Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 U.S. Nationals predictions start here... with PAIRS!

It turns out you have to go back 20 years to find a Nationals with 10 or fewer entrants in Senior Pairs. 1993 Nats gave Calla Urbanski/Rocky Marval the gold, Jenni Meno/Todd Sand the silver, and Karen Courtland/Todd Reynolds the bronze... and then only 6 more teams behind them in the entire thing (including fifth-placers Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen, the latter of which you might know better now as coach to Jeremy Abbott and Alissa Czisny).

This year brings us only ten teams, so we might as well list them all... why not... there’s plenty of room! I’ll even include a YouTube clip if I can find one.

So... coming to Nats via Sectionals are:

From Easterns... Tarah Kayne/Daniel O'Shea—I know nothing about them, but here they were as competitors at this past summer’s Indy Challenge. 

Also from Easterns... Felicia Zhang /Nathan Bartholomay, who finished 8th last year. They too attended Indy Challenge this past summer... 

From Midwesterns come Kiri Baga /Taylor Toth; a new team and a first-time (?) pair team for Baga, who continues to compete in singles as well. Their Indy Challenge video is here.

Also from Mids is DeeDee Leng /Timothy LeDuc. LeDuc was 11th last year with former partner Cassie Andrews. I can’t find any video of these two skating together, but if you happen to know more about them or their story, please share!

One more from Mids: Alexa Scimeca /Christopher Knierim. It may be a new pairing (both skated at Nats last year with other partners), but it appears to have started well—they won Coup de Nice and finished a respectable 4th at NHK Trophy, as can be seen here.    

As for the rest of the competitors (all of whom have received a “Bye”):

Marissa Castelli /Simon Shnapir are perhaps the “veteran” team at this point, training as a team since 2006 and competing at the senior level since 2009. They won their first GP medal, a bronze, at NHK Trophy a couple months ago (seen here).  

Lindsay Davis /Mark Ladwig, on the other hand, are perhaps the newest team... but they’ve already got three major events under their collective belts with the Ice Challenge (5th place), Skate Canada (7th), and NHK (6th). Here’s a performance from SkCAN.   

Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier were competing at the Junior level as recently as this past fall (see this performance at JGP Lake Placid, where they finished 4th), so Seniors is a new game for them.  

Gretchen Donlan /Andrew Speroff are in their third year as seniors and received their first GP assignment this season with Skate America (seen here). 

Tiffany Vise/Don Baldwin are only in their third season together, but at ages 35 (Baldwin) and nearly 27 (Vise) they’ve achieved their own sort of seniority. Vise, in fact, has competed at the senior level (with three different pairs partners) since 2002! You can find a performance from this season’s Skate America here.   

My predictions for the pairs podium...

GOLD: Castelli/Shnapir
SILVER: Donlan/Speroff
BRONZE: Scimeca/Knierim

Any requests on what to predict next...? 


sara.raju said...

Do the men next! As much as I love Jeremy Abbot and co., I feel like there is a bit of a power vacuum in men's skating for the US. I'm waiting for the next Evan Lysacek, do you think he'll be at nat'ls this yr?

Kelli Lawrence said...

Sara-- I believe he officially withdrew a few days ago.

As for the next "him"... he might still be down in juniors :-) Assuming they survive the milder-but-still-persistent PUBERTY MONSTER...