A day for comeback kids pairs at U.S. Figure Skating championships

It was an afternoon for four comeback kids in the pairs competition at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships to shine.

Except one of those kids -- who had returned to pairs after time away from the sport -- is 33, another 27, another 26 and the youngest, 21.

And that made their comeback skates Thursday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City even more striking. Especially since both couples involved -- Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, and Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nathan Bartholomay -- began their partnerships less than eight months ago.

The oldest of the group, Stellato-Dudek, had never skated pairs until then.

"Certain things in pairs don't relate at all to singles skating," Stellato-Dudek said. "It was like you were a really good pitcher and retired for 16 years and came back as a first baseman."

She had, in fact, been away from skating for 16 years after her singles career ended in 2001.

Cain, 21, who dropped pairs after 2012 to concentrate on singles, and LeDuc, 26, a show skater on cruise ships the past two years, won the short program with 69.33 points for a program that included impressive side-by-side triple loop jumps.

Stellato-Dudek and Bartholomay -- a 2014 Olympian who was out of competition last season -- were third at 65.04. They stand a whisker behind favored Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, who achieved 65.39 points, with Denney putting a hand down on the throw triple loop landing and stepping out of her landing on a side-by-side triple salchow.

Denney and Frazier are also making a more traditional kind of comeback: They missed last season after she underwent knee surgery.

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