BOSTON — From Boston, with concern for their city and all that it went through after the marathon bombings.
To Russia, with love.
After showing up to a mid-week news conference in a Boston Bruins T-shirt and ski cap, Simon Shnapir turned to a Saville Row-style shirt and tie — accessorized by a gun holster — for a James Bond-themed routine with Marissa Castelli that earned them the pairs title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday
“I grabbed her hand and I said, ‘Let’s just stay out here for a second and enjoy this moment,’” Shnapir said after the victory put them in position for a spot on the U.S. team for the Sochi Olympics. “Who knows if we’ll ever have an opportunity like this again?’
Skating to the music from Skyfall, Castelli and Shnapir totaled 205.71 points to protect the lead they built with the top performance Thursday in the short program.
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.
“Right now we’re just still in shock ourselves,” Castelli said. “We’re just trying to process everything.”
Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay finished second with 201.72 points. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin moved up to third, with 201.43s, after receiving the highest score in Saturday’s free skate.
“We didn’t leave anything on the table. We skated just as hard and as passionate as we could,” Bartholomay said. “We’re both just completely on Cloud 9 right now. We are aware that second place is not locked in. But we gave it everything we had against some tremendous competition.”
Shnapir, of suburban Sudbury, and Castelli, of Cranston, R.I., said they felt for the city after the Boston Marathon bombings in April that killed three and wounded at least 260 others. And the 2013 champions welcomed the chance to defend the title in their hometown.
Skating in front of their home crowd on the rink the Bruins call home, 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 shaken, but nor stirred.
“We left some points on the table, but we’re really thrilled with the result here,” Shnapir said, adding that they did not consider ditching the quad. “There really wasn’t a decision. We’d been doing it all year. ... We don’t make any changes last minute.”
When they finished at the center of the rink where their hometown 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.