already addressed your comment olympic. I remember the commentators saying that Ash/Timothy had replaced their sbs 3-loops with 3-sals, but I forgot that it was in the sp where they took out the 3-loops. In the fp, Ash was surely still recovering from having fallen on the same throw as in the sp, because she was probably thinking too much about not falling again. If you are thinking about not falling, guess what's bound to happen...

Ash was apparently struggling to re-focus when the sbs 3-loops had to be completed in the fp. It's always difficult after making a mistake, to put it aside and quickly regroup. I hope a pairs team will one day write a book about what happens in their heads during a perfect program vs what happens in their heads during an out-of-control, unraveling performance. At 2019 U.S. Nats (which seems ages ago), Ash & Timothy skated last, and they calmly and confidently were able to take each element in stride with muscle memory taking over, which put them in-the-zone. Trying to recreate such calm and confidence every time out is part of what makes figure skating so difficult. To reach for perfection is why figure skaters train their programs day-in and day-out.
 
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aftershocks

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@Spun Silver and @Dobre make good points. I just remember that one year Ash won Nebelhorn and I remember how big her 3Z was. I know that as a singles skater she never was completely solid as a competitor, but I would think that a triple in the SP and two sets of easier triples in the LP would be manageable. I realize that the idea may have crept into their heads at SA that they had a shot of winning and making it to the GPF which would've been a big step forward for them and all US pairs. Quite a burden.

I alluded to it above and regarding all US pairs, I just feel that their is a point in time, after years of trying, where if you are not anywhere near consistent w/ triples, revert back to the 2A, and perhaps save points / limit the damage and avoid deductions. I don't know if it was the Chinese pair Y/Z or P/J a couple of years ago who had the 2A as their jumping pass, then they would run up points on the other elements. I think our top pairs could do that because the GOOD NEWS is that our top pairs are really developing good SS as a whole, getting higher marks on lifts, better twists, etc. and can better survive just a 2A
I doubt they would even contemplate returning to a 2-axel. Cleo1782 has already explained why not. It's not necessary. Skaters strategize with their coaches, and then they skate. They are not going to make too many abrupt changes during the season, unless necessary. And they certainly aren't going to make desperate, defeatist changes. Ash/Timothy's program layout was already planned during the off-season and they beat T/M and P/J, et al with it at the pre-season International Classic Challenger event.

Momentum can change on a dime from event-to-event. As fans, we've seen everything under the sun happen in figure skating. Read Push Dick's Button and gain a deeper understanding of the confounding, inexplicable conundrum that is figure skating. As Dick would ask, Is there a finizzle in that shinizzle? :p As Dick has always said, "Everyone has to go through a disastrous performance."

Who knows why when Ash landed her throw jump in the sp, it didn't land solidly on her blade, which caused her boot to buckle at an angle, which led to the fall? It happens. It was a fluke. A rut in the ice, something slightly off in the air, the boot slightly loose, who knows? It was unexpected, they were disappointed, and despite still being in position to win, it was hard to regroup for the fp with the expectations they both felt internally and externally. The 3-loop was popped in the fp because of the fall on the throw which was caused by over-thinking what had happened on the same throw jump in the sp. After the fall in the fp, Ash was unable to quickly put it aside and not make anymore mistakes (which might have salvaged a podium position for them). Now, they know how that situation feels, and they have hopefully learned invaluable lessons going forward.
 

aftershocks

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I don't think this fs fanzone article on Calalang/Johnson was posted here yet:


They said it was a struggle in the beginning for them to re-work timing on their throws having been with their previous partners for so long, and it's always a difficult adjustment with a new partner. That's interesting because they seem to have come together so well, but perhaps that explains the carefulness with which they move into throws. As a new team, they are still working it all out together. Their 3-twist is great! They didn't discuss having to make any adjustments there. They are also appreciative of the great feedback they received at Nationals from fans and the judges, because they didn't go in having any expectations. Placing 5th was better than they'd each done with their previous partners. It validated the good feeling they have skating together.

I'd like to see their SA gala performance, but I don't know where to find it. Is it available on fanzone?
 

aftershocks

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^^ As I mentioned earlier, K/O obviously are competitive and can't be counted out. But Tarah is probably still re-habbing, and they are also adjusting to a new training environment. Plus, Tarah needs to work on her SS which would help them as a team increase their speed and power. K/O's 3-twist is also still a work-in-progress. Other quality U.S. teams have surpassed or are nipping at their heels, especially Denney/Frazier and Calalang/Johnson who have competitive programs and comparatively better weapons than K/O, aside from consistent sbs jumps.
 

happycamper2554

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^^ As I mentioned earlier, K/O obviously are competitive and can't be counted out. But Tarah is probably still re-habbing, and they are also adjusting to a new training environment. Plus, Tarah needs to work on her SS which would help them as a team increase their speed and power. K/O's 3-twist is also still a work-in-progress. Other quality U.S. teams have surpassed or are nipping at their heels, especially Denney/Frazier and Calalang/Johnson who have competitive programs and comparatively better weapons than K/O, aside from consistent sbs jumps.
Tarah and danny have a gift for being clean at nationals when noone else is. I wouldnt count them out yet.
 

aftershocks

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Tarah and danny have a gift for being clean at nationals when noone else is. I wouldnt count them out yet.
Yep, just as I said. And so, you agree with me K/O can't be counted out because they can be competitive when they go clean, despite lacking great speed which is hampered by Tarah needing to improve her SS. Plus, K/O are still working on improving their 3-twist. They really need to get another fp with the kind of impact they had with Swan Lake (before the 2019 Nationals fluke botched-lift disaster).

I say that because D/F and C/J aren't messing around with great program impact this season. :watch: All D/F and C/J need (and granted it's a tall order) are confidence and consistency on their sbs jumps. And as with every team, continued overall growth and rep-building experience. Of course, A&T and the Knierims are currently top U.S. favorites, albeit anything can and usually does happen at U.S. Nationals. But let's keep in mind that what happens during the season factors into World team selection.
 

PairSkater12345

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Yep, just as I said. And so, you agree with me K/O can't be counted out because they can be competitive when they go clean, despite lacking great speed which is hampered by Tarah needing to improve her SS. Plus, K/O are still working on improving their 3-twist. They really need to get another fp with the kind of impact they had with Swan Lake (before the 2019 Nationals fluke botched-lift disaster).

I say that because D/F and C/J aren't messing around with great program impact this season. :watch: All D/F and C/J need (and granted it's a tall order) are confidence and consistency on their sbs jumps. And as with every team, continued overall growth and rep-building experience. Of course, A&T and the Knierims are currently top U.S. favorites, albeit anything can and usually does happen at U.S. Nationals. But let's keep in mind that what happens during the season factors into World team selection.
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aftershocks

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Clip of Calalang/Johnson's SP practice run through (throw 3Lz to BI edge catch foot death spiral): https://www.instagram.com/p/B3-8fyapths/
That's a nice practice clip by OIP that demonstrates the call and response needed to try and sync sbs spins. It's probably difficult during programs with the music playing and the audience in the arena to always hear the designated partner calling out the spin change cues.
 

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