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2014 U.S. figure skating nationals: Castelli, Shnapir defend pairs title

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Hometown favorites Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir successfully defended their pairs title at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Jan. 11. Although the Sochi-bound U.S. Olympic figure skating team won't be officially named until Jan. 12 at noon Eastern time, the win virtually guarantees the duo one of the two available pairs berths.

Castelli and Shnapir entered the free skate leading the competition by a sizable six-point margin. Their free skate was pocked with small bobbles and errors and good enough for just third place, but their total competition mark of 205.71 was high enough to secure the gold.

Taking a surprise silver with a total mark of 201.72 were Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, whose free skate to music from "Les Miserables" was the cleanest offering of the afternoon. The sport's governing body will have a tough time choosing whether to send them or bronze medalists and former national champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin to the Winter Games in February.

Denney, a 2010 Olympian with former partner Jeremy Barrett, and Coughlin won the free skate with a mark of 136.03, but lost out on second place overall by just .29 point. Both couples decimated their previous personal best scores, Zhang and Bartholomay by more than 20 points and Denney and Coughlin by nearly seven.

Well back of the leaders, Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim took the pewter medal with a total mark of 189.67.

The identities of the pairs skaters chosen to represent the nation on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team will be revealed following the men's free skate on Jan. 12.

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