So as part of the year-long rewind I’ve been doing this summer, I’ve hit upon all the Senior pairs that competed at U.S. Nationals this past January…
Oh, wait. Any skating blogger worth her keyboard’s gotta keep everyone abreast these days of the developments in Camp Yu-Na, so… this article and several others revealed Monday that Yu-Na is relocating to Los Angeles. A new coach has yet to be determined; for now, she will train without a coach at the East West Ice Palace, which as you might know is owned by Michelle Kwan’s family. (Thanks also to whoever mentioned this in the blog comments the other day)
And to keep matters as even as I can, here’s MaoAsada’s latest news … she’s naming Nobuo Sato as her new coach. You might know him better as the guy who rubs circles into Takahiko Kozuka’s back just before he competes. Or… you might call him Yuka’s Dad. Both are accurate.
Back to U.S. pair teams… it could be a very interesting situation cropping up in this first post-Vancouver season. Rather than have Teams #1 & 2 retire from the amateur ranks, we saw Teams #4 (Castile/Okolski) & 5 (McLaughlin/Brubaker) make the big announcements earlier this year. Both had been the #1 team previously, but both had suffered their fair share of rough spots lately—enough to keep them both from making the Olympic team, as it turned out.
And while with pairs there’s always the possibility of one half teaming up with someone new, it appears that only one of the four involved here—24 year-old Rockne Brubaker—is currently considering it. (If anyone’s seen news of a new partner for him, let me know… other than rumors about being paired “temporarily” with Sasha Cohen (!) I’ve nothing to report here.)
Anyway, this is only half of the “interesting situation” I mentioned—for the Top Three is still something of a precarious bunch. I don’t mean Denney/Barrett; though their artistic side is still a work in progress, they’re probably the most consistently solid U.S. pair we’ve seen since Ina/Zimmerman (and I’m not just saying that because Zimmerman is their new coach). I’m referring instead to Evora/Ladwig and Inoue/Baldwin, who were separated by just a fraction of a point at Nationals and may have a harder time staying on the podium this year than they think. With late-bloomers Evora/Ladwig having such a breakout season last year, who can blame them for wanting to stick around when at ages 25/30, they might otherwise turn their thoughts to retirement? I just hope it goes as well for them as they’d like… I’m not entirely sure it will. And as for I/B... they keep sticking around, and I keep wondering when the “professional student” that is Baldwin will just graduate already. They peaked in ’06 as far as I’m concerned.
So who might stand out instead?
+ My top money will be on Yankowskas/Coughlin (ages 20/24), who have turned in very impressive short programs the past couple of years but haven’t been able to keep it together in the free skate. Maybe they’ll cave again for that reason, but I’m hoping it’s instead given them the experience to handle the pressure better than any of the other upcomers.
+ When it comes to fresh young talent, it doesn’t get much younger than 14 year-old Tracy Tanovich and 19 year-old Michael Chau. Though they only took 11th at this past Nationals, they lit up the place. Cross your fingers that they’re able to keep their magic touch as they mature…
+ Amanda Dobbs and Joseph Jacobsen (ages 17 and 23) would be my third choice, as they were also very fun to watch in their first round of Senior Nationals. We’ll have to see if they stick around though; Dobbs is also a singles competitor.
Sometime in the future I hope to shine a spotlight on last year’s top Juniors, too—after all, Tanovich/Chau were Junior Champs in ’09. For now, here’s a look at how they skated this year in the SP—the Clip of the Day.