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Underdog pairs team grasps for Olympic berth

Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay skate in the pairs free skate during the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden on January 11, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The unexpected occurred again at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships today as the pairs took to the ice for their free skate.

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin were expected to be on top after the short program, but that was not the case. Caydee struggled in the short, putting them in fourth place going into the free skate. This usually calm and collected team looked a bit more nervous than usual as they took to the ice for their warm up, but when they came out for their free skate, they were strong and ready to fight to get back on top.

They had a solid performance, with the only major error being that John singled his axel, but other than that it was a great skate full of excitement and passion. They were given a total score of 201.43 with three teams left to skate.

Next up was DeeDee Leng and Timothy LeDuc who were in third after the short program. This team struggled in their free skate and finished in seventh place.

The excitement built as Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir took to the ice for their free skate. They looked confident and ready. Castelli and Shnapir attempted their throw quad salchow. Even though she did fall, it was an incredible jump that looked fully rotated and they still received points for the attempt. It was not a perfect performance, but it was still very solid and worth their first place finish as they won their second national title.

Last to skate was Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay who were in second after the short program. They had a fantastic skate, landing everything in their program. It was the best free skate we have seen from them all season long. Landing both of their side-by-side jumps and a nice throw triple salchow, this team brought the house down.

Everyone was on pins and needles waiting for the final score of the event, which was a grand total of 201.72 points for Zhang and Bartholomay which meant that they overcome Denney and Coughlin for the silver medal.

The debate now begins on who will make the Olympic Team as there are only two spots for the U.S. pairs at the Olympic Games. It was assumed that Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir would make the team along with Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, but after today’s unexpected skate from Zhang and Bartholomay the conversation has shifted as some believe that Zhang and Bartholomay should be named to the team as they had two solid performances at this championships.

It will be a long night for Denney and Coughlin along with Zhang and Batholomay as they wait to find out if their dream has come true to become Olympians. The announcement will be officially released tomorrow and then it will be known whose dreams will come to pass and whose road to Sochi has come to an end.

Pairs final standings:

1. Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir - 205.71
2. Felicia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay - 201.72
3. Caydee Denney/John Coughlin - 201.43
4. Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim - 189.67
5. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier - 181.59
6. Tarah Kayne/Danny O'Shea - 173.89
7. DeeDee Leng/Timothy LeDuc - 171.94
8. Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff - 170.73
9. Lindsay Davis/Rockne Brubaker - 163.81
10. Jessica Pfund/AJ Reiss - 156.04
11. Jessica Calalang/Zack Sidhu - 151.65
12. Alexandria Shaughnessy/James Morgan - 140.73

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