The last Olympic year, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were on opposite sides of the podium in the junior level with different partners.
Four years later, the pairs team has qualified for the Sochi Games after winning the silver medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston.
It was 2010 when Zhang won the junior pairs U.S. title with Taylor Toth and Bartholomay was third with partner Erika Smith. Zhang and Bartholomay, ages 20 and 24, teamed up in May 2011 and placed eighth in the 2012 U.S. Championships, before winning bronze last year.
They finished fourth in the 2013 Four Continents at Osaka, seventh in Skate America and sixth in the Cup of China. The Olympics will be their first competition in Europe, where they will be joined by U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir.
“We’re absolutely thrilled we were able to put everything together here, all of our training came together,” Bartholomay said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Originally from Plainsboro, N.J., and Newtown, Pa., Zhang and Bartholomay train in Ellenton, Fla., where one of their coaches is Amanda Evora, who placed 10th in the 2010 Vancouver Games with Mark Ladwig.
Even though they’re Olympic-bound, they both seem so down-to-Earth. Bartholomay works part time as a server at the Martini bar Gio Fabulous, while Zhang works in retail at J. Crew in addition to taking part-time classes at the University of South Florida and watching “Friends” on TBS every afternoon from 3:30 to 5.
It was Zhang who melted hearts during the press conference announcing the Olympic team, breaking down in tears. It’s a wonder how her emotions will cope when she actually arrives in Russia.
“I can only imagine the greatest feeling in the world,” Zhang said of walking into the stadium for the opening ceremony. “I watch it every two years on television, and seeing people I know and people I skated with, seeing them on the TV, knowing this year, it’s our turn, it’s a great feeling. It’s such an honor to be a part of Team USA and being chosen.”
Bartholomay shares her passion for the Olympic movement.
“It might be an overwhelming celebration,” he said. “I might be a little bit emotional. I’ve called out of work to watch the curling final, I’ll watch anything, I love it. It’s amazing to know I’ll be a part of it.”
Bartholomay also has began coaching and is taking courses related to sports therapy.
“I love coaching and being able to teach this wonderful sport to young kids who want to learn,” Bartholomay said.
The duo also has no plans to hang up the skates once Sochi is finished.
“We’re going to keep going until we’ve given it all we got,” Zhang said.