Pairs skater Brubaker will sit out season

11th-hour attempt to find new partner falls through

Rockne Brubaker and Mary Beth Marley in practice.  (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)

Rockne Brubaker and Mary Beth Marley in practice. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune / November 22, 2010)

It will be a lost figure skating season for two-time U.S. pairs champion Rockne Brubaker of Algonquin.

"I'll be sitting out this season," Brubaker told me in a Saturday email.

Brubaker's skating future became uncertain when his partner of the past two years, Mary Beth Marley of Downers Grove, decided in late August to leave the sport.

An 11th-hour tryout with Amanda Evora, who had announced her retirement last spring but obviously had a change of heart, did not wind up in a partnership for logistical reasons, according to Brubaker.

He and Evora had to decide by Saturday whether they would team up to meet a U.S. Figure Skating deadline for national championship qualifying competitions.

"Neither of us can move," Brubaker said.

Brubaker lives and works in Southern California.  Evora has an apartment and job in Florida.

Brubaker, 26, won the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Championships with Keauna McLaughlin.  She retired after their poor performance at the 2010 Olympic trials.

He paired with Marley, now 17, in late summer of 2010.  They finished fourth at the 2011 nationals and second last year, earning a place at worlds, where they finished 10th.

U.S. Figure Skating announced Aug. 14 that Marley was leaving competitive skating.

"We had made great strides in the two months after worlds, but as we started getting ready for the season, it was apparent Mary Beth was struggling with the pressure and the work load," Brubaker said.  "There were times when she wasn't happy.

"Even so, I was still surprised when she decided to stop.  We were trying to work through things."

A message left with Marley last week was not returned.

Brubaker did a three-day tryout with Evora Aug. 22-24.  He said they had worked well together.

While missing the year before the Olympics compromises Brubaker's chances of getting to Sochi in 2014, the overall level of U.S. pairs skating is so mediocre it would not be impossible for him to get back in the running with a new partner.

 

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