May 20, 2013 Updated: May 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm
What little offseason there is in figure skating is long finished for 2012 U.S. national pairs champions John Coughlin and Caydee Denney.
"The time off for the injury was our offseason," Coughlin said recently. "We have been working full-time now to be ready for the coming season and getting ready for (the 2014) nationals."
The pair skipped the 2013 U.S. national championships after it was determined Coughlin required surgery to repair a torn hip labrum.
The surgery in December 2012 was a success, Coughlin said recently. After nine weeks away from the ice, the duo went back to work full-time at the World Arena Ice Hall to prepare for international events this fall.
The U.S. championships Jan.?5-12, 2014 in Boston determine the two Olympic berths in Sochi, Russia.
Coughlin said his hip is "100 percent healthy." He credited the U.S. Olympic Training Center sports medicine staff for their rehabilitation work.
With their bodies rested, the duo is focused on taking a step forward as Olympic contenders. They are hopeful they have found their championship-caliber short and free skate programs thanks to well-regarded choreographer Julie Marcotte of Montreal.
"What makes Julie such a special choreographer is that she understands how to pace the time between jumps so the program is both exciting and artistic," Coughlin said.
"We are very happy to be working with her," Denney said. "She is very creative and has so much energy. That shows in her choreography."
Their short program is set to the music of the animated movie "Anastasia" with Denney in the role of the famed Romanov princess.
"I think the connection to Russia will help the crowds really enjoy the program," Denney said.
The free skate is set to another movie, "Casablanca."
"That is another iconic movie a lot of people will recognize and enjoy," Denney said.
The duo hopes their third season together will produce a breakout year. Despite the time apart, The Broadmoor Skating Club-based pair slipped into a comfort zone moments into their first practice back.
"It was like we had never been apart," Coughlin said. "We are feeling very good about where we are at this time of year."