19-08-28 WD cain and leduc, mugs@.jpg

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, the reigning U.S. pairs skating champions, will headline the seventh and final Sun Valley on Ice performance of the 2019 summer season on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink.

Sun Valley on Ice’s Labor Day weekend show on Saturday, Aug. 31, features the 2019 U.S. National pairs skating champions, 24-year-old Ashley Cain-Gribble from Texas and Timothy LeDuc, 29, from Iowa.

They’ve already had a memorable year personally and professionally, and they’re planning for a busy fall with competitions at Salt Lake City, Utah; Las Vegas, Nev.; and France from September through November.

Pairs skating partners since 2016, Cain and LeDuc placed third in the U.S. Championships in 2017 and fourth in 2018. They were alternates for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Cain, from Coppell, Texas, hails from a skating family. Her father, Peter, competed for Australia in pairs at the 1980 Olympics, and her mother, Darlene, skated for Canada in ice dance. She first skated at age 2, and competed at 4.

LeDuc, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, started in Learn To Skate and didn’t have private lessons until he was nearly 14. Both LeDuc and Cain were strongly influenced by watching the American skaters in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah.

2019 has been a pivotal year in their careers and partnership.

Second after the short program in Detroit this past January, Cain and LeDuc had the free skate of their lives for 141.89 points to win the national title with a 212.36 score.

Cain, who had suffered a concussion only six weeks before

nationals, became the only U.S.

skater to win national pairs titles

at the Novice, Junior and Senior level.

And LeDuc became the first openly gay competitor to win a U.S. national pairs title.

The lone U.S. pair competing at the 2019 World Championships in Saitama, Japan, during March, they had one main objective for their first world competition.

Cain and LeDuc needed to finish within the top 10 to regain the second spot for the U.S. at worlds for the first time since 2017. The U.S. had been able to send just one pairs team to the 2018 Winter Olympics and to 2018 and 2019 world meets.

Ninth after the short program, Cain and LeDuc nailed down the ninth-place overall finish with a total of 193.81, which was 17 points better than the 10th-place team. It was the best finish at worlds for a U.S. pairs skating team since 2016.

LeDuc said afterward that they had accomplished their preseason goals if medaling in the Grand Prix, winning the national pairs championships and going to worlds and regaining a second spot for the U.S. at the 2020 world finals.

This past June 1, Cain married Dalton Gribble at The Nest at Ruth Farms in Ponder, Texas.

For the 2019-20 International Skating Union Grand Prix, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc were selected to compete at Skate America on Oct. 18-20 at Las Vegas. They will skate in the U.S. International Classic on Sept. 17-22 at Salt Lake City.

Entering their fourth season together as partners, the pairs team will skate in the Internationaux de France on Nov. 1-3 in Grenoble, France.

Their short program music for 2019-20 is “A Storm Is Coming,” by Tommee Profitt featuring Liv Ash. Free skate music is “Experience,” by Ludovico Einaudi with music from the “Moonlight” soundtrack.

Saturday’s 70-minute show complete with the entertaining Sun Valley on Ice ensemble numbers begins at 8:45 p.m.

Tickets are on sale at 208-622-2135 or online through ticketfly.com or at sunvalley.com. Grandstand show-only tickets range from $69-$99, or $49 for youths 12 and under.

Email the writer: sports@mtexpress.com

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