Katie Orscher and Garrett Lucash won their first pairs title Friday at the US Figure Skating Championships.
And unlike the last couple of years, when the winners were champions only because everyone else was worse, Orscher and Lucash actually deserve the title.
"The last practice before we came here, I got off the ice and I put my head in my hands, saying to myself, `I'm not going to make it,' because I was so sick," said Lucash, who ran a temperature of 102 degrees last weekend. "So the way I felt that day, and then to come here and survive and get through the program was a lot."
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto won their second straight title in ice dance, getting 6.0s across the board for presentation. It was the first time any skater at nationals earned perfect marks from all nine judges.
Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano had each gotten eight for artistry.
Skating to "Samson and Delilah," Orscher and Lucash attacked each element, determined to win their first title. Their throw triple flip was so strong, she hung suspended in the air as if a wire was pulling her from above. She traveled so far on their throw triple salchow she could have gotten frequent flier miles.
Their lifts were equally impressive, with good speed coming and going and intricate positions. On one, she did a hand stand on his knees, then bent her legs back over her head in a trick that some gymnasts wouldn't dare -- and they have a soft mat beneath them, not a sheet of solid ice.
Their only mistake was a minor one, as he two-footed the landing of their second side-by-side triple toe loop jumps.
As for the rest of the competition, let's just say the Russians and Chinese won't spend much time worrying about the Americans. John Baldwin and Rena Inoue, who won last year despite skating so poorly they'd thought they cost themselves a spot on the world team, had several small errors. He two-footed and under-rotated his side-by-side triple lutz, and she two-footed the throw triple salchow.