The nation's pairs figure skating woes continued July 16 as 2014 Olympians Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay revealed the decision to terminate their partnership. U.S Figure Skating disseminated the news to fans and media outlets via a press release.
Zhang, 20, plans to attend the University of Florida as a full-time student. The 25-year old Bartholomay hopes to continue as a competitive skater with an as-yet to be named new partner.
Although the duo competed together for just three years, they enjoyed a relatively quick rise to the top of American pairs skating. In addition to earning one of just two available Olympic berths at the Sochi Games, Zhang and Bartholomay enjoyed success at nationals, taking the bronze in 2013 and the silver in 2014.
Despite their success on the national level, they, like most recent American pairs teams, didn't fair exceptionally well on the international stage. They placed 12th in Sochi and 14th at 2014's Worlds, where they were called in to replace Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, who withdrew due to injury.
Zhang and Bartholomay's departure widens an already gaping hole in U.S. pairs skating. The first recent blow to the program came when Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who placed ninth in Sochi and are the reigning U.S. national champions, dissolved their partnership on May 7. Shnapir has since teamed up with DeeDee Leng, but it can take time to develop the level of trust required to execute the elements needed to make a pair competitive. The second blow came as reigning U.S. bronze medalists Denney and Coughlin revealed they'd sit out the entire 2014-15 season.
The nation has struggled in recent years to produce internationally successful pairs teams. The last World pairs medalists were Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman, who took the bronze in 2002. Since then, the sport has been largely dominated by Chinese Russian, and Canadian pairs, and by the German team of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.
Follow U.S. Figure Skating's official Twitter account for the latest news and information. The 2014-15 figure skating season officially began on July 1.