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Denney and Barrett Pull Off Major Upset

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett placed first in the free skate program and overall to claim their first U.S. pairs title today at the 2010 U.S. Championships. They also punched their ticket to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

"I thought it went awesome tonight. It was one of our best free programs we have ever done. I had a great time, it went by very quickly and felt so easy,” Denney said.

The overnight leaders, Denney and Barrett cruised to victory with an overall mark of 190.30. Skating to "Scheherazade" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, their program was full of energy and precision. They landed side-by-side triple toe loops and hit a double Axel-double Axel sequence. They also nailed a beautiful triple Lutz twist lift, and a throw triple loop. All three of their lifts were impressive and each of their spins earned a Level 4.

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig placed second and clinched the second U.S. spot for pairs for the Olympic Games. Evora and Ladwig chalked up 173.78 points for the competition.

The highlight of their program was a solid rotational lift done with ease. They hit a nice triple Lutz twist to open their program, followed by a slightly flawed triple toe-double toe jump combo. Their throw triple Lutz was a bit shaky but their spins were strong (Level 4) and their other lifts were impressive as was their backward outside death spiral.

Both teams are based in Florida and are coached by Jim Peterson along with Alison Smith and Lyndon Johnston. Off the ice, Evora and Barrett are a couple.

A lot of emotion flowed at the event for top two teams. Petersen wept at the boards as Denney and Barrett finished their program. Evora sobbed backstage after she and Ladwig completed their program. It was all smiles though when the Evora received a text message on her phone which she held up to the NBC camera. The message indicated she and Ladwig had been selected to the U.S. Olympic team and were called to a press conference.

At the conference she noted, "This is a dream come true. All I can say is that you have to believe in yourself to get there. I am completely surprised and overwhelmed."

“My father said to me at one point, he thought we could both made it [to the Olympic Games],” Barrett said. “It is hard to imagine us getting to this point but the fact that we both have is pretty special.”

Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, the runner-ups in the free skate, placed third overall. They landed their signature throw triple Axel and put down a solid overall free program.

Meanwhile two-time and reigning champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker finished fifth and saw their Olympic dreams are dashed.

Second after the short program, Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin, slipped to sixth overall.

The three-member U.S. men's Olympic team will be determined after Sunday's free skate.