The pairs free skate kicked off today, October 26, 2014 at Skate America in Chicago, Illinois. It was a great day of pairs skating as some newcomers emerged into the spotlight and some veterans returned to their former glory.
Russians, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, claimed their first Skate America title today with an impressive free skate, which included a throw quad salchow. Though this team was out last season with an injury, they skated brilliantly and were clearly in a league of their own defeating the Chinese and the Americans by over 25 points. Kavaguti and Smirnov completed element after element without hesitation and skated with immense passion. It was an incredible performance by this team and it is obvious that they are now the team to beat.
An American pair team has not won the silver medal at Skate America since 2008, yet today Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, broke that streak overcoming the Chinese and taking the silver. This was Denney and Frazier’s Skate America debut and they skated with confidence and conviction, nailing each of their elements. Skating to The Lion King they brought their best to the table and were nicely rewarded for their effort. This certainly sets Denney and Frazier up to become the favorites for the national title.
Securing the bronze, was Chinese Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang who had some nice technical elements, yet Peng fell on both side-by-side jumps. It was a very different program for Peng and Zhang and the artistry and chemistry between the two skaters seemed to be off today. This team and their coaches may need to go back and work out some of the kinks in this program to add more fluidity. This team has a lot of strengths, but this program and their skate today, did not seem to display that very well.
Americans, Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, also had some trouble today as Chris fell on one of their side-by-side jumps and Alexa could not hold onto the landing of their trow triple loop. They had some very nice moments in their program, but it was not enough to capture a medal this time around. Scimeca and Knierim finished in fourth with Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage in fifth. For Madeline and Max this was a great start for them in the senior ranks. The U.S. teams have a lot of potential and hopefully we will see them continue to develop and progress throughout the season.
Final standings after the free skate:
1. Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov RUS – 209.16 WATCH NOW
2. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier USA – 183.84 WATCH NOW
3. Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang CHN – 182.43 WATCH NOW
4. Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim USA – 168.82 WATCH NOW
5. Madeline Aaron/Max Settlage USA – 160.04 WATCH NOW
6. Vanessa Grenier/Maxime Deschamps CAN – 143.59 WATCH NOW
7. Annabelle Prolss/Ruben Blommaert GER – 136.35 WATCH NOW
8. Miriam Ziegler/Severin Kiefer AUT – 135.83 WATCH NOW