Marissa Castelli + Simon Shnapir, 2013 US National Champions, placed third in the long program, but won the event. “It wasn’t our best. We made a few mistakes. We’re happy with what we put out. We performed the heck out of that program. Great score. We’re thrilled with the end result,” smiled Castelli. Their anticipated 4S throw ended with a fall. Skating to music from Skyfall, the 6’4” Shnapir was an intimidating James Bond. Their Level 4 triple twist + his height had Castelli reaching for the Garden rafter banners. The Boston trained duo scored 135.58 points (205.71 total). Felicia Zhang + Nathan Bartholomay, 2013 bronze medalists, dazzled the audience with their clean skate to Les Miserables and scored a personal best 135.22 points (201.72 total) and placed second. Both their short and long programs received all positive marks. “We felt like we didn’t leave anything on the table and skated as hard and as passionate as we could,” said Bartholomay. One of their Florida based coaches is former US medalist and 2010 Olympian, Amanda Evora. Caydee Denney + John Coughlin won the long program with 136.03 points (201.43 total) but placed third over all. Like in the short program, it was a jump that was their nemesis. “I want that Axel a little bit,” said Coughlin. Their strong skate to The Phantom of the Opera had the audience cheering with support. After missing the 2013 Nationals due to Coughlin’s injury, the Colorado team wanted to savor this experience. “We were thrilled to be here no matter what considering a year ago I had a bike pedaling my leg for me, “ smiled Coughlin.
Gracie Gold is the newest US Ladies Champion. In 2013 she won silver; in 2014 she won gold. Skating to Sleeping Beauty, the 2013 Skate Canada bronze medalist, mesmerized the audience with her Level 4 spins. “It was like a fairytale,” smiled Gold. After scoring 11.30 points for her opening 3Lz/3T combination, the Frank Carroll coached teenager slowly and methodically skated her program with poise and power. Commenting on being the last to skate, Gold said, “The nerves are something I’ve battled with and let them get into my head, but tonight, I felt strangely calm.” Her score was 139.57 (211.69 total). In second place was Polina Edmonds. “It felt pretty good. I’m happy with how it turned out. I thought it was a pretty good score, “ smiled the fifteen year old Californian. Her spins were all Level 4, but the 3F was called for a wrong edge take off. Edmonds won gold medals at both her 2013 Junior Grand Prix competitions. Edmonds’ lyrical and whimsical presentation of “Solveig’s Song” and “Morning” from Peer Gynt showed maturity beyond her years and earned 126.88 points (193.63 total). Marai Nagasu was the bronze medalist with 125.30 points (190.74 total). She skated to James Bond. Nagasu, who came to the event without a coach received a one-point music deduction. Responding to questions about the thunderous applause from the audience, she paused to dry her tears before speaking, “ I’m so happy. I’m really at a loss for words. It’s how I wanted to skate. I’m a little bit speechless after hearing the crowd like that.” Ashley Wagner, 2013 US National Champion, fell twice and landed in fourth place. “They called my name and I felt like lead. I felt heavy. I felt nervous. I’m just in shock that that’s what I put out at Nationals. I’m embarrassed that I got so much attention for the skater that I am, and then that skater doesn’t even show up on the day it counts, ” quipped Wagner. The program received a 118.03 mark. The 182.84 total was almost 30 points behind the gold medalist.
Ice Dancers, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, have skated together for 16 years. In 2014 they won a record sixth US Championship. “It’s such an honor for us, not only because it’s something we’ve worked hard to accomplish, but we feel there’s such greatness in American ice dance in the building (TD Garden). With all those American ice dancing greats being here, it really feels like a collective effort, and we feel proud to be part of it.” Skating to Scheherazade by Russian composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the Michigan team demonstrated why they’re medal favorites with Level 4 for all executed elements and perfect 10’s for each program component. The program score was 119.50 (200.19 total). Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 2013 silver medalists, placed a distant second with 108.03 (181.33 total). Both scores were a personal best. The former World Junior Champions with different partners skated to selections from Les Miserables. They received a Level 4 for each executed element, except their diagonal step sequence, which was Level 3. “We skated a great free dance today. It’s the best we’ve ever skated. This has been the best competition we’ve ever had together,” smiled Bates. Maia and Alex Shibutani were third, skating to a crowd-pleasing Michael Jackson medley. “A program like this one begins and ends with such high energy. We’ve never had a program where people are screaming when the first note hits. The music carries weight. For us it’s challenging, but also so fulfilling,” commented Alex. Their elements were marked Level 4 for lifts and Level 3 for step sequences. The program received 102.44 (170.44 total). Rounding out the podium were Madison Hubbell and Zack Donohoe, 2013 Skate Canada bronze medalists. The team skated to “Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody” and earned 101.58 points (168.27 total).
Commenting on Hubbell’s injury riddled season, Donohoe said, “I’m so proud of my partner, she’s gone through a lot this season: concussions, torn body parts, bruises, cuts, scrapes. She really pulled through and I think we had the best skate of our lives so far. We are really thrilled with our program”. Hubbell added, “The crowd’s energy really helped us perform all the way through the four minutes”.
Jeremy Abbott threw down the gauntlet in Boston and took back his US Championship title. The four-time gold winner barely escaped being disqualified for a time violation The TD Garden audience jolted him into reality with their loud countdown just before time ran out. Opening with a strong 4T, he received Level 4 for his spins and step sequence. The under rotated 3A marred a clean skate. He earned 174.71 for the revised version of his 2011-12 skate to “Exogenesis Symphony Part III (Redemption)” by Muse. His total score was 274.27.Jason Brown, two-time Jr. World silver medalist, won the long program with 182.61 points and took home silver. Brown’s lack of a quad was more than compensated for with his high artistry and transition scores. The audience cheered when his name was called and clapped to the end of his “Reel Around the Sun”. “I enjoyed every moment. I enjoyed the crowd. They could not have been more responsive, more generous, more exciting. I can’t thank them enough”, smiled Brown. Ironically, the shamrocks on the Celtics’ banners hanging from the rafters unintentially coordinated with the Irish step-dancing program. Brown’s total score was 270.08. The 2013 US National Champion, Max Aaron, placed third with 173.49 points for his performance to Carmen. The Colorado trained skater opened with a 13.80-point 4S/2T combination, but then struggled with the single 4S and 3F. “I had two flaws, but I feel satisfied that I gave it a good attack”, said the disappointed Aaron. Six of his jump passes were after the halfway mark and received an increased base value. Aaron finished 10 points behind the silver medalist with a total score of 260.44.