BOSTON -- Will there be a bump in the night that creates controversy when U.S. Figure Skating announces Sunday which two pairs it is sending to the 2014 Olympics?
It will be pretty much a tempest in a domestic teapot, given the low standing of U.S. pairs in international competition.
Given the nonspecific nature of the USFS Olympic selection rules, it is possible Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, who took second overall after Saturday afternoon's free skate at the U.S. championships, could be bumped in favor of Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, who finished third by .29 but have a more impressive international record.
Coughlin seemed resigned to the idea that wasn't going to happen. That he and Denney, who won the free skate, could not defend their 2012 U.S. title or compete at worlds last year because of his injury may be a large factor in the selection committee's decision.
"We rolled through the Grand Prix season and had a career best at the U.S. championships," Coughlin said. "I'm not going to be complaining."
Despite three significant mistakes, including a fall, in the free skate, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir held on to most of the 6.63-point lead they built in the short program to win a second straight U.S. title. They wound up with 205.71 points and a margin of 3.99 over Zhang and Bartholomay, who did the only clean free skate of the top four teams.
There should be no doubt about the selection of the three U.S. ice dance teams for Sochi after reigning world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White won a record sixth national title Saturday with a record U.S. championships score of 200.19 and a nearly 19-point margin over Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani were third.
They clearly have been the three best U.S. dance teams for two seasons.
Skating to Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," Davis and White finished the four-minute free dance with 20 seconds of striking athleticism and power, defying mental and physical fatigue. White said the ability to do that comes from being pushed "every second" by their coach, Marina Zoueva.
"We kick our butts every day on and off the ice," White said. "A big part of it is mental. A lot of people have it in them to do it but you need someone to get it out of you."
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