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2014 Winter Olympics

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Castelli and Shnapir take pairs gold, but Denney and Coughlin win free skate

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are likely headed to Sochi.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are likely headed to Sochi.
Scott Mammoser

Boston celebrated another team championship at home Saturday.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who represent the Skating Club of Boston, defended their gold medal in the pairs competition of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden, all but locking them into one of the two spots on the Olympic team, which will be decided Sunday.

After winning Thursday’s short, Castelli and Shnapir scored a third-best 132.58 long program for a combined 205.71, to edge out Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay (135.22/201.72) and free skate winners Caydee Denney and John Coughlin (136.03/201.43).

The committee will look at a wider resume of work in deciding who goes to Sochi.

“There was such depth in this competition,” Shnapir said. “We’re thrilled with the result, but it was a great job by everyone.”

Although they hit two triple Salchows, Castelli and Shnapir, ages 23 and 26, failed on the quad throw Salchow.

Castelli said it was perfect in practice yesterday and it was the first time she fell all season. She also mentioned it was first done by Tiffany Vise, who represents the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona. Plenty of Castelli’s family also came up from Rhode Island and were sitting near the Kiss and Cry Area.

“We’re in shock,” Castelli said. “We’re ready to do it again. The crowd was an amazing support.”

It was a career-best for Denney and Coughlin at Nationals, surpassing the 128.82 they scored in winning the 2012 championship. Denney, 20, made it to the Olympics in 2010 as a 16 year old, with partner Jeremy Barrett, and Coughlin, 28, won the 2011 U.S. title with Caitlin Yankowskas, before they teamed up later that year. A hip injury for Coughlin knocked them out of this competition last year, but they were third in Paris and fourth in Skate America on the Grand Prix circuit this autumn.

“This is what we wanted to do, get U.S. Championships on our terms,” Coughlin said. “It enhances everyone’s legacy. Pairs is in good hands now….we felt that Olympic moment today.”

Defending bronze medalists Zhang and Bartholomay, 20 and 24, finished seventh at Skate America and sixth in the Cup of China, so the selection committee will have its hands full in making its decision tonight.

“We felt like we didn’t leave anything on the table,” Bartholomay said. “We had so much passion. We are aware second place isn’t locked in, but we gave it everything we had.”

Alexia Scimeca and Christopher Knierim, silver medalists in 2013, finished fourth (189.67), while Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, who is from Phoenix, placed fifth (181.59).

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