BY: ALYCIA BENDER
Figure skating is considered one of the most graceful, beautiful sports in the Olympic Games. Frolicking on a sheet of ice might be amazing to watch, but it certainly is not as easy as it looks. While many individuals around the world barely have the confidence or patience to try skating themselves, Nathan Bartholomay, Felicia Zhang, Marissa Castelli, and Simon Shnapir definitely do not have the problem of lacking confidence or patience with each other.
These two pairs not only figure skate, but distribute their balance, hit all of the right spins at the right times, and look graceful, all while staying in synchronization. Zhang/Bartholomay is one of the American pairs to watch at the 2014 Olympic Games, which will take place in Sochi, Russia. Meeting at the University of Delaware, the pair has since moved to Florida in order to better fulfill their competitive needs. This duo has been skating together for three years and won the silver medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in early January.
This will be the Olym- pic debut for the pair, and they are viewing the Games as an opportunity rather than a pressure-packed competition. “We’re going to go and we’re going to do what we do every day in training,” said Bartholomay, a Pennsylvania native. At 24 years-old, he is looking at this whole experience as the next step in his career, as does Zhang, “The Olympics is just another competition that we’re going to focus on right now.”
The two are very humble people who are passionate about figure skating. Zhang works as a sales associate for J. Crew and Bartholomay is a waiter at an Italian restaurant, both just trying to pay their expensive skating bills.
In addition to Zhang/ Bartholomay, there will be one other pair representing the U.S.: Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who also will be making their Olympic debut. Cas- telli is a 23-year-old graduate of the College of Rhode Island, while Shnapir is a 26-year-old graduate of Emerson College. Earning the opportunity to compete at their first Olympics, Castelli/Shnapir won their sec- ond consecutive pairs title at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Cham- pionships. Although winning a medal would be ideal for them, the talented duo is just as happy being in Sochi.
“We’re not looking to win Olympic gold,” Castelli says, “We’re looking to put out a strong performance. We’re looking for top-10 finishing and doing the best we can and skating two clean programs. That’s what we’re looking for. We just want to experience the Olympics and be there in the moment and cheer on our fellow teammates for Team USA and just enjoy the Olympic experience.”
Working very hard for three years with another per- son is no piece of cake, but both pairs’ hard work is paying off. Best of luck to the newest members of the Olympic team and, hopefully, this is their year!
Reasserting Russia’s dominacne in pairs figure skating by reclaiming the gold medal after failing to get on the podium at all in Vancouver) Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov (Russia), Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (Russia) and Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (Germany)