Kayne, O’Shea lead pairs’ short program at U.S. Championships

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DETROIT — 2016 national champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea lead the pairs’ short program at the U.S. Championships in Detroit on Thursday.

They skate under a new coach this year, Dalilah Sappenfield, and have said they understand the high stakes: only one U.S. pair will be sent to the world championships in March.

Kayne and O’Shea received positives Grades of Execution on each of their elements and totaled 71.83 points in the short program.

“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,” Kayne said through U.S. Figure Skating. “So it means the world to me to be sitting here talking about
how this went well.”

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc followed with 70.47 points in second place. They told reporters after their performance that they were happy just to be skating at nationals; they almost didn’t. Cain suffered a scary fall in December when she fell on her head coming out of a lift in competition.

“The fact that we put out a good performance like that just shows that we are strong competitors and that we trusted our training,” Cain said at the press conference. “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.”

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, theb 2017 U.S. champions, sit third going into Saturday’s free skate with 68.32 points. Fourth by just 0.14 are Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay, who debuted a new short program at nationals.

Husband and wife pair and two-time national champions Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim are seventh with 61.56 points after a short program that saw an unstable twist with a step out from Scimeca Knierm as well as as step out of the side-by-side triple jumps.

Results: Pairs’ short program

Earlier Thursday, Laiken Lockley and Keenan Prochnow held their lead from the short program and won the junior pairs’ division with 163.35 points. Kate Finster and Balazs Nagy earned silver with 149.49 points and Isabelle Martins and Ryan Bedard took the bronze with 141.97 points.

Results: Junior pairs’ final

MORE: 3 questions with the Knierims

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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