Friday, August 1, 2014

U.S. pairs skaters Denney and Coughlin are headliners

Of Saturday’s Sun Valley on Ice performance

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley will extend a warm welcome to U.S. pair skaters John Coughlin and Caydee Denney, who will headline Saturday’s Sun Valley on Ice. Courtesy photo

     Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, the 2012 U.S. pairs figure skating champions, know firsthand that injuries are part of the challenge of competitive figure skating.

     On June 24, they announced they will not compete in the upcoming 2014-15 figure skating season as Denney continues to rehabilitate a right ankle injury suffered in March.

     They also withdrew from the 2013 national championships after Coughlin underwent surgery to repair a hip injury.

     A pairs skating team for three years, they are grateful for the chance to perform in ice shows as a way of building up their strength and resolve so they can return to competition.

     They performed for the first time since Denney’s injury in the Lake Placid (N.Y.) Ice Show on Saturday, July 12. And they will take another step toward regaining their form this weekend on the Sun Valley ice.

     Denney and Coughlin are the headliners for the Sun Valley on Ice performance on Saturday, Aug. 2 at Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink.

     They are a last-minute replacement for 2014 U.S. pairs silver medalists Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, who announced the end of their three-year partnership in July.

     Ironically, it was Zhang and Bartholomay who replaced Denney and Coughlin as U.S. representatives to the 2014 ISU World Figure Skating Championships March 24-30 in Japan.

     You could say American pairs skating is in flux. Yet Denney and Coughlin are battling to provide stability to the fluctuating state of U.S. pairs.

     Denney and Coughlin placed third at the U.S. Championships in January and didn’t make the two-pair U.S. Olympic team. Denney had placed 13th at the 2010 Olympics with former partner Jeremy Barrett—the same year they won the national title. They split up and she teamed with Coughlin in May of 2011.

     Although they didn’t make this year’s Olympics, Denney and Coughlin were assigned to compete in the 2014 World Championships. But Denney suffered her ankle injury in stateside practice March 19 and they had to withdraw—replaced in Japan by first U.S. alternates Zhang-Bartholomay.

     Then, the top U.S. pair from the Sochi Olympics, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, announced their split in May. The 2013-14 U.S. pairs champions had placed ninth in the Olympics and 11th at worlds.

     It left Denney and Coughlin as the top ranking U.S. pair, which makes their year of recovery all the more vital. They are now teaching and coaching, and also plan to perform in New York in September.

     Denney, 21, is a 5-1 dynamo from Ocala, Fla. Coughlin, 28, the son of a policeman from Kansas City, Mo., was a national champion with Caitlin Yankowskas in 2011. He is the part-time operations specialist at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Co. where he and Caydee are training.

     Rounding out the headliners for the 78th summer of the Sun Valley Ice Show:

     · Saturday, Aug. 9—Two-time defending U.S. skating queen Ashley Wagner. Rising star Nathan Chen joins her.

     · Saturday, Aug. 16—Johnny Weir, 29, the 2008 world bronze medalist and three-time U.S. men’s king (2004-06). Weir is also joined by Chen.

     · Saturday, Aug. 23—Two-time world champion and six-time U.S. winners Meryl Davis, 27, and Charlie White, 26, from Michigan. They became the first American ice dancers to win Olympic gold at Sochi, Russia this past February.

     · Saturday, Aug. 30—The Labor Day weekend finale stars Evan Lysacek, 29, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist and 2007-08 U.S. king. He was the world champion five years ago.

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