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Nationals: Day 2

Senior Pairs free skate.

Oh…wow. You just never know when the magic is going to happen. I was a little surprised when Rena Inoue & John Baldwin announced they were returning for another go at Nationals. I mean, she’s 34 and he’s 37! That’s ancient for figure skaters! They did well in the short, but had a couple of very weird mistakes…like him falling completely out of a side by side spin…and came into the long program in…I think fourth. At any rate, in the final flight. And today, in the midst of a long program that was skated about as well as they could possibly skate, they did the best throw triple axel they’ve ever done in competition. It was beautiful. From here on out, everything else I see will be gravy. At the end, to an absolutely spontaneous standing O, she was crying her eyes out. Couldn’t even take her bow at first. Meanwhile John was gesturing to her and clapping along with everyone else.

I’m quite certain they mean to “retire” permanently to the professional ranks now, which was part of the reason for Rena’s tears. They ended up placing third, which means, in my mind at least, the perfect ending of an exceptional amateur career. They’re on the podium at Nationals thanks to a perfect program, but won’t be going to the Olympics, where, frankly, they truly wouldn’t be competitive.

Our champions are the adorable firebird pair who have only been together for two, count them, two years. They were perfect to “Scheherazade” with throws which were proclaimed, by David Kirby, the technical expert on our little earphones (more on that in a minute), as “pretty pristine throws, with great height and distance.”

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig had a great free skate with a very difficult final lift. They came in a surprised second and will be heading for the Olympics with Caydee and Jeremy. And fourth went to the 2007 champs, Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski.

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker got a bit of a wake up call this year. Bad timing, as it’s an Olympic year, but they’ll be better skaters in the long run. All the talent in the world, but they made several major blunders and lots of nickle and dime mistakes. They just didn’t ring my chimes.

Tracy and Michael, my favorite little pair from Florida did a great job to another partial standing O. Their short, to Carousel Waltz, had all the charm of their 2007 routines. Totally age appropriate for little Tracy and energetic, engaging choreography. Their Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty that they did for long was as charming and the audience was thoroughly behind them, but it lacked that make them jump to their feet quality of their short. It was solid, innovative, clean, but with the occasional downgrade here and there that comes with a maturing young lady learning to control a new, longer-limbed body. I still say, watch out for this pair!

Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin: Caitlin is very possibly the most stunningly pretty woman I’ve ever seen on the ice…and that’s saying something from someone who’s pretty “bleh” where it comes to blond females. But despite a beautiful head of what appears at least to be natural platinum blond hair, she’s gorgeous in every other way, face, body, line…and a darned good skater. He’s a solid partner. Their programs were both solid and interesting. They came into the long program very high…third, I think,  but had a couple of stumbles and fell off the podium, so to speak. But I hope they keep it up. I’d like to see more of them.

Finally Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin. Probably never see them on the podium, but their Mona Lisa Overdrive program was one of my favorites of the night. Carolyn’s comment on them? “I bet she hates being name Tiffany.”

What else…oh, yeah, Junior Pairs short. Only two teams stood out to me. Erika Smith and Nathan Bartholomay, who skated a very exciting and solid program, and Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller, who were less strong….her backline to leg extension needs lots of strengthening, but they did a kung fu number to Asian fusion music that was totally engaging and her interpretation was spot on. His was good, but I’m not sure he’s going to be able to match her in the character department.

Good day! Tired. Tomorrow…the Senior men’s long! YAY

But for me, other then the

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