Figure Skating: From the Boards

And the 2010-2011 Comeback Kid is…. October 9, 2010

With the Senior Grand Prix series just around the corner (13 days, for those of you counting down with me!), things are quickly picking up in the skating world. The Junior Grand Prix is flying by, this week stopping in Dresden, Germany as the juniors battle it out for a place in the Grand Prix Final.

(Speaking of the JGP in Germany, I want to say congrats to Richard Dornbush on his gold medal performances, Christina Gao on her second Grand Prix silver, and to Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely for their third place finish! Find complete results of the event here.)

Also happening this week, skaters are in Finland for the 2010 Finlandia Trophy. The US has been well represented – Johnathan Cassar and Grant Hochstein competed for the men, Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell in ice dance, and Amanda Dobbs for the ladies. Grant came *this close* to the bronze…only a difference of .01 separated the 3rd place finisher, Samuel Contesti from Italy! He was second in the Free Skate though, so congrats Grant! Also, check out Grant’s blog/diary posts for Icenetwork from the event in Finland – a fun read!

And with all the international buzz, there’s even more to keep an eye on nationally! Regional competitions going on around the US, and many skaters already have their eyes set on Nationals in Greensboro, NC. But to get there, they’ve got to take it one step at a time. One pair looking to do just that is none other than two-time National Champ, Rockne Brubaker.

Now, if you’ve been keeping up with posts here at From the Boards, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned Rockne. He’s been in the news often in the last few months, sadly, not because he’s gearing up for the GP series, but because he’s been on the lookout for a new partner. Well, as I said in a previous post, he’s found one in Mary Beth Marley. She’s only 15, but in this article from Icenetwork.com, Brubaker says the age is not even a small factor. He says she’s the hardest worker he’s ever known, and from the sounds of things, I have to agree! She was landing a throw triple on the second day of the new team’s tryout, and here’s the kicker – she’d had no pairs experience before….ever! Looks like she’s as hungry for that top spot as her 24-year-0ld partner!

But skating in the pairs discipline is a bit more complicated than, say, singles, because not only do two people have to be able to do the pairs tricks, but they have to be able to do them together, and learning how to be a team, a couple on the ice, doesn’t often come too quickly. So, when I heard in June that Rockne’s former partner, Keauna McLaughlin, was leaving the sport, I (like Rockne himself) figured his season was over.

Enter, Mary Beth Marley.

And after just a few months and several skills tests passed, the two have their sights set on the international spotlight. They were hoping if they showed enough promise, USFS would give them one of the open spots at Skate America in November, but they weren’t quite that lucky. Still, their plan is to blow us all away at Nationals, make it back to that podium, and on to Worlds.

I tell ya, I just love a comeback story. (Okay, so I loved Rockne anyway! But still…) I could only imagine how Rockne must have felt in June, thinking his season was done and he wouldn’t have the chance to come back from a disappointing finish at Nationals that led to not making the Olympic team. And yet, he never gave up. Good thing. If he had, we may have missed out on the story of the year! (Okay, okay! I know it’s not really much of a story yet. But I can’t help it, I’m really excited to see things work out for him and Mary Beth.)

So as we make our way to the NHK Trophy in just under two weeks, keep an eye out, come nationals, for those who may not have had their day internationally. I have a feeling it’s going to be exciting!

Speaking of comebacks, as I was scouring YouTube for any video evidence of Rockne and Mary Beth (which you can find here, by the way), I found another interesting video of another interesting pair: Lindsey Davis and Themi Leftheris. Themi skated with Naomi Nari Nam when she came back to the sport as a pairs skater, and the two of them were cuter than cute…I was so sad when Naomi’s injury struggles came back to haunt them, because I felt they had something really special. Well, looks like half the team is back, this time with Lindsey Davis. And they have some potential. The video shows some interesting elements. She looks to be a strong singles skater, which should help as they progress. Anyway, thought I’d share this find with you! Enjoy!

Don’t forget!! Check your local listings for NBC’s airing of “All that Skate LA” TOMORROW, 10/10/10. (I knew all those 10’s was a good sign – skating on TV, must be good luck!)

Until then…

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