Kayne and O’Shea Lead U.S. Pairs in Short Program
by Liz Leamy
(28 January 2019) Tarah Kayne & Daniel O’Shea, the 2016 U.S. Champions and 2018 Four Continents Champions, catapulted into first place in the pairs short showdown at the 2019 U.S. Championships, earning a 71.83 for their compelling rendition of ‘That’s It’ by Sofi Tucker.
Kayne & O’Shea opened up with a dramatic back outside death spiral and followed up with a big split triple twist, triple Salchow, throw triple loop and a level four lift and combination spin, for which they racked up Grade of Execution points that ranged from plus twos to plus fours.
Describing their performance Kayne said, “So many times throughout my career I didn't think I would get back to this place because I keep getting injured and it just seemed like I couldn't catch a break. So it means the world to me to be sitting here talking about how this went well.”
O’Shea added, “I think we're different in a lot of ways and we're the same in a lot of ways. We're growing and we're building on the strengths that we already have. I feel that something that is great about where we are at right now is the ability to work with ice dance coaches on a daily basis and to have ourselves pushed in that way has been wonderful. It's a wonderful program. We are happy the short went well.”
Ashley Cain & Timothy LeDuc, the 2018 Four Continents silver medalists and 2017 U.S. bronze medalists, wound up second on the leaderboard with a score of 70.47.
This dynamic duo, who train in Euless, Texas with their parents, Darlene and Peter Cain and Nina Mozer, earned high marks for their high throw triple Lutz, intricate level-four step sequence and fast level-four combination pair spin, among other things.
The two skated to ‘Bella Belle’ by the Electric Swing Circus.
“It was definitely very rewarding," said Cain. "When we were out there, we just took it one element at a time and we checked off the boxes. Six weeks ago, we didn’t think we would be standing here. Coming into this competition we didn’t really know what would happen; we didn’t know how we would feel on that day; we didn’t know how I would react to the lights. So the fact that we put out a good performance like that just shows that we are strong competitors and that we trusted our training. I think the biggest part is that he was strong for me in all of this. I was able to count on him being there for me and he was able to count on me putting out my best effort today.”
Describing how the team adjusted to Cain's recent concussion, LeDuc said, “We have made some slight adjustments [since the injury] while still preserving our levels. We mainly adjusted our preparation coming into this. Some of the things that flipped upside down we took out to alleviate some of the impact on her head.”
Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier, the 2017 U.S. Champions, claimed third with a 68.32 in this portion of the competition for their intriguing program to ‘Billie Jean’ by David Cook.
This high-energy team, who train in Fox Valley, Illinois with Rockne Brubaker and Stefania Barton, knocked out solid side-by-side triple Salchows, a soaring throw triple loop, a well-extended level-four lift and a dramatic back outside death spiral, among other things.
Denney said, “I feel like we did our best today. I haven’t looked at the protocol sheets yet, but I have a feeling we didn’t get all of our levels to our potential. But the biggest thing that I think we are proud of today is our fight and determination with the elements and carrying a good performance all the way through. I think that is what we will take away from today.”
Frazier added, “We have kind of had a rocky start to the season and dealt with a big injury in the middle, so there’s a lot of baggage coming in to start this competition. We have really prepared and put a lot of energy and work into it. It is probably not the perfect short we have ever run, but it is definitely something to be proud of to regain some momentum. We came here and got the job done today and that is all that matters.”
The 2018 U.S. bronze medalists, Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay, ended the short program segment in fourth place.
On their performance in the short Stellato said, “It felt like a complete program. I'm not really sure what happened. The throw felt good in the air, but everything else felt really solid and really good. I could tell we were dead on in our spins because the crowd started cheering so loud I could barely hear him call anymore so we must be right on. I could get off the ice pleased with what I did. I'm always going to be hard on myself because I want to be technically perfect as well, but it certainly felt choreographically proficient, in terms of the package we were able to deliver.”
Bartholomay described their performance saying, “Not our best but we really felt good going out there. The crowd was great. We put down a solid performance, complete package and we're excited to come out for the free skate.”
Reigning U.S. Champions Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim struggled in the Short Program and ended the segment in sixth place.