It did not look good for reigning U.S. champions Timothy LeDuc and his pairs figure skating partner Ashley Cain-Gribble last week, after costly mistakes knocked them out of contention for top honors. What a difference from this week in 2019, when the openly gay skater and his partner won the U.S. Pairs figure skating championship.
But by Sunday night, their fears were dashed: LeDuc and Cain-Gribble are headed to Montreal in March to represent the U.S. at the World Championship.
As Dallas Voice reported, their uncharacteristic errors on the ice during Thursday’s short program left them languishing in third place. On Saturday afternoon, resolved to defend their title in the final Pairs competition, they once again fell victim to mistakes and finished in fourth place.
Typically, spots on the world team are determined by the top finishers at Nationals. But instead of selecting the silver and bronze finalists, U.S. Figure Skating officials chose the Dallas-based team of LeDuc and Cain-Gribble.
LeDuc posted a thank you to their coaches, family and fans, on Facebook.
“Hey everyone thank you for the love and support this last week! Ashley and I are very grateful and humbled to be named to the World Championship team and to continue to progress this season. We didn’t have the Nationals we wanted or trained for, but we’re learning that Champions weather the storm and don’t give up.
“Many thanks to our coaches for their hard work!
“And shout out to my v cool fam for their unconditional coolness.”
See you at Worlds. pic.twitter.com/QmzF97OpZB— U.S. Figure Skating (@USFigureSkating) January 27, 2020
LeDuc and Cain-Gribble displaced Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson despite what NBC Sports called their breakthrough moment, “one of the most memorable free skates in the last 20 years.” Calalang and Johnson received a score of 146.01, the highest ever at nationals, for a program that had the crowd out of its seats before it even ended.
Calalang and Johnson are scheduled to take part at Four Continents next month in Seoul, South Korea, where they can only hope to better impress U.S. Figure Skating’s International Selection Committee.
Another surprising outcome at nationals, according to Dallas Voice: out U.S. figure skater Amber Glenn’s free skate landed her in fifth place, but USFS still advanced Glenn to the U.S. ladies team. She also will compete at the international Four Continents Championships. Glenn came out as bisexual/pansexual last month.
The biggest honor of #USChamps20 was waving a rainbow flag for two outstanding queer athletes. I’m incredibly grateful for all @AmberGlenn_ and Timothy LeDuc are doing for queer visibility and representation (and thanks @JasonKashdan for capturing this shot!) pic.twitter.com/DIaUxywLkz— Patrick (@team_pdd) January 27, 2020