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U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Pairs short shakes things up

 Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay compete in the pairs short program during the Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden on January 9, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The pairs took to the ice today at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and as expected, it was a day full of surprises.

Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay had their best skate of the season which included a throw triple lutz. Unlike many of the other pairs, they had a clean skate and landed in first, which they probably assumed would only be temporary.

Expectations were high for Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, as many assume they will not only make the podium, but also make the Olympic Team, yet they struggled in their short program. Caydee doubled her triple toe and put her hand down on their throw triple flip. It was a less then stellar performance that put them behind Zhang and Bartholomay.

Then came yet another surprise. DeeDee Leng and Timothy LeDuc came out onto the ice and though not many have even heard of them, they skated with passion and intensity. With a strong and powerful clean performance it put them in second place behind Zhang and Bartholomay and in front of Denney and Coughlin. No one anticipated this kind of game changer.

Last to skate was reigning U.S. Champions, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir. Skating in front of a home crowd, these two skated like true championships reminding everyone that their win last season was not a fluke. They looked sharp and prepared. It was the best short program that they have skated all season. Landing both their side-by-side triple salchows and a huge throw triple salchow, they clearly took the lead.

Castelli and Shnapir were rewarded with a high score of 73.13 putting them definitively in first. The four pairs that trail behind them are separated by only a point or two, so the free skate will be an exciting one as these skaters fight it out for the podium and a spot on the Olympic Team.

The pairs continue their quest on Saturday, January 11 on NBC. If you live in the King County area, it should be airing live at 12:00pm. Be sure to watch as the drama unfolds.

Current standings:

1. Marissa Castelli, and Simon Shnapir - 73.13
2. Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay - 66.50
3. DeeDee Leng and Timothy LeDuc - 66.40
4. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin - 65.40
5. Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim - 64.68
6. Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff - 61.70
7. Tarah Kayne, and Danny O'Shea - 61.48
8. Haven Denny and Brandon Frazier- 59.52
9. Jessica Pfund and AJ Reiss - 55.16
10. Lindsay Davis and Rockne Brubaker - 54.14
11. Jessica Noelle Calalang and Zack Sidhu - 51.19
12. Alexandria Shaughnessy and James Morgan - 48.45

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