John Coughlin (figure skater)

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John Patrick Coughlin
2011 Skate America Caydee DENNEY John COUGHLIN 3.jpg
Denney and Coughlin in 2011
Personal information
Country represented United States
Born(1985-12-01)December 1, 1985
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
DiedJanuary 18, 2019(2019-01-18) (aged 33)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S
Height1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Former partner
CoachDalilah Sappenfield, Larry Ibarra
Former coachLei'Ina McLaughlin, Becky Bradley, Jeff Digregorio, Ron Ludington, Jeremy Allen
ChoreographerJulie Marcotte, Christopher Dean
Former choreographerMarina Zueva, Damon Allen, Zuzanna Szwed, Dalilah Sappenfield, Jill Casgrove
Skating clubKansas City FSC
Training locationsColorado Springs, Colorado
Began skating1989
RetiredJuly 29, 2015
ISU personal best scores
Combined total185.42
2012 Four Continents
Short program63.52
2013 Trophée Eric Bompard
Free skate122.07
2012 Four Continents

John Patrick Coughlin (December 1, 1985 – January 18, 2019) was an American pair skater. With Caydee Denney, he was the 2012 Four Continents silver medalist and 2012 U.S. national champion. With previous partner Caitlin Yankowskas, he was the 2011 U.S. champion.

After Coughlin's death by suicide in January 2019, news emerged that he had been under investigation for sexually assaulting skating partners.[1][2][3]

Early life and family[edit]

Coughlin was born in Kansas City, Missouri.[4] He was the son of a third-generation police officer.[5] His mother, Stacy, died in February 2010 due to a chronic illness.[6] He had a sister, Angela Laune.[7]


Early years[edit]

Coughlin began skating at the age of six. Early in his career, Coughlin competed with Krista Smith, Kelsey Parker, and Lucy Galleher. He teamed up with Bridget Namiotka in late 2004.[8] They were the 2006 junior national silver medalists. They announced the end of their partnership on July 3, 2007.[9]

Partnership with Yankowskas[edit]

Dalilah Sappenfield suggested Caitlin Yankowskas as a potential partner and they had a tryout in early August 2007.[10] Yankowskas/Coughlin trained under Sappenfield in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[11] They placed sixth at the 2008 U.S. Championships and made their Grand Prix debut at the 2008 Skate America.[12][13]

During the 2010–11 season, their Ave Maria long program was a tribute to Coughlin's mother who died in February 2010.[14] They finished fourth at 2010 NHK Trophy and won the first Grand Prix medal, bronze, at Cup of China. At the 2011 U.S. Nationals, they placed first in the short program[15] and then won the free program to earn their first national title.[16]

In April 2011, Yankowskas/Coughlin placed sixth in their debut at the World Championships. It was the best result by an American pair since 2006.[17] On May 4, however, the pair announced that their partnership had ended.[17][18][19]

Partnership with Denney[edit]

2011–2012 season[edit]

On May 17, 2011, Coughlin announced that he had teamed up with Caydee Denney.[20][21] They trained under coach Sappenfield at the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado Springs.[20] Denney and Coughlin had a height differential of 14 inches (36 cm).[22] They made their competitive debut at the Liberty Summer competition in July 2011, winning the short program.[23] At the Nebelhorn Trophy they won the bronze medal. They were assigned to the 2011 Skate America and 2011 NHK Trophy, where they placed fourth and fifth respectively.[24]

Denney/Coughlin went on to win the 2012 US Championships and were assigned to Four Continents and Worlds. They won the silver medal at the 2012 Four Continents[25] and placed eighth at 2012 Worlds.[26]

2012–2013 season[edit]

Denney/Coughlin made their season debut at the 2012 Nebelhorn Trophy, winning the silver medal.[27] They won bronze medals at both of their Grand Prix assignments, the 2012 Skate America[28] and the 2012 Rostelecom Cup. On December 4, 2012, Coughlin underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.[29][30] As a result, the pair missed the 2013 U.S. Championships but they submitted a petition to be considered for the U.S. team to the 2013 World Championships.[31] They were named in the U.S. team to the event but decided not to compete.[32][33] Coughlin was off the ice for about nine weeks.[34]

2013–2014 season[edit]

Denney/Coughlin won silver at the 2013 U.S. Classic, placed fourth at the 2013 Skate America, and won bronze at the 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard. They took the bronze medal at the 2014 U.S. Championships, finishing behind champions Marissa Castelli / Simon Shnapir and silver medalists Felicia Zhang / Nathan Bartholomay, whose total score was greater by 0.29 of a point. Denney/Coughlin did not receive one of the two American spots in the pairs' event at the 2014 Winter Olympics but were assigned to the 2014 World Championships.[35] They withdrew due to Denney's right ankle injury, sustained in practice on March 19.[36] Denney was expected to return to training after eight to twelve weeks.[36] In June 2014, the pair stated they would not compete in the 2014–15 season.[37]

Sexual assault allegations, skating suspension, and death[edit]

Coughlin was found dead from suicide by hanging on January 18, 2019, one day after being suspended from figure skating for unspecified allegations.[1][2] On December 17, 2018, the U.S. Center for SafeSport listed his name with the note "Interim Measure – Restriction", following allegations that Coughlin denied.[38] He subsequently resigned as U.S. brand manager for John Wilson Blades.[7] On January 17, 2019, after SafeSport had changed Coughlin's status to "interim suspension", U.S. Figure Skating suspended him.[39] The following afternoon, police were dispatched to his father's home in Kansas City following a report of a suicide. The department confirmed Coughlin's manner of death to be suicide.[7] The incident report stated that he hanged himself.[40]

In February 2019, SafeSport closed the investigation, saying that "[the Center] cannot advance an investigation when no potential threat exists."[41]

In May 2019, in a Facebook post, former skating partner Bridget Namiotka accused Coughlin of sexually abusing her over a period of two years during the mid-2000s.[3] She had skated with him while she was between the ages of 14 and 17. He was four years older than she was.[42][3]

In July 2019, former US ladies' champion and World silver medalist Ashley Wagner reported that Coughlin had sexually assaulted her in 2008 at a US national team training camp.[43]


With Denney[edit]

Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
  • Summertime Fantasy
    (from American Idol)

With Yankowskas[edit]

Season Short program Free skating
  • The Swan
    by Camille Saint-Saëns
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula
    by Wojciech Kilar

With Namiotka[edit]

Season Short program Free skating
  • Pearl Harbor
    by Hans Zimmer
  • Freedom
    by Michael W. Smith
  • Time to Say Good Bye

  • Disco Firebird
  • The Prince of Egypt
    by Hans Zimmer

Competitive highlights[edit]

With Denney[edit]

Event 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14
World Champ. 8th WD WD
Four Continents Champ. 2nd
GP NHK Trophy 5th
GP Rostelecom Cup 3rd
GP Skate America 4th 3rd 4th
GP Trophée Éric Bompard 3rd
Nebelhorn Trophy 3rd 2nd
U.S. Classic 2nd
U.S. Championships 1st WD 3rd
Team events
World Team Trophy 2nd T
(4th P)
WD = Withdrew
T = Team result; P = Personal result;
Medals awarded for team result only.

With Yankowskas[edit]

Yankowskas and Coughlin in 2009
Event 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
World Champ. 6th
Four Continents Champ. 4th 4th
GP Cup of China 3rd
GP NHK Trophy 4th
GP Skate America 6th
GP Skate Canada 7th
Ice Challenge 1st
Nebelhorn Trophy 6th
U.S. Championships 6th 7th 6th 1st
Midwestern Sectionals 1st 1st

With Namiotka[edit]

Event 2005–06 2006–07
World Junior Champ. 4th 4th
JGP Final 5th 6th
JGP Canada 4th
JGP Croatia 1st
JGP Czech Republic 3rd
JGP Norway 2nd
U.S. Championships 2nd J. 9th
J. = Junior level

With Galleher[edit]

Event 2004
U.S. Championships 6th J.[56]
J. = Junior level

Men's singles[edit]

Event 2003 2004 2005
U.S. Championships 11th N.[57] 12th J.[58]
N. = Novice level J. = Junior level


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  2. ^ a b Hackney, Deanna; Phillips, Chad (January 19, 2019). "John Coughlin, champion US figure skater, dies after sport suspension". CNN News.
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External links[edit]

Media related to John Coughlin at Wikimedia Commons