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.