by Liz Leamy
(15 January 2017) Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea, the reigning U.S. pair champions, seem strong and as determined as ever to defend their title this week at the U.S. Nationals in Kansas City.
The high-energy duo, who have been skating together since 2012 and are known for their huge throw jumps, beautifully extended lifts and powerful edges, seem confident and as ready as ever to deliver another championship batch of performances at this main event.
“We feel like we’re strong and ready to go,” said O’Shea, 25, who was the U.S. National Novice men’s champion back in 2008.
Kayne, 23, and O’Shea, 25, who claimed bronze at the 2015 U.S. Nationals and are the 2014 Four Continents silver medalists, train in Ellenton, Florida with Jim Peterson, the World and Olympic coach and Amanda Evora, the 2010 U.S. Olympic pair skater.
Based on the superior quality of their skating and impressive results, this team certainly seems to be poised this week in terms of being able to deliver the goods.
Last year, they scored gold at the 2016 U.S. Nationals with a memorable free skate that featured a host of superb lifts, throw triples and a gorgeous death spiral, among other things.
Last March, the two placed 13th at the 2016 World Championships in Boston where they had gone up against some tough competition, yet still made quite a strong impression with international officials.
In turn, O’Shea and Kayne seem to have used that experience as motivation to prepare for another stellar season this year.
“You know there’s a build happening,” said O’Shea. “It’s part of the team atmosphere and how the coaches have worked for so long.”
O’Shea, of course, is referring to the high-energy environment at the rink he and Kayne skate at in Ellenton, which has, over the past decade, come to be regarded as one of the premiere training bases for pairs in the U.S., thanks largely to Peterson and his coaching partner, Evora.
This past fall, the duo had some solid results, placing fourth at the NHK Trophy and sixth at Skate America.
Since that time, they have been working on further upgrading the intricacy and difficulty in all of their elements and choreography in both of their programs.
“The carry and lasso lifts have more difficult dismounts,” said O’Shea. “There’s no use in giving away points on things you can control.”
The two have also been working on further developing the strength of their footwork sequences.
For their short, O’Shea and Kayne are skating to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and “Back to Black”, both sung by the late Amy Winehouse. For their free program, they are skating to “A Song of India” by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov and “Marche Slave” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Ultimately, experience seems to play a big part in Kayne and O’Shea’s story going into this year’s Nationals.
“I think it helps with your confidence knowing you have experience,” said O’Shea. “We’re going in with confidence and aggressiveness."