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Fields, Pacini pace junior pairs at Challenge Skate

Shaughnessy, Morgan sit second; Fujimoto, Barsi-Rhyne place third

Caitlin Fields and Jason Pacini are in total control of the junior pairs competition.
Caitlin Fields and Jason Pacini are in total control of the junior pairs competition. (Jay Adeff)

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By Mimi Whetstone, special to icenetwork.com
(09/14/2012) - Caitlin Fields and Jason Pacini skated a clean program to win the junior pairs short Friday in Salt Lake City.

"I think we accomplished the levels we wanted to on our elements," Fields said. "Our score is a new personal best for us, and we're very excited about it."

The pair flawlessly completed its elements, which included a throw triple Salchow, back outside death spiral and back press lift, all of which are required elements this year.

"We've been hitting those elements pretty hard," Pacini said. "It's a big jump from novice to junior, technically speaking. We're really focusing on getting all the levels."

The duo's up-beat short program to "Sing, Sang, Sung" earned a total score of 45.22 points, nearly 10 points above the rest of the field.

"It's a great score for them," coach Doug Ladret said. "If you look at the protocols from the pairs event at the Junior Grand Prix in Austria right now, there were eight teams that didn't get any points for the back outside death spiral. Obviously, with this point total, they got at least the base mark for that particular element. I think they showed they're a force to be reckoned with this year."

Sitting in second are Alexandra Shaughnessy and James Morgan, whose short program to "Harlem Nocturne" earned a total score of 35.77 points.

"We've been working a lot on our lifts and getting our twist bigger for this year," Morgan said. "We had a couple of obvious mistakes today, but it's still really early in the season."

After a fall from Shaughnessy on the side-by-side double Axels, the duo leads the third-place team by less than a point.

"Right now, we're just happy to be here," Shaughnessy said. "We want to get our programs out there and keep working to improve. We're definitely looking forward to the long program."

Cali Fujimoto and Nick Barsi-Rhyne head into Sunday's free skate in third place, after earning 35.01 points for their short program.

"We made a few little mistakes that we'll need to work on," Fujimoto said. "But overall, we're feeling pretty good."

Performing to music from West Side Story, Fujimoto and Barsi-Rhyne skated first, opening the junior pairs event for the competition.

"There's such a team atmosphere here, more than any other competition," Barsi-Rhyne said. "It's great to be able to watch the senior teams. It really motivates us to go our best."