Castelli and Shnapir win US figure skating pairs


BOSTON -- Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir won the pairs title Saturday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

With a James Bond-themed routine to the music from Skyfall, Castelli and Shnapir totaled 205.71 points. Their only deduction was for a fall on her landing on a quad salchow.

Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay finished second with 201.72 points. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin moved up to third with the highest score in Saturday's free skate.

Skating in front of their home crowd, Castelli and Shnapir led after Thursday's short program and held on to earn the inside track to a spot in the Sochi Olympics next month.

The U.S. Olympic figure skating teams will be announced Sunday. The top three in dance and top two in pairs are expected -- but not guaranteed -- to get spots.

That means Castelli and Shnapir are probably going to Russia, with love.

Wearing a white shirt and gray tie, with a shoulder holster strapped on, Shnapir tossed Castelli high into the air for a triple twist and then threw her into a high-point value quad salchow that she finished with a fall -- their only major mistake of the routine. He also did a triple toe loop when she went around twice, costing them some points.

They were neither shaken nor stirred.

When they finished at the center of the rink where their hometown Boston Bruins play, Shnapir struck the bond pose: standing sideways with his hands up, ready to turn and fire. The crowd showered them with appreciation and the judges did the same, handing them scores of 132.58 for the free skate -- the third best on the day, but good enough to protect their lead.

That's because they finished the short program more than six points ahead of the second-place Zhang and Bartholomay. The 2013 third-place finishers skated a clean program and earned 135.22 points to a mistake-free Les Miserable routine that brought the crowd to its feet.

Denney and Coughlin, skating to Phantom of the Opera, earned the highest score of the day with 136.03.

After years of narrow pairs fields, this year's competition was deeper, with a half-dozen teams capable of reaching the podium at nationals.

The U.S. Figure Skating Championships continued with the free dance competition later Saturday afternoon, followed by the championship ladies free skate. The men's championship is on Sunday.