OMAHA, Neb.- Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir won their first U.S. championship in pairs Saturday after finishing fifth the previous two seasons.
“We worked so hard this year, and we’re really proud of what we put out, even though we had a little bump,” Castelli said. “Overall, we did what we came here to accomplish, and we’re really happy.”
Castelli, 22, and Russian-born Shnapir, 25, have been competing together since they were in novice in 2006. They were third at the NHK Trophy in Miyagi, Japan, this autumn and fifth at Skate America. Representing the Skating Club of Boston, they skated to Julian Plaza’s “Playadora.”
“Last year was a big disappointment for us, and we came back with motivation and said we’re not going to settle,” Castelli said. “We’re ready to do even better.”
Alexa Scimena and Christopher Knierim, age 25 and born in Tucson, won silver with a 172.75 and won the free skate. Knierim, who represents the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado Springs, was seventh last year with Andrea Poapst, while Scimena was 10th with Ivan Dimitrov.
"This was a great event, a lot of strong teams, everyone showed up today," Knierim said. "It was the first time we put it (our long program) out in competition after we changed it."
Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, ages 19 and 23, won bronze (172.02) skating to “West Side Story,” improving on their eighth-place finish from San Jose last year. They are coached by Amanda Evora who finished third with Mark Ladwig in the same event a year ago and also went to the Vancouver Olympics. Ladwig and his new partner- Lindsay Davis- placed fourth at 165.08.
Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin from the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona placed 10th with 143.35 points.
Also, Karolina Calhoun of the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club won the juvenile girls championship with a score of 49.25, followed by Maxine Marie Bautista of DuPage FSC (46.76) and Akari Nakahara of the All-Year FSC (46.66).
In other news, Victoria Azarenka, the 23-year-old Belarusuan who lived in Scottsdale for many years, defeated Li Na, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, to win her second-straight Australian Open title Saturday.