JAMIE M. BLANCHARD
Figure Skaters Online
Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin won the short program at the 2011 U.S. Championships on Thursday in Greensboro, N.C., beating out two sets of Olympians and an upstart pair featuring a two-time U.S. Champion. The Colorado Springs, Colo., based pair scored 64.30 points with a sultry performance to Astor Piazzolla’s “Tango Oblivion”.
Olympians Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, the reigning national silver medalists who led off the competition by debuting a new program, finished second with 62.87 while third place belongs to the rookies Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker (58.10). Marley and Brubaker paired six months ago after his partnership with Keauna McLaughlin, whom he won two U.S. Championships with, dissolved.
“What she’s done in such a short amount of time is pretty remarkable,” Brubaker said. “Next year, after a full year of skating together, that’s when we feel we’ll really have an opportunity to impress.”
Defending U.S. Champions Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett (57.79), who were 13th at the Olympic Winter Games and twice finished in the top 10 at the World Championships, are fourth heading into the free skate. While they are 6.51 points out of the lead, they are only .31 behind Marley and Brubaker.
After opening their program to “Love Theme” from the Cousins soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti with a solid triple twist, Denney fell on the team’s side by side triple toes. The pair quickly recovered with a solid throw triple flip and also performed a Level 3 sit spin, Level 3 straight line steps and ended with a Group 5 Axel Lasso Lift, graded at a Level 4.
Denney and Barrett, who are in their season together, are now under the direction of John Zimmerman, who is a three-time U.S. Champion and 2002 World bronze medalist with Kyoko Ina. They announced the coaching change at the beginning of the season.
Riding the momentum of a bronze medal performance at Cup of China, Yankowskas and Coughlin were precise from their opening triple twist through the program ending backward inside edge death spiral, although that move only garnered a Level 1. The team performed a throw triple Salchow and side by side triple toes. Their highest scoring element was their spectacular lift that received 7.30 points.
“Our goal for nationals is to perform our programs with a huge component mark,” Yankowskas said. “We try not to focus on the marks or the results of the competition when we compete, especially this year, and we just focus on each other. When we are on the ice, it is just us, together, creating a story. We want to share our story with the audience.”
Their seductive routine received the only standing ovation of the afternoon.
“If we skate the way we just did, we will be tough to beat,” Coughlin said.
In their debut performance of “Sing Sing Sing”, which they created after receiving poor feedback from their Grand Prix short program, Evora and Ladwig were nearly flawless, with the exception of rough landing on the throw triple loop, which received a negative grade of execution. Their triple twist and side by side triple toes were so crisp that their coach Jim Peterson celebrated at the boards.
Marley and Brubaker’s performance opened with a lackluster Level 1 triple twist that received a negative grade of exeuction. The program was highlighted by side by side triple toes, a throw triple Salchow and their lift.
Other results include Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir sixth with 51.48 points; Becky Bereswill and Trevor Young eighth with 48.77; and Chloe Katz and Joseph Lynch are 12th with 46.38. Alexa Scimeca and Ivan Dimitrov withdrew due to illness.
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