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Sunday, January 29, 2012
Coughlin, Denney rally to win pairs title at U.S. nationals

By Michelle Smith

SAN JOSE -- John Coughlin and Caydee Denney had each won national titles before Sunday, and now they have won another, together.

Coughlin and Denney came from behind to capture the pairs event at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with a nearly flawless skate. Rockne Brubaker and Mary Beth Marley, who were leading after the short program, had a pair of early stumbles in their free skate and ended up with silver.

Coughlin and Denney landed six jumps and throws in their free skate set to "Nessun Dorma" by Puccini. They finished with a long lift around the ice as the crowd cheered, a reaction that brought obvious elation to their faces.

"We got to the carry and I could feel the crowd and I really had to block it out because it's a high-risk thing," Coughlin said. "We almost forgot to bow ... It was how we wished it would be and dreaming how it would be. I've never felt anything like that."

They won with a score of 189.70. Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig finished with the bronze after winning silver the past two years.

"We had a blast," Coughlin said. "We wanted it so bad after the short and I smiled really big and she looked at me said 'Stay focused' and I said 'Yes, ma'am.'"

Coughlin won the national title last year with partner Caitlin Yankowskas, but the pair split up just weeks later as he considered retirement. Denney won the 2010 national title with partner Jeremy Barnett, but the two were involved in a training accident. Barnett, who was cut by Denney's skate blade in the calf and needed 41 stitches, decided to retire.

Coughlin and Denney formed their partnership in Colorado 13 days after Coughlin called it quits with Yankowskas. Their best finish in the fall was third place at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.

Denney's sister, Haven, was also a winner, taking home the junior pairs title with partner Brandon Frazier.