Pair pursue happy return - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Passport to Gold 2010

Pair pursue happy return

McLaughlin and Brubaker have been a hit from the start. (Photo: File / The Spokesman-Review) McLaughlin and Brubaker have been a hit from the start. (Photo: File / The Spokesman-Review)

Dave Trimmer
The Spokesman-Review

Forgive Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker if they're a little giddy about skating in Spokane.

They departed the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships here as the Junior Pairs champions in their first year together.

They step on the ice at the Arena this weekend as two-time defending senior champions, favorites to grab gold en route to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next month.

"I can't wait to go back there," said McLaughlin, who has family driving over from Seattle. "I think it's kind of cool that we did start off our career there as juniors and we had a great experience. … I'm excited to see the turnout with the Olympic hype."

And that wasn't even the pinnacle of a first season because they won every competition they entered including the World Juniors, only the fourth Americans to win that title.

"I think sometimes it's hard to put a name or label on certain things," Brubaker said of their chemistry. "When Keauna and I started skating together in the spring of 2006, in the first 5, 10 minutes of skating we knew there was something about it."

From there it was senior gold in 2008, when they became the first pair to win consecutive junior and senior championships in 51 years, and 2009.

After the first senior gold they couldn't compete at the worlds because McLaughlin, now 17, was too young for seniors and Brubaker, 23, was too old for juniors.


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