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2014 U.S. figure skating nationals: Castelli, Shnapir lead after short program

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With two spots on the 2014 U.S. Olympic figure skating team on the line, reigning national pairs champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir skated closer to claiming one of them by turning in the highest-scoring short program at the sport's national championships in Boston on Jan. 9.

Castelli and Shnapir, who hail from host city Boston, were the last of the 12 competing couples to skate. The duo's first place mark of 73.13 points shattered their previous personal best U.S. qualifying score of 62.27, which they notched at the 2013 U.S. championships, by a whopping 10 points.

Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay sit in second place with a score of 66.50, while DeeDee Leng and Timothy LeDuc scored third place with a mark of 66.40. In fourth place are 2010 Winter Olympian Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, whose routine earned them 65.4 points, while Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim round out the top five with a mark of 64.68.

Although the U.S. pairs skaters are not considered likely medal candidates in Sochi with the likes of Grand Prix Final champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany in the mix, Castelli and Shnapir could place well if they turn in a like-performance at the Winter Games.

The pairs free skate at the 2014 U.S. national championships is set for Jan. 11, and the identities of the athletes named to the 2014 Olympic figure skating team will be revealed Jan. 12.

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