The pairs free skate at the 2018 U.S. Championships was a stronger competition than expected with the top four teams each scoring more than 195 points overall.
Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc came out on top, claiming their first title with a personal best score of 212.36. “It just shows that with hard work and dedication, you can get to this moment,” said Cain. “It was just a release of everything. We had to make sure that we looked at each element individually rather than the whole program, and I think that’s what the program was today.”
Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, the 2017 U.S. champions, finished in second with 201.64 points. The duo struggled with injuries in recent seasons, and this competition was a huge step forward to reestablishing themselves as one of the top American teams. “We’ve put so much work into the last five or six weeks of training to just show up and be able to put out stuff that we’re proud of,” said Frazier.
Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nathan Bartholomay moved up from fourth after the short to finish third overall with 199.92 points. “I think we struggled a bit earlier in the season. We really felt like we had taken things one step at a time and have been steadily been improving. Today was definitely a fight,” Bartholomay said.
Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea, who led after the short program, had to settle for fourth place after a disappointing free skate, which included an aborted Group 3 lift at the end of the routine. They finished the competition with 198.64 points. “Honestly, that doesn’t even happen in practice. Sometimes you mess up when it counts most. There was no reason,” O’Shea explained. “Why do you overthrow the ball in football? Why do you miss the pass that goes right through your hands? That’s basically what it equates to.”
It was a disappointing competition for Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim who faltered in their free skate, finishing in a career-low seventh place with 171.42 points. It was later reported that Chris Knierim is suffering from a wrist ligament injury.
2019 World Championships Team
Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc
Alternates: Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea, Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim, Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay,
2019 Four Continents Team
Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc, Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier, Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea
Alternates: Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay, Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim, Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson
2019 World Junior Championships
Sarah Feng/TJ Nyman, Kate Finster/Balazs Nagy, Laiken Lockley/Keenan Prochnow
Alternates: Chelsea Liu/Ian Meyh, Grace Knoop/Blake Eisenach