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New, clean short program lifts pair

David O’Shea and Tarah Kayne have the only clean short program among top pairs to sit first at the U.S. championships.

Associated Press

David O’Shea and Tarah Kayne have the only clean short program among top pairs to sit first at the U.S. championships.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea led the pairs competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday with a short program that's just a month old.

Thursday was the first time they'd performed to Take Me to Church, and the 2015 U.S. bronze medalists had the only clean program among the contenders on a day full of falls and flubs.

"We started as soon as we could and happy we did," O'Shea said.

Kayne and O'Shea, who finished third last year to miss out on a trip to the world championships, skated last and scored 69.61 points. The defending champs, Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim, were second with 67.35 points after Knierim tumbled on their side-by-side triple salchows while skating to Metallica.

"We're disappointed in our program," Scimeca said. "But we're optimistic and looking forward to the free program. It's a close point difference between the top three, and we know if we throw down a great long, we'll be fine."

Marissa Castelli, who won two national titles with former partner Simon Shnapir, was in third with new partner Mervin Tran at 64.12 points after she doubled their side-by-side triple salchows.

The free skate is Saturday.

Scimeca and Knierim finished seventh at the 2015 world championships, the best placement by a U.S. pair at worlds or the Olympics since 2011. This season they qualified for December's Grand Prix Final, the first American pair to do so since 2007, and finished in seventh and last place.

The women skated their short program late Thursday. The competition wasn't over at press time. Get the results at tampabay.com/sports.

The major women's contenders are all back, including defending champion Ashley Wagner and 2014 champion Gracie Gold.

Information from NBC Sports was used in this report.

New, clean short program lifts pair 01/21/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2016 9:52pm]
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