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

Sylvia

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Nick McCarvel is covering Skate Canada International for TeamUSA.org and chatted with Alexa & Chris Knierim yesterday after practice:

After the SP today, the Knierims are in 4th (71.28) and Calalang/Johnson are 6th (62.54), both of which are ISU SB scores.
 

olympic

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Funny. I was following the scores on ISU results SC page and just before the scores for SK/K came up, I thought to myself 'Nothing big. Please get a SB'. and they did. I've learned to temper my expectations for US pairs.

I'm not sure why the problems (small as they may be) w/ the SBS spins. Is it because they are trying new spin positions? Because they got quite out of synch.

C/J are faves. I really hope they get to a point where they land the SBS jumps.
 

olympic

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Mixed feelings- It looks like Knierims were a little better on the SBS jumps but a little less so on the throws. They were predicted to be about 4th in this field and they were

C/J got another PB but wow where they would be if they hit the landings
 

love skating

Clueless American
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I know you can't compare scores from different events but the Knierims despite not medaling here did have a higher point total than the three American teams at Skate America. Hopefully it's a step in the right direction.

I really like all the American teams, but sure wish they could find some consistency and I wouldn't have to be a bundle of nerves every time I watch an American pair skate!
 

AxelAnnie

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New article on the Knierims:
That article was kind of yucky, and frightening. A sugar rush just reading it. Working with that many people has hazards. It can give you help, but can also have confusing and contradictory advice. And then, there can be searching for opinions you like rather than the ones you need.

They did land the jumps though!
 

clairecloutier

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The Knierims are skating overall much better this season than last year. So it would seem that they're doing something right in their training. :D With so many great coaches at their rink, why not try to take advantage of all that expertise? It's not dissimilar to the team-coaching approach at Gadbois.
 
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overedge

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The Knierims are skating overall much better this season than last year. So it would seem that they're doing something right in their training. :D With so many great coaches at their rink, why not try to take advantage of all that expertise? It's not dissimilar to the team-coaching approach at Gadbois.
This. And if a skater receives contradictory advice, especially an older experienced skater, there is nothing stopping them from saying "Coach X suggested this other way, how does that fit with what you're suggesting for me?"
 

AngieNikodinovLove

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New article on the Knierims:
I thought the article was great. Heck, ID LOVE .. and is to work with all those legends. If Natlia Mishkutenok was there too, Id bring her into my circle as well.
 

aftershocks

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The Knierim article sounds very positive overall. My takeaways are: they are still cordial and communicative with Aliona and her husband, Liam Cross; they took to being coached by Meno/Sand right away -- as married couples who competed together they all four connect in ways the Knierims haven't previously experienced with other coaches; they have a very supportive group of coaches and supplemental resources available to them at their new training camp; they love skating and competing; they are working hard on improving their sbs jumps, and must also focus on keeping up to snuff in all areas of their skating.

Apparently, being consistently successful with sbs jumps is not as simple as drilling the jumps every day. I'm hoping that something will kick in sooner rather than later for both the Knierims and Calalang/Johnson regarding the jumps. There must be something psychological as well as habit-forming that has to be dealt with and cured. For all pairs, the fact of needing to jump synchronously must be a part of the issue that we as fans may tend to feel is an easier fix than it actually is. I'm just trying to understand the dynamics of it all. Fans constantly harping and being disappointed surely isn't helpful. But with the jumps being the major drawback that loses them points, while everything else is such quality, it's really hard to figure out. I wish someone would write an article about the whole process of learning how to jump together, which has to be different than mastering jumping as a singles skater.

What Chris says here might be debatable, but I guess it reveals the lengths athletes will go to pursue their passion:
“'We had this really cool flip into our short program lift, and it put strain on his wrist to push me up for the press,' Scimeca Knierim said. 'Over time, he damaged it. But we just kept doing it anyway, because it was cool.' Her husband added what might be a motto for all pair skaters. 'If it’s cool, you gotta keep doing it, even if it hurts,' he said."

Later in the article, I'm curious what is meant by Mozer "periodizing our skaters a little differently..."
 

olympic

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I liked the article and the specifics re jump training w/ RA: So, they train w/ him twice weekly? I really hope it leads somewhere better in what will probably be there last Olympic cycle
 
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Sylvia

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I checked and this Cain-Gribble/LeDuc article wasn't posted here before Skate America:

Excerpt:
The skaters also targeted another element: their lifts. To add difficulty (and points), LeDuc is lifting and holding aloft his partner with one arm, while Cain-Gribble’s arms remain free.
“That’s the biggest difference you’ll see this year, I think,” Cain-Gribble said at Champs Camp. “Pretty much all of our lifts are one point of contact, so I’m not holding on (to LeDuc) at all.”
“I think that when we teamed up, it was one of the things people saw as our weakness,” she added. “The thought was with my height, we wouldn’t be able to do all these intricate positions, or do the one point of contact, but we’ve made our bodies strong enough to be able to do that.”
Mozer acknowledges helping the pair with their lifts, but refuses to share too many particulars.
“It’s the secrets of the coaching staff,” she said, laughing. “We knew the problems of the (lifts) and we understood what to do, and now they have no problems. They changed some things. Timothy did a lot of work to make this element better and better.”
ETA:
Later in the article, I'm curious what is meant by Mozer "periodizing our skaters a little differently..."
 
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Sylvia

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Excerpt:
As Cain-Gribble and LeDuc look toward Internationaux de France, they do not expect to make any changes in their programs or technical elements. Instead, they will focus on improving their technical levels--and their mental game.
...
"We're continuing to work on our mental toughness," LeDuc added. "We're just going to try to get back to that cool, confident place where we know we can do our stuff."
...
"We welcome the opportunity to learn and grow, to learn how to stay relaxed and do our technique, in spite of any outside pressure," LeDuc said. "And hopefully, next time we will be able to translate our training to competition."
 
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Sylvia

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I got to say I really think they have the best SBS spin in the business. Check it out.
One of my better practice clips at Skate America was of Cain-Gribble/LeDuc's side by side spin:
 

olympic

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Wow. They need to recalibrate that Throw 3Z, though. It’s holding them back from greater things
 

semogal

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Congrats to Haven and Brandon for medaling at their second grand prix this season! The Lion King FD gives me chills at the end every time. So happy to see their hard work is paying off!
 

olympic

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US pairs just got much more interesting, not only because we have multiple pairs that internationally are in the conversation now, but D/F just added themselves as an obstacle to front-runners SK/K and CG/L in claiming those 2 spots for Worlds

ETA - It will be fascinating if this situation has a trickle down effect on pairs yet to compete like K/O at CoC, pushing them harder. They reached 190 points by GS last year. They have it in them to also throw themselves in to the mix, and C/J if clean go much higher
 
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Spiralgraph

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I agree Olympic. It's much better that our pairs have to fight off each other at GP's and at Nationals than just one or two pairs be presumed to be the best top two no matter how they perform. Bring on next week to see what happens next. :)
 

pairskatingfan

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All very interesting that C-G/L again ended up behind D/F, despite a decent skate from Ashley and Tim. I am surprised that Haven and Brandon do not get higher PCS than Ashley and Tim; they are strong skaters whom skate as a unit more than Ashley and Tim, despite the stronger individual skills of Ashley and Tim.
 

insideedgeua

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Couldn’t agree more. Ashley and Tim are definitely strong, but to me there’s still something about them that makes me see them as two strong individuals rather than a team.

I feel like she’s always racing off with barely a glance at him.
 

aftershocks

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Wow. They need to recalibrate that Throw 3Z, though. It’s holding them back from greater things
It seems partly mental, although the set-up of how they move into it can also be a factor that might be tweaked. Ash previously hasn't had many issues with falling on the throws aside from a few times here and there, particularly in the beginning of their partnership. She has seemed to tough out landing even if with leaning a bit forward. I remember once at 2018 4CCs Ash flew high on a throw and landed it quite spectacularly. It's better to at least land even with leaning a bit forward, rather than falling.

It seems to me that Ash's boot has buckled the times when she fell in the recent GP sps. The fall on the fp throw at SA was probably more due to Ash still thinking about the error in the sp. So, shore up equipment, rule out problems with the ice surface, tweak set-up into throw jumps if necessary, calm nerves and continue pushing forward.

Although these 4th place finishes are missed opportunities, they are also learning experiences. No one's career is a straight path forward. I still think Ash/Timothy are probably the most well-rounded U.S. pair, while the Knierims have the most explosive elements and a new stylish sophistication to their skating. But the Knierims still need to continue amping up their confidence. And of course, all of the U.S. top pairs need to work on landing their jumps. C-G/L are the most solid on the sbs jumps.
 

aftershocks

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It's great for Haven/Brandon to grab two bronzes on the GP. Arguably, they should have won silver twice over the same team. It's losing points on the jumps is where they have to shore up. And they need to change the judges' perceptions too, which is beginning to happen. By becoming more consistent, it will add to the impact of their overall great elements on everything else, and their excellent programs.

We shall see what happens for Tarah/Danny this coming weekend at Cup of China and later at NHK. Maybe anywhere from 4th, 5th, or 6th is possible for them at CoC. Probably 6th is more realistic unless other teams make mistakes. At NHK, T&D will be up against the Knierims, and again against Sui/Han, Efimova/ Korovin, and Della-Monica/Guarise, but also M-T/M and Mishina/ Galliamov are competing in Japan, so that makes NHK perhaps a bit deeper than CoC.

The Knierims will need to push aside either M-T/M or Mishina/Galliamov to get on the NHK podium. If the Knierims get another 4th place, it will be interesting if T&D manage two fifth places or 5th/6th, or even 4th/6th or 4th/5th. I can't see T&D breaking through for podium contention in the fields they are up against. That would mean H&B coming into Nationals with the better GP record for top U.S. pairs, which is supposed to bear weight in the World team selection process.

ETA:
Last season, T&D won the silver at GP France and at Tallinn Trophy. But I'm not sure they are as confident or well-armed program-wise this season. Their triple twist needs to continue improving, as well as speed and Tarah's SS. Otherwise, they have been competitive and can't be counted out. On paper, it has appeared to be the Knerims and Ash/Timothy for Worlds. And yet, if H&B perform great at U.S. Nationals, they could get the nod over the Knierims or A&T, depending upon Nationals results.
 
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Sylvia

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A Tarah Kayne & Danny O'Shea photo project by Aaron Anderson:






Danny shared another photo that's not included in the links above:

Behind the scenes video of their photo shoot, off and on ice, filmed by Skylar Ogren:
 
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aftershocks

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^^ This is a cool project by the photographer Aaron Anderson in collaboration with Tarah/Danny. I like this photo the most:
This project is a great promotional tool for the skaters and the photographer, as well as a wonderful opportunity to highlight in an artistic, contemplative way the fact that figure skating is not the fun glamour we appear to see on the ice simply because skaters' jobs are to make what is exceedingly hard look easy. Partnering is not easy either, so the partner relationships that go the distance are always fascinating to learn more about.

The sport itself doesn't do a great job of promoting their skaters in outside-the-box ways, so every effort that takes a unique approach is needed and welcome. Tarah & Danny have always been gritty and competitive. It will be interesting to see the fight from all our top teams. They all need to continue pushing each other so they can win three spots for Worlds and Olympics! It would be so cool too if Tarah could improve her SS, because that's an area where improvement could help their career reach a higher level.

This comment from the first Instagram post by Anderson is apropos:
"I hope this project can be a reminder that we’re all going through hard stuff, even if we don’t show it on Social Media. So be kind and enjoy the journey!"

This is quite true. Life isn't easy for anyone.
 
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Theoreticalgirl

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Looks like Ashley and Timothy (along with Rohene Ward) are scheduled to perform in NYC on 12/10-11 at the Rink at Brookfield Place:


This is an annual event put on by Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov featuring a variety of live performers and musicians—and it's a lot of fun.
 

Sylvia

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Thanks for the heads up, @Theoreticalgirl! I'll start a GSD thread (like I did last year) with your info as well as the Bryant Park tree lighting event/show info (Thursday, December 5) soon.

Article before Tarah/Danny's GP debut in Chongqing:
 

olympic

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It looks like K/O got thru their SP in a workmanlike way at CoC. Still bedeviled by the Twist though, and it seems like they had a hiccup on the SBS spins. Glad to see the risky elements like the throw and SBS jumps went well. I hope they bring it in the LP because all of SK/K, CG/L and D/F are moving ahead of them on the domestic front and C/J are not far behind them even with big mistakes. They will have to fight for 4CC assignments. Now is the time to really dig deep and do it as US pairs (thankfully) get more competitive
 

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