Ice Network

American pairs satisfied with showings in Sochi

Castelli, Shnapir meet goal of top-10 finish; Zhang, Bartholomay take 12th
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That's four -- count 'em, four -- outstanding programs Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir skated at the Olympics. The Americans posted a personal-best score each time they took the ice. -Getty Images

U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir didn't complete their planned throw quad Salchow, but they finished with something perhaps a little better: a top-10 finish in their first trip to the Olympics.

They also will leave Sochi with a bronze medal from the team competition.

Not bad for about a week's worth of work.

"Spasibo, Sochi," Shnapir, a Moscow native, said in Russian after placing ninth here. "Thank you, Sochi. They've been fantastic. We couldn't have asked for a better crowd. They've been supporting us from beginning to end."

Skating to music from the James Bond movie Skyfall, Castelli and Shnapir earned a personal-best score of 187.82 points, but it was clear that skating four programs in about a week was a little too much. They suffered a few mistakes, as she turned out on the landing of the triple toe, two-footed the landing on the quad throw attempt and touched her hand down on the triple Salchow.

"It was right there," Castelli said of the throw. "This is the first time I felt a little more nervous on the ice. We pulled through. This is our final Olympic performance (in Sochi). We couldn't say three more to go, two more to go. I wish I landed it. I doubted myself a little, but we did a season's best again, so we're through."

When asked if they were tired, Shnapir answered with a resounding "yes."

"We're exhausted," Shnapir said. "Going into the free skate, we knew we would put everything we had in the gas tank into this program.

But they made it through.

"Most important, we came here to compete and show off our strengths, and I think we've done that," Shnapir said. "We've had season bests here. Sure, we could have skated a little better, but we did a pretty darn good job."

Meanwhile, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, the second American team in the field, skated a relatively clean program and placed 12th in their Olympic debut with 167.21 points. Zhang and Bartholomay were the first team to perform in the free skate, and aside from his shaky double Axel and a Level 1 death spiral, the rest of their Les Misérables program was fairly strong.

"I believe we handled the pressure very, very well," Zhang said.

Throughout their time here, the Jim Peterson-trained pair said veteran Olympians have taken time out to show them the ropes. Perhaps four years from now in South Korea, they can offer some tips as well.

"Next time," Bartholomay said with a laugh.

Zhang and Bartholomay have thoroughly enjoyed their first trip to the Olympics, which for them has been much like a trip to an athletic Disney World. But soon the pixie dust will settle, and Sunday they plan to head back to Florida (where they train), take a bit of time off and possibly visit the real Disney World.

"We've been in Florida for about three years now and are about an hour and a half away, and have never been," Zhang said.

Soon enough, they said, it will be time to resume practice. They are the first alternates for the world team and need to train in case they are called to duty. Bartholomay said the couple has committed to skating together at least one more year, possibly longer.

"This is a stepping stone," Bartholomay said.

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