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Pairs teams make most of their Olympic experience by JOSH ELLIS


It might not have been gold, silver or bronze,


but the Olympic story for Marissa Castelli and Si- mon Shnapir, and Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bar- tholomay, still includes a happy ending. Castelli and Shnapir, the two-time and reign- ing U.S. pairs champions, who live and train in Boston, kicked things off with a personal-best score in the short program. “I don’t think we have ever had as much fun skating together as we did in that short program,” Shnapir said. “T at was the best short program we have ever performed, the best score we have ever gotten.” Opening with a


huge triple twist, the tone was set for a skate that received positive GOEs for every single element they attempted. Skating to “Black Magic Woman” and “Smooth” from Carlos Santana, Castelli and Shnapir received Level 4s on three elements and executed a huge throw triple Salchow that gar- nered a GOE of 1.50. With 67.44 points, they sat ninth entering the free skate. Knowing they would need to post another strong score to preserve a top-10 fi nish, the veteran partners took the ice at the Iceberg Skating


Performing their free skate to the James Bond Skyfall soundtrack, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir deliver an entertaining and sound pro- gram on the biggest stage.


Palace to perform their free skate to music from the James Bond movie Skyfall. While the program hit a few snags, Castelli


and Shnapir generated 120.38 points en route to an overall score of 187.82 points and a ninth-place fi nish.


“Before we left for the Olympics we set a goal of placing in the top 10, and we achieved it,” Cas- telli said. “T e Olympics was one of the most re- warding competitions we have been at in our career together. Every time we went out to compete we kept on getting better and better. It was such an amazing experience, and I was ecstatic that we were able to achieve our goal.”


When looking back at their season, the team’s


accomplishment is even more impressive consid- ering how things started. A fourth-place fi nish at their opening event — the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in September — launched a less-than-stellar international campaign that in- cluded a sixth-place fi nish at Skate America and a fourth-place fi nish at NHK Trophy. Castelli and Shnapir, and their coaches Bobby


Martin and Carrie Wall, knew things had to turn around if they were going to defend their U.S. title in January and make the Olympic Team. “We knew something had to give, and our


coaches really took it upon themselves to push us,” Shnapir said. “T ey helped us right the ship and put us to work. It all came together by the time U.S. Championships came around.” “We did not give up when things got hard,


Castelli and Shnapir share their joy in the kiss and cry.


Castelli and Shnapir produce a personal-best international score for their Santana short program.


18 APRIL 2014


PAUL GILHAM/GETTY IMAGES


PAUL GILHAM/GETTY IMAGES


MATTHEW STOCKMAN/GETTY IMAGES


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