No rally for McLaughlin-Brubaker, who miss Olympics
Failing to rally after a seventh place in Friday's short program, two-time U.S. pairs champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker (pictured above) were left clinging to only the faintest hope they would earn one of the two Olympic spots Saturday.
"This isn't going to take luck; it's going to take a miracle,'' said John Nicks, who coaches McLaughlin and Brubaker, after they wound up fifth overall with a fifth in a flawed free skate.
There was none. The top two finishers, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett and their Ellenton, Fla., training partners, Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, are going to Vancouver next month. Denney and Barrett were an easy choice, earning the trip after an impressive free skate without any errors. They won both the short program and free skate.
The other place was in the hands of U.S. Figure Skating's international committee, which would be weighing past performances at events like the world championships and Grand Prix final to make the decision.
It was sure to some cause controversy, given the lack of any impressive international results for Evora and Ladwig.
Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, who finished third despite a better free skate than Evora and Ladwig, already were braced for disappointment.
"I think they (USFS) already made their decision when they scored like this,'' Baldwin said. "It's shocking."
Inoue and Baldwin trailed by less than a point after the short program. They finished 0.6 from second.
They were seventh in the 2006 Olympics and had been the leading U.S. pairs team internationally much of the last five years.
-- Philip Hersh, reporting from Spokane, Wash.
Photo: Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker. Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press