Wednesday, December 5

Denney/Coughlin Injury and the Situation for US Pairs

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin are out of the 2013 US National Championships and they seem to be focused on having a completely healthy 2014 Olympic season, which means that they are everything but officially withdrawn from the World Championships in March. The team finished 8th at their first Worlds together last season.

If Denney and Coughlin do withdraw from the World Championships, the USA is in a bit of a situation thanks to the new ISU technical minimum scores that need to be achieved by skaters in order to become eligible for the Championship events.

As it stands right now, only two teams: Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir and Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim have reached the minimum points required for the World Championships. Castelli and Shnapir are a veteran team, having started skating together in 2006; however, they have never competed at the Four Continents or World Championships. Scimeca and Knierim, on the other hand, are a new team that has only competed internationally together twice, including a recent 4th place finish right behind Castelli and Shnapir at the NHK Trophy.

There are many teams in the USA that have the minimum scores needed to compete at the Four Continents Championship in February, which would give all of them a shot at reaching the World Championship minimum score (in the event that the aforementioned pairs do not finish in the top two at US Nationals). Here is a list of those teams:
  • Aaron/Settlage (competing as juniors)
  • Calalang/Sidhu (competing as juniors)
  • Davis/Ladwig
  • Denney/Frazier
  • Donlan/Speroff
  • Oltmanns/Santillan (competing as juniors)
  • Simpson/Blackmer (competing as juniors)
  • Vise/Baldwin
  • Zhang/Bartholomay

Looking at the ISU Event roster for the rest of the season, we know from the official entry lists of two upcoming events (the NRW Trophy and the Golden Spin of Zagreb) that no US pairs are entered. This leaves the following competitions as opportunity for the above pairs (as well as the injured Yankowskas/Reagan) to earn the minimum scores needed for Worlds:
  • Denkova/Staviski Cup, Sofia BUL, December 13-16 (I am not even sure if this event is taking place)
  • 1st New Year Cup 2013, Bratislava SVK, January 3-6
  • Mentor Nestle Nesquick Cup, Torun POL, January 10-12 (unlikely due to being held a week before Nationals)
  • (Four Continents Championship, Osaka JPN, February 6-11)
  • Bavarian Open, Oberstdorf GER, February 7-10
  • Challenge Cup 2013, The Hague NED, February 21-24
And that's it. 

The ISU has been saying all along that they reserve the right to change the technical minimum scores at any time, but let's just go with the idea that they will stay where they are at.

What could realistically happen at this point is either of the two qualified teams could completely bomb Nationals and finish 6th or something, but along the way none of the other teams manage a qualified score. That 6th-place team still is likely to go to the World Championships. I alluded to this in one of my earlier rants about this ISU system, but really-- what is the point of the National Championships in situations that are possible like this?

By the way- the two teams that do in fact go to the World Championships are looking for a combined placement of no more than 28 points two retain two spots for the Sochi Olympics. As it stands now, the maximum number of entries allowed to compete (based on those technical scores) is 15.


Anonymous said...

There's always a point to Nationals--- It's to see where skaters are ranked nationally and to name the national medalists. Even if a National Champion wasn't eligible for whatever reason for Worlds, they can still be referred to as the best in their country (like Mirai in 2008).

I imagine they're going to lower the qualifying scores anyway. But even if they didn't and our National Champ pair happened to be a team without the qualifying score, they can still be proud to have earned the title of best in the US (it totally won't happen-- C/S or S/K will win right?)

Tony said...

I definitely see your point, but I think this is going to end up making some of the National Championships around the world a lot less exciting.

As far as the ISU lowering their minimums: I actually don't think they will. As it stands right now, all four disciplines have just under the amount of skaters that typically start the short program/short dance (30 in singles, 25 in dance, 20 in pairs). If they lower the scores, then there is going to be a need for preliminary rounds once again. I suspect that a big part of making these minimums so high was to avoid having those few extra days of competition.