Moore-Towers, Moscovitch backload way to winDenney, Coughlin follow suit, pick up silver; Kayne, O'Shea grab bronze
Max Aaron isn't the only one in figure skating who knows how to backload a program. Pairs do pretty well with it, too.
When John Coughlin was asked how he and partner Caydee Denney felt when the ending of their dramatic Phantom of the Opera free skate at the 2013 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic earned a standing ovation, he said, "I was glad we were standing when it ended."
With all three lifts plus a throw triple flip in the second half of the program, Coughlin had reason for fatigue.
"Our coaches like to say, 'After that second throw hits, the program is over -- it's all components from here on in,'" he said. "I say, 'Right, pick your partner up and take a lap.'"
Denney and Coughlin's coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, had to laugh.
"Of course we put a lot of elements in the second half; that's how you rack up extra points," Sappenfield said. "John and I do joke after the second throw. I always say, 'Sell the lift, it's not a big deal.'"
While Denney and Coughlin's performance was impressive -- it opened with a monster triple twist, followed by a throw triple loop and side-by-side triple toes -- it ranked second to that of Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who had a near-clean outing to music from La Strada.
The Canadian silver medalists, fourth in the world last season, had a powerhouse opening of triple twist, two triple toes done in sequence and triple Salchows.
They crammed even more into the second half than Denney and Coughlin did, hitting two triple throws, a Salchow and loop, as well as all three lifts.
The final one, entered with Moscovitch in a lunge, nearly ran into the boards. It didn't affect their score much; they won the free with 132.78 points. Added to their short program score, they ended the event with 201.30.
"The elements felt very comfy. I think it was a good building block for us," Moore-Towers said.
"We've been training very well. I knew after the way it felt last year, I had to add a little extra cardio to the repertoire," Moscovitch said. "That program, no matter how hard I train it, is always hard at the end, and it's built that way. It's supposed to be hard."
Like Coughlin, Moscovitch had to push past pain to complete the final lift.
"I'll say this -- my legs talked to me a lot," he said. "They're not quiet. Our coach, Kris [Wirtz], is yelling, 'C'mon, C'mon.' I'm like, 'I'm going.' The end of the program just hurts a lot."
"No pain, no gain," an unsympathetic Moore-Towers said.
Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea grabbed the bronze medal with a solid program to Don Quixote that featured three Level 4 lifts in the second half, as well as two triple Salchows done in sequence (O'Shea under-rotated the second) and a solid throw triple Salchow.
The Florida-based team gained 106.96 points and ended with 167.27 points.
"This is our second international competition ever," Kayne said. "With that in mind, we're very happy. Despite it not being the perfect program, I think we wrapped it up very well."
"We had the mentality of just going in and doing everything the way we do in practice," O'Shea said. "We didn't skate for a score. Things just kind of worked out for us."
Things didn't work quite as well for Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who had an off night. Skating to a James Bond medley choreographed by Julie Marcotte, the U.S. champions opened with a fine triple twist and then tried the risky throw quadruple Salchow. Castelli rotated the maneuver but landed on two feet and turned out.
In the second half of the program, Shnapir fell on a triple Salchow, and the team also lost ground with Level 1's on its death spiral and pairs spin.
"That's not what we wanted to put out," Shnapir said. "We had a couple of falls and just didn't feel strong today. I felt confident going in, but I didn't execute."
"We need to focus our side-by-side jumps," Castelli said. "That's something we need to tackle. We did double toes because we were working on doing that quad throw, but we need to go back to our jumps."
For Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay, it was also a night to forget. The U.S. bronze medalists opened with a triple twist and landed a solid throw triple Salchow, but they faltered on the landings of their triple toes as well as the throw triple flip. They placed seventh.
"There are a lot of technical points in the program, and we lost most of them today," Bartholomay said. "We had some bumps and hitches in training. We weren't trying to peak here, but it certainly wasn't anywhere close to where we wanted to be."