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U.S. Figure Skating Championships preview: Pairs

The pairs will take to the ice on Thursday, January 9 for the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. It will not only be exciting to see who will make the Olympic Team, but it will also be interesting to see some of the new up and coming pairs teams. So who should you watch out for at the pairs event? Let’s take a look:

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin of the USA perform in the Paris Free Skating during day two of Trophee Eric Bompard ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2013/2014 at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy on November 16, 2013 in Paris, France.
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are the reigning U.S. Champions and they are back this year to defend their title. Castelli and Shnapir has been skating together since 2006 and came in sixth at Skate America this season, and fourth at NHK. They have a lot of height on their throw jumps, yet nerves do seem to get the best of them at times. With the pressure of defending their title and trying to earn a spot on the Olympic Team, it will be interesting to see how they do.

Another strong team that are on the hunt for a spot on the Olympic Team is Caydee Denney and John Coughlin. This team has only been together since 2011, yet in 2012 they won the gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. John struggled with a hip injury last season, so they were unable to compete at last year’s nationals. Now is their chance to get their title back and make the Olympic Team.

Capturing the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships silver medal was Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim. They are another team that has not been together for very long as they just started skating together in April of 2012. They made quite the splash at their first nationals, so expectations are high for them. They came in ninth at the 2013 World Championships so hopefully they can keep it together for this event.

Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay won the bronze medal at the 2013 Championships. They could very well end up in the mix as they are a strong team with a lot of potential.

Another team on the rise is Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff. They are a beautiful team and came in fourth place at the 2012 nationals and landed in sixth in last year’s nationals. This season they have won the Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Slovakia, and the Ice Challenge in Austria. It has been a strong start to their season, so it will be great to see them competing at nationals again this year.

2013 junior world champions, Haven Denney and Brandon Franzier will also be contenders this year. Haven Denney is the sister of Caydee Denney, so both sisters will be competing in this event. Haven and Brandon came in fifth at the 2013 Championships so they are looking to move up a couple of spots this time around.

These pairs teams have been training hard all year for this event and their hard work will be put to the test along with their mental strength to harness their nerves. NBC and the Ice Network will be airing the U.S. Championships, so be sure to check your local listings and stay tuned.