40. Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc USA + Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay USA
2017 U.S. Championships short program
I said no repeat skaters but I never said each one of my top 50 has to be one program, right? There are a lot of similarities about these two pairs at the 2017 U.S. Championships. Four skaters with comeback stories, each a little different but all equally inspiring. And both pairs stormed onto the national championship stage with such force that some even forgot about all the hemming and hawing about the state of U.S. pairs.
Ashley Cain skated pairs before but had been in singles for the past few seasons, and struggled quite a bit last year. Timothy LeDuc was out of competitive skating altogether since the last Olympic season, skating shows on a cruise ship. Deanna Stellato last got on U.S. Championship ice in 2000 (!) and retired after a slew of injuries. Nathan Bartholomay was a 2014 Olympian but have no found the same success since.
But in late January in Kansas City, they all came back to the U.S. Championships, and both pairs with less than a year of experience skating together. And they got the audience on their feet with clean short programs that put Cain/LeDuc first and Stellato/Bartholomay third. The U.S. pairs scene may be inconsistent, but the talent and desire are there.