Once again my good friend and I are on the road to the Liberty competition taking place in Aston, PA where almost 1000 entries were received and I have it on good authority that about 800 will in fact take their place at center ice.

On the slate for today (in between stops at the ubiquitous and very tempting shopping malls and Target locations) were the senior pairs short including the new partnership Caydee Denney and John Coughlin. Each of these skaters are national champions with other partners and it would seem that putting them together would make a lot of sense. The funny thing is that on paper is one thing but in reality can be something quite different. In the case of Denney and Coughlin – think better. I know that there is the temptation to compare these two together with each of their former partners. I wouldn’t bother only because they are beautifully suited and seemingly very comfortable and did I mention talented?? (Their triple twist is as good as anyone else’s anywhere 🙂  )

John talked about returning from Worlds and was ready to walk away from skating. He spoke with Dalilah Sappenfield (his coach) about maybe starting to coach. She asked him to hold on for just a little bit because she had an idea that he should try out with Cadey. “There is no accident that Caydee and I got together. I think my (late) Mom was looking out for me.” This statement is accompanied by a warm and engaging smile from John who continues by saying “Caydee was the one person who would have been able to have me continue in skating.”  Both skaters showed real promise in their debut here with a short program choreographed by coach Dalilah who said that she knew that they would be able to get the “tricks” once they got their timing down.

Aside from the 3 Twist, they also had beautiful side by side 3 Toes and a great throw triple Lutz.  The free program was choreographed by Marina Zoueva to a version of Nessun Dorma which includes selections from Vanessa Mae and Jeff Beck. John says wryly that Marina doesn’t believe in transitions that would be easy for pair skaters and has them doing various hand holds and changes of position. “It’s a tough program – especially the transitions” he says.

Catching former Canadian champion and World silver medallist Lyndon Johnston who was in the building at the boards for another up and coming US team – Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay  had this to say: “I think the pair’s field can be summed up in one word : Exciting!”

Caydee Denney is a young woman living in the moment but with her eye on the future: “I have talked a lot about pushing towards Sochi but also want to enjoy the process along the way.”

With their first outing out of the way, they can settle in and continue to develop their potential which they have in boatloads. Keeping in mind that they have only really been working for under 2 months – it will be wonderful to see what they will be able to do given more time.

With a smile on his face, John Coughlin says: “I am very happy and very blessed.”

If I said it once – I’ll say it again – the pairs will be taking centre stage this upcoming season.

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