Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vancouver Calling: Who's In? (U.S. Pairs Predictions)

U.S. Nationals prediction time is upon us again… so let’s start with the PAIRS!

Here’s what I know: Ten teams from last year have returned… one is a pair-up from two ex-teams (one-half of which is Tiffany Vise; her partner Derek Trent has now retired)… one guy is back with someone who didn’t compete here last year…McLaughlin/Brubaker are the defending champions…we can only send two teams to Olympics this year, same as in 2006. Last time the U.S. won an Olympic pairs medal: 1988… last time the U.S. won a World medal: 2002.

Here’s what I don’t know: Why there are only 16 teams competing this year when 19 came to this event last year. Please comment if you know… I’m curious.

Here’s how I see it:

GOLD: Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett
SILVER: Keauna McLaughlin & Rockne Brubaker
BRONZE: Rena Inoue & John Baldwin

I’m still fond of McBru; don’t get me wrong. But to me, Denney/Barrett are not only our team of the future, but the best team RIGHT NOW. They were a surprise last year, but have been extremely impressive since then at Worlds as well as both GP assignments this past Fall. The biggest surprise from them would be if they blow it. I’m sure their PCS’s aren’t as high yet as some of the more experienced teams, but I think they are coming along fine in that regard… and certainly have the content and consistency that no other U.S. team has right now. McBru will likely beat them if they skate clean, trouble is, I haven’t seen much of that lately from them. And as for John “my God he’s almost as old as my husband” Baldwin and his lovely bride-to-be… as always, if they can nail the throw triple axel they could well bank 2 more Olympic tickets. But then there’s the SBS triple toes, and SBS double axels, and, um…

DARK HORSES: Brooke Castile & Benjamin Okolski have done some lovely skating in the past, including win this crazy thing in 2007, but their one GP outing a couple months back was not a good one. Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig have been knocking on the podium’s door for a few years now. And Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin were a great SP surprise last year that imploded in the free skate. If they can get it together a little better this year, who knows?

For the
Clip of the Day we’ll hit the Wayback Machine (was it really FOUR years ago?) to show Inoue/Baldwin’s victorious free skate that got them to Torino.


Anonymous said...

From your mouth to God's ear! Caydee and Jeremy all the way.

Anonymous said...

I think if Denney and Barrett did their tricks "bigger" and with more refinement and had a better rapport on the ice, they'd score better. Their low PCS reflect their weaknesses... They had some clean skates on the Grand Prix that just didn't score very well, and they lost to a couple very average teams. I know they were outscored by Inoue & Baldwin, but I really hope we go with youth for the Olympic team. Denney & Barrett have to skate clean to have a good chance, but luckily their strength is skating clean.

Sharon said...

I really admire D/B and agree that they skate clean nicely but they have some weaknesses that McBru don't. McBru have a mature presence on the ice, beautiful unison, and skate "stronger" when they are on. I realize that when they are "on" means no mistakes and that hasn't been the case lately. Still, they are a beautiful, strong team with much more potential, imo. D/B have potential, too, but to me they just aren't there yet to carry the mantle of US champs internationally. Here's hoping everyone skates well!

Kelli Lawrence said...

I should add that, if both D/B and McBru make the Olympic team, I wouldn't be surprised if McBru outplaces D/B regardless of what happens in Spokane. I do tend to think that at least part of D/B's lower PCS can be attributed to the fact that the judges haven't seen much of them yet.

Would LOVE to see McBru nail those throws this year.