Although the group of athletes representing the United States in the debut Olympic team figure skating event in Sochi, Russia entered the 2014 Winter Games expected to medal, an early misstep forced them to fight for a spot on the podium. After achieving that feat on Feb. 9 by coming in third behind Russia and northern neighbor Canada during the event final, several members of the U.S. team shared their excitement with fans via Twitter.
Team captain Charlie White, who is favored to take ice dancing gold with long-time partner Meryl Davis, praised his teammates for coming together when it really mattered. He tweeted "What an amazing and historic moment! So lucky to be part of a team that showed courage, fortitude, and a lot of great skating!" and predicted that the victory would bind them all "together as family for the rest of our lives!Go #TeamUSA"
Pairs skater Marissa Castelli, who won her second-straight U.S. national title with partner Simon Shnapir in January but is not expected to contend for a medal in Sochi, echoed White's enthusiasm with "WE DID IT!! Couldn't be more proud of Team USA!! @USFigureSkating #Olympicmoment #Sochi2014 #figureskating #teamUSA"
Despite the excitement expressed by others, the podium finish likely meant the most to former national champion Ashley Wagner. After missing a berth on the 2010 Vancouver team by coming in third behind then-U.S. champ Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu, the 22-year old fought hard to make the Sochi squad but nearly suffered a repeat of 2010 when she faltered badly at 2014 nationals and finished fourth behind new champion Gracie Gold. Although she ultimately earned a spot on the team alongside fellow Olympians Gold and upstart Polina Edmunds, Wagner drew criticism from detractors who felt her nomination was unfair, but she persevered and even struck back against her critics during a Jan. 23 press call, calling some of their remarks "absolutely unacceptable".
After claiming her bronze medal, an exuberant Wagner tweeted "I am an OLYMPIC MEDALIST!!! THANK YOU TO MY INCREDIBLE TEAM! Also huge thanks to our fearless leader @CharlieaWhite who led us 2 the bronze!"
Figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will resume Feb. 11 with the short program round of the pairs competition, featuring Castelli and Shnapir as well as U.S. silver medalists Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.