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SOCHI 2014

Meet The 2014 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team

By Brandon Penny | Jan. 12, 2014, 10:30 p.m. (ET)
L-R: Polina Edmunds (silver), Gracie Gold (gold), Mirai Nagasu (bronze), Ashley Wagner (pewter) pose during the awards at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 11, 2014 in Boston.

BOSTON – The 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships were no exception to the typical drama, excitement and top-notch competition figure skating fans have come to expect from one of the Olympic Winter Games’ most popular sports. After four days of triumphs, disappointments and surprises, U.S. Figure Skating nominated its 15-member U.S. Olympic Team based on results from a series of international and national events dating back to January 2013. All nominations are pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.

For the pairs teams, the top two teams from these championships — Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir and Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay — were selected to compete in Sochi, while 2012 U.S. champions Caydee  Denney and John Coughlin finished third.

As expected, Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner were the biggest stories for the women — but not for the expected reasons. Gold earned her first U.S. title while two-time reigning champion Ashley Wagner faulted in both programs and finished fourth. But Wagner’s performances in international competition helped her earn a spot on her long-awaited first Olympic team. 2014 U.S. silver medalist Polina Edmunds, age 15, will join them in Sochi. 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu finished third.

The ice dance competition was perhaps the most predictable with a repeat of last year’s podium. Reigning world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White took gold for their sixth straight U.S. title, while Madison Chock and Evan Bates earned silver, with siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani in third. All three teams are headed to Sochi.

The men provided for an exciting and surprising finale to the competition as reigning champion Max Aaron finished third and missed out on being named to his first Olympic team. 2010 Olympian Jeremy Abbott won his fourth U.S. title, as well as a spot on his second Olympic team. Nineteen-year-old Jason Brown secured his ticket to Sochi by earning his first senior U.S. medal, a silver.

PAIRS

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir

Hometown: Cranston, RI (Castelli); Subury, Mass. (Shnapir)

Training town: Brighton, Mass.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 23 (Castelli); 25 (Shnapir)

Major accomplishments: Gold medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 Four Continents Championships; Gold medal at 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2012 NHK Trophy; Gold medal at 2012 Ice Challenge

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games for both skaters

On making the team: Castelli: “Simon and I are speechless. This is one of the happiest days of our lives. We’ve worked so hard for the last eight years together and it really paid off. We’re so excited to be here in this moment... We’re so excited to go to Sochi. We’re thrilled.”
Shnapir: “Мы на в Сочи! That means ‘We’re on to Sochi’ in Russian. I know it’s cliché, but this is a dream come true. We’re still a little bit shocked. We’ve worked so hard and done so much in our eight years together, and this is such a great pinnacle for us.”

You might not know that Shnapir was born in Russia. He still has family in Ukraine who will likely attend the Games, as will his parents. Castelli has never been to Russia and is glad to have a translator in Simon.

Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay

Hometown: Plainsboro, N.J. (Zhang); Newtown, Pa. (Bartholomay)

Training town: Ellenton, Fla.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 20 (Zhang); 24 (Bartholomay)

Major accomplishments: Silver medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Sixth place at 2013 Cup of China; Seventh place at 2013 Skate America; Fourth place at 2013 Four Continents Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships 

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games

On making the team: Bartholomay: “We’re absolutely thrilled that we were able to put everything together here. All of our training just came together. This is a truly magical moment. This was an amazing event with fantastic competitors and amazing champions, Marissa and Simon. We couldn’t ask for anything more at the moment.”

You might not know that Zhang and Bartholomay planned to celebrate making the Olympic team by having ice cream (Zhang) and a burger and beer (Bartholomay).

LADIES

Polina Edmunds

Hometown: San Jose, Calif.

Training town: San Jose, Calif.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 15

Major accomplishments: Silver medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Gold medal at 2013 Junior Grand Prix Belarus; Gold medal at 2013 Junior Grand Prix Mexico; Gold medal in junior competition at 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships 

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games

On making the team: “I’m just so happy right now. It’s a huge honor to be representing the United States at the Olympics in Sochi. It’s a dream come true.”

You might not know that Edmunds’ mother and coach, Nina, grew up in Russia and moved to the U.S. after meeting American tourist John Edmunds. “I’ve been eating my grandma’s Russian soup every day since I was 2,” Edmunds said of the influence Russian culture has in her life.

Gracie Gold

Hometown: Chicago

Training town: El Segundo, Calif.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 18

Major accomplishments: Gold medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 Skate Canada; Silver medal at 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Silver medal at 2012 Rostelecom Cup; Gold medal in junior competition at 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships 

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games

On making the team: “I’m so excited to be going to Sochi representing the United States. The Olympics aren’t just another competition, it’s the ultimate dream. It’s a life experience that I’ll never forget and I’m so excited to be going.”

You might not know that Gold switched coaches at the beginning of the Olympic season and moved from Illinois to California to train with Frank Carroll. “I have to say thanks to Frank for taking me on and just taking me under his wing. I think he’s changed me, not just as a skater, but as a person,” she said.

Ashley Wagner

Hometown: Alexandria, Va.

Training town: Artesia, Calif.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 22

Major accomplishments: Pewter medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 Grand Prix Final; Gold medal at 2013 Trophee Eric Bompard; Silver medal at 2013 Skate America; Gold medal at 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Silver medal at 2013 Grand Prix Final; Gold medal at 2012 Trophee Eric Bompard; Gold medal at 2012 Skate America; Gold medal at 2012 Four Continents Championships; Gold medal at 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Nine career ISU Grand Prix medals (three gold, two silver, four bronze) 

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games

On making the team: “I’m at a loss for words right now. It’s been a really rough four years and I’ve been working really hard… I’m happy that my federation was able to see beyond one bad skate and I can’t believe that I’m going to be able to represent the United States in Sochi. We have an incredible team, and I’m so proud of what we’ve all been able to accomplish so far. I’m on cloud nine. Everyone has been so supportive over the last couple of days and I’m very grateful to be where I am right now.” 

You might not know that Wagner narrowly missed the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team by placing third at those U.S. championships when only two U.S. women went to the Games. She was on the 2009 world team that “lost” the U.S. its third spot in Vancouver and vowed to regain that spot and then fill one of the three for Sochi. Wagner redeemed herself and shed the title of ‘Almost Girl’ when she won two straight U.S. championships and then finished fifth at the 2013 worlds to earn the U.S. three spots for Sochi. She has said she will finally be able to put her 2010 demons behind her now that she has made the 2014 team.

ICE DANCE

Madison Chock and Evan Bates

Hometown: Novi, Mich. (Chock); Ann Arbor, Mich. (Bates)

Training town: Novi, Mich.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 21 (Chock); 24 (Bates)

Major accomplishments: Silver medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 Cup of China; Bronze medal at 2013 Rostelecom Cup; Bronze medal at 2013 Four Continents Championships; Silver medal at 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Fourth place at 2012 Cup of China

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games for Chock; Second Olympic Winter Games for Bates (2010)

On making the team: Chock: “I’m so over the moon and completely thrilled. This has been a lifelong dream. We’re so happy and we couldn’t be in better company. We’re just so thrilled.”

You might not know that Bates competed in Vancouver four years ago with Emily Samuelson. At the time, Chock was partnered with Greg Zuerlein and finished fifth at the U.S. championships. “Things have changed quite a bit in my skating career since my back injury in 2010,” Bates said. “But my experience with that has given me a great respect... Looking back now I’m not glad that it happened, but it led to a series of events that led me to skate with Madi and skate in Novi and be here trying to take a shot at another Olympic team.”

Meryl Davis and Charlie White

Hometown: West Bloomfield, Mich. (Davis); Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (White)

Training town: Canton, Mich.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 27 (Davis); 26 (White)

Major accomplishments: Gold medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Gold medal at 2013 Grand Prix Final; Gold medal at 2013 NHK Trophy; Gold medal at 2013 Skate America; Gold medal at 2013 World Championships; Gold medal at 2011 World Championships; Silver medal at 2010 Olympic Winter Games; Six total U.S. championships gold medals; Five consecutive Grand Prix Final gold medals; Thirteen ISU Grand Prix medals (11 gold, two bronze); Four world championships medals (two gold, two silver); Five Four Continents Championships medals (three gold, two silver)

Sochi will mark: Second Olympic Winter Games (2010)

On making the team: White: “We are so lucky to be part of such an amazing team. This is a dream come true for us. Having our sixth title and being able to go to these Olympic Games next to our friends and our training mates, we really are blessed to have this opportunity. Obviously we’re going into these Games with very high expectations. We’ve had a lot of great momentum over the last four years since the 2010 Olympics and we think we’ve put ourselves in a great position to bring home a gold medal. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”

You might not know that White was an ice hockey player until age 18. In Vancouver, he attended the men’s gold medal game. It marked Davis’ first hockey game and her experience was highlighted by her prime seat next to the head of the USOC.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Training town: Canton, Mich.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 19 (Maia); 22 (Alex)

Major accomplishments: Bronze medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 NHK Trophy; Bronze medal at 2013 Skate America; Bronze medal at 2011 World Championships; Silver medal at 2011 Four Continents Championships; Four U.S. championships medals (two silver, two bronze); Seven ISU Grand Prix medals (one gold, one silver, five bronze)

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games

On making the team: Alex: “This has been the craziest, most amazing journey. Ten years ago we started in this sport. Ice dance is a crazy sport, it’s a crazy life, but moments like this you don’t really prepare for, you only dream of. I’m just so happy that we’re here together and I wouldn’t be here with anyone else.”

You might not know that Maia and Alex — or the ‘Shib Sibs’—usually watch a comedic video before taking to the ice, but at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships they pulled out a video of their juvenile free dance from the 2001 Boston Open. “I think it really showed us how far we’ve come and made us appreciate the moment,” Maia said. 

MEN

Jeremy Abbott

Hometown: Aspen, Colo.

Training town: Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 28

Major accomplishments: Gold medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 NHK Trophy; Gold medal at 2008 Grand Prix Final; Four U.S. championships gold medals; Eight ISU Grand Prix medals (three gold, two silver, three bronze); Two Four Continents Championships bronze medals

Sochi will mark: Second Olympic Winter Games (2010)

On making the team: “I’m really, really excited to go to Sochi. I knew that I was going to cry, good or bad, today. And it all came out. I’m proud to be representing the U.S. Four-time U.S. champion is amazing. I’m just a small-town boy and I never thought I would be here.”

You might not know that Abbott was almost disqualified from the competition in his free skate at the 2014 U.S. championships. Competitors are given one minute to start their program and Abbott did not realize how much time had gone by until the audience counted down. With one second remaining, Abbott arrived at his starting position and began his program, which won him his fourth U.S. title.

Jason Brown

Hometown: Highland Park, Ill.

Training town: Monument, Colo.

Age during Sochi Opening Ceremony: 19

Major accomplishments: Silver medal at 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Bronze medal at 2013 Trophee Eric Bompard; Silver medal at 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy; Silver medal at 2013 Junior World Championships; Bronze medal at 2012 Junior World Championships; Gold medal at 2011 Junior Grand Prix Final; Five Junior Grand Prix medals (two gold, three silver)

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games

On making the team: “I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve dreamed about going to the Olympics. I didn’t start thinking it could happen for 2014 until halfway through this season.”

You might not know that Brown ran up a 100-story building in 12 minutes at age 12 — and finished 12th out of 2,000 runners — for a charity, Step Up for Kids.

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