Pairs skating may be a sport for two, but Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea contend it takes many more than that to achieve at the highest levels. Saturday, the team from Ellenton, Fla., credited a group effort with helping them win their first U.S. pairs championship.
Though Florida might seem an unlikely place to develop skating stars, the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex has produced several top pairs — including Mark Ladwig of Moorhead and partner Amanda Evora, who competed at the 2010 Olympics. Kayne and O’Shea became the latest champs, winning the title with a score of 211.65. They finished on top in both the short program and in Saturday’s free skate, defeating defending champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim.
Kayne and O’Shea’s total score was the highest ever for a pair at the U.S. championships.
Scimeca and Knierim took the silver medal with 196.80 points, and Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran won bronze with 179.04.
“It goes to great coaching and a really good team atmosphere,” O’Shea said of the pair’s rise to gold from third place last year. “We all help each other out. From the youngest novice team up to the senior team, we all push each other and help each other.”
Kayne and O’Shea received a standing ovation for their program, which brought “The Music of the Night” to life. The song seemed to flow through them, swelling with their big, bold throws and lifts, then diminishing into moments of quiet beauty.
Their smiles grew brighter with every clean element they landed. At the end, O’Shea pumped his fist twice, while Kayne appeared both elated and astonished. She looked even more stunned when the scores came up, as her mouth dropped open and she embraced her beaming partner.
Scimeca and Knierim started well with their signature move: a soaring quadruple twist, with Scimeca spinning through the air. But Knierim fell on a triple toeloop, and Scimeca put her hand down on a throw triple lutz.
Though Knierim said the program was better than their ragged performance at last month’s Grand Prix Final, the mistakes were enough to bump them to second place.
“We had a shot at regaining another title,” Knierim said. “But we opened a door for other teams to take advantage in both the short [program] and the long, and they just waltzed right through it. We’re happy and disappointed at the same time.”