Ice Network

Castelli, Tran teaming up despite logistical hurdles

Pair will train in both Boston, Montreal for upcoming season
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Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran have paired up for the upcoming season. -Jay Adeff/Getty Images

There was a part of Marissa Castelli that secretly did not want a partnership with Mervin Tran to work. Such a partnership would require too much paperwork, too much waiting, too much travel.

But then she would skate with him and things would work out too well.

"I didn't want to skate together at first," Castelli admitted. "Then we skated together and I said, 'OK, maybe we'll try that again.'"

They tried it again, and now they are partners.

Castelli had skated with Simon Shnapir for eight seasons, representing Team USA in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. She said she was not looking to rush into another partnership just to get back on the ice quickly. She wanted to make sure that she found a partner who was a good fit for the long haul.

Castelli and Tran know they will have to jump through a few hoops and be a little patient to make this partnership work. So far, they like what they have experienced together on the ice enough to believe their partnership will be worth the extra paperwork and patience.

Tran, 23, is Canadian and spent last season with partner Natasha Purich. They placed fourth at the 2014 Canadian Championships. Tran skated with Purich following a six-season partnership with Narumi Takahashi in which they represented Japan. He and Takahashi placed as high as third in the world in 2012.

Castelli, also 23, won two U.S. pairs skating titles with Shnapir and was part of the U.S. team that earned a bronze medal in the team competition in Sochi. She and Shnapir placed ninth in the pairs event in the Winter Games and were 11th at worlds. Castelli and Shnapir had a lot of success on the ice but had a lot of personality clashes over the years before finally announcing their split in May. Shnapir is now training with DeeDee Leng. 

Castelli said she never considered representing Canada, telling icenetwork, "I'm American all the way." Tran is awaiting word regarding his release from Skate Canada. Skate Canada's board of directors is expected to make a decision regarding Tran's future at their next meeting, which is scheduled for the end of June. At a minimum, he is not expected to be able to compete internationally for a year. Tran's last competition was at Four Continents when he and Purich finished fifth.

While Skate Canada officials sort out Tran's issues regarding what country he can represent on the ice, the couple has already started training together. They plan to train in both Boston, where Castelli has spent much of her career, and in Montreal. When the skaters are in Boston, they will work with coach Bobby Martin. They plan to train in Montreal the majority of the time, however, and will work with coach Bruno Marcotte.

Julie Marcotte, who handled choreography for Castelli when she skated with Shnapir, will be working with Castelli and Tran on their programs for the upcoming season. According to Castelli, Julie Marcotte has planned the skaters' short program but has not finalized the free skate.

Tran joked that their six-hour commute between Boston and Montreal will provide them with "good bonding time."

Castelli and Tran had tryouts in both Boston and Montreal before deciding they were the right fit.

"Lucky for me," Castelli said, "Mervin knows what he's doing. We have to work on a few things but we have good, natural timing together. It really terrified me at first to skate with other people, but I'm feeling very comfortable with Mervin already."

"I'm impressed already with our tryouts," Tran said.

One of the biggest hurdles Castelli might encounter with this new partnership is with the French language, which is spoken throughout Montreal. Castelli laughed when asked about her French, saying, "It is not existing." Good thing for her, Tran is fluent.

Castelli is embracing her new skating adventure, adding that they have been good friends for about seven years. Tran, too, is looking forward to the new partnership, noting that many teams overcome the differences in nationalities.

"It's been a blast so far," Tran said. "For me, I am optimistic."