DETROIT — Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, after being doubtful they would even compete at the championships a few weeks ago, won the U.S. pairs’ title on Saturday. It is the first title for the team, who have been together three seasons.
Cain suffered a concussion in December after falling on her head during a lift in a competition in Croatia.
Cain and LeDuc skated last in the session, finishing their free skate and falling to their knees.
“It just was a release and I think this medal isn’t just for us but for everyone who helped us get here,” Cain said after the free skate.
“We know that we’re fierce competitors,” LeDuc said, which he said afterward that he reminded the both of them before they took the ice.
All of the pairs’ elements received positive Grades of Execution.
Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, the 2017 U.S. champions, scored 133.32 points in the free skate for a total score of 201.64 and the silver medal.
Their softer, melodic program, set to selections from The Irrepressibles, was choreographed by 2014 Olympic ice dance champion Charlie White.
Deanna Stellato and Nate Bartholomay took home the bronze medal after scoring 131.74 in the free skate for a total score of 199.92 points. Their relatively clean skate stood out among the other teams.
“Well that’s a lesson learned,” she said in the mixed zone after being asked if she swore in disappointment after finishing the free skate. She appeared upset to have missed a feature in the team’s lift. “I was on the jumbotron, you could clearly see what I was [saying].
“That reverse lift, we win every competition with that lift. It’s fabulous. I move my arms, I’m not only balancing up there, I’m moving freely with my arms, in comparison with other teams who have been together for a decade and stay stationery. We always win with that lift and tonight I couldn’t do it. That was straight +5’s we left on the table and I knew it was going to matter.”
She said it wasn’t the placement they were looking for at the championships, but “we wanted to go to Four Continents because we desperately need points, so I’ll take the win.”
The Four Continents team announcement is expected Sunday morning.
2016 U.S. champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea, who held a lead after the short program, fell to fourth. They scored 126.81 points in the free skate for a total overall score of 198.64 points.
They received -1.90 GOE on their side-by-side jumps, triple Salchows, despite opening their program with a strong triple twist. Kayne and O’Shea bailed out of their third lift attempt, receiving zero credit.
“Sometimes you mess up when it counts most,” O’Shea said the skate. “It’s hard. There’s no reason. Why do you overthrow the ball in football? Why do you mess up the pass that goes right through your hands? That’s what it equates to… I lost us 8.5 points-ish, cost us a trip anywhere else this season.”
Husband and wife team Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim fell apart after a disappointing short program on Thursday. The two-time national champions (2015, 2018) received negative GOE for their side-by-side double Salchow combinations, were downgraded on their side-by-side double toe jumps, and received zero credit for their third lift when they bailed out early.
They scored 109.86 in the free skate for a total score of 171.42 for seventh place, their lowest ever as a team.
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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