Figure Skating: From the Boards

The shift is on: Denney/Coughlin pair up May 17, 2011

Coughlin, with partner Caitlin Yankowskas, mesmerized audiences with a sultry tango short program.

In case you somehow missed it, there’s yet another chapter in the developing story of the US Pairs program. After the somewhat surprising news about National champs Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin’s split, it seemed nothing was predictable for this off season.

Case in point: today’s official announcement that former National champ Caydee Denney would be pairing up to compete with Coughlin.

After the announcement from Coughlin, all signs led many to believe John would retire, continuing in the sport via coaching of some sort.

His partnership with Yankowskas had a quality that many only dream of — the two called each other their best friend, and their chemistry on the ice was almost tangible.

Of course, the emotional connection to the champs was aided by their emotion-filled season. Skating their long program as a tribute to his late mom, John allowed himself to feel — and to heal — in front of the world. The magic they created and the class with which they carried themselves had fans and experts alike calling them the best American hope in years. With their four year partnership reaching a new level of confidence, things looked good headed towards Sochi. At least from my place on the couch!

The two announced their decision to go separate ways not long after their sixth place finish at Worlds.

Denney, with partner Jeremy Barrett, led the US Pairs team to Vancouver

Denney, on the other hand, had her own magical season last year, bursting to a national title with then-partner Jeremy Barrett, and earning the top spot on the Olympic team. This season had its growing pains. They were often overshadowed by Yankowskas and Coughlin. They were overtaken by former teammates Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig at Nationals, and just missed another trip to Worlds.

(By the way, Evora/Ladwig are still together…so far.)

Denney is known for her larger-than-life personality and her tenacity on the ice that earned her a comparison to a cat from commentator Peter Caruthers — no matter the air position, she manages to nail difficult throws. Most of the time. Not so much this season. And with the consistency went the personality, it seemed.

She and Barrett announced their partnership’s end after a freak injury took them out of the 4 Continents event.

So. All in all, we have Caydee’s moxie joining with John’s heart in an attempt to makes something more of themselves. Meanwhile, Caitlin is looking like the kid who drew the short straw. Of course, we don’t know the details of the split in the first place, but it does beg the question, why ditch the thing that was working?

While we’re playing swap the partner, wouldn’t it be something if Caitlin ended up with Rockne Brubaker? Just throwing it out there…

What do you think? Is this a good move for Caydee and John?

Who would you like to see Caitlin end up skating with?

Let me know on twitter: @fromtheboards

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One Response to “The shift is on: Denney/Coughlin pair up”

  1. […] followed by the current national champions splitting up (with one looking strongly at retirement)? You get one new coach, a new super pair, and one national champion without a partner to defend her … Awkward, maybe. But potentially […]


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