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The Inside Edge: Next season likely Miner's last

Castelli, Tran taking stress-free approach; Ronzio, Morgan call it quits
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Three-time U.S. medalist Ross Miner indicated the 2017-18 season could be his last on the competitive circuit. -Getty Images

Miner contemplates future in Boston

Every year, shortly after the World Figure Skating Championships conclude, the Skating Club of Boston puts on its "Ice Chips" show. The event has been happening for more than 100 years, and the club says it's the longest-running show in the United States.

The theme for the 2017 version of "Ice Chips" was "The Lights Are Bright on Broadway." After seeing the Broadway production The Lion King in 2013, producer/director Matt Lind, with the assistance of cast member Derrick Davis, came up with the idea of a Broadway theme.

Davis is touring in The Phantom of the Opera and wasn't able to perform in the show last weekend, but he suggested that Jelani Remy might be available to make the trip to Boston. Remy, 27, has been appearing in The Lion King for six years in Las Vegas and on Broadway, where he plays the lead role of Simba.

On a small stage set up on the ice at the end of the rink, Remy sang "On Broadway" to open the show, while hordes of skaters performed. He opened the second half with "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and performed "Seasons of Love" for another group number. Finally, he sang "New York State of Mind" while Ross Miner performed his signature program. The two matched perfectly and interacted with each other at various moments.

"I've never sung at a figure skating event before," Remy said. "It's even more difficult, I think, because in a show you have a role to play, and here we're both just telling our stories, just with the song or the skate, so it's cool."

Remy said that Miner and guest star Javier Fernández had been teaching him a few moves -- off the ice, though.

"I'm not on skates yet, I'm just doing the floor. I'm doing flat-work on dry land," he said. "I skated in Central Park this winter, and I did not fall."

Before the matinée, Remy, Fernández, Miner, Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran hung out in the dressing room, where Tran strummed away on the ukulele.

"Sometimes I bring my guitar to shows, but I decided to bring my ukulele because it's less to carry around," Tran said. "It's a nice little hobby on the side. It gives me something to do during shows because there's lots of waiting around between numbers and performances."

The conversation meandered to tennis, one of Miner's passions. He mentioned that Roger Federer had just beaten Spaniard Rafael Nadal at the Miami Open.

"He could be good at any sport," Miner said of Federer. "He could be a figure skater."

"You know what I like about Federer?" Fernández chimed in. "In so many matches, even though he just lost a really good point, he still appreciates the winning of his opponent. You can see it. Sometimes he'll clap for the other person."

"Are you good at tennis, Javi?" Miner asked.

"I took tennis for a few years," Fernández said. "It's a really hard sport to play and have fun with somebody."

Miner asked Fernández if he had ever met Nadal, and he said he had, two or three years ago, at the Madrid Open.

"Who's more popular in Spain, you or Rafa?" Miner asked. "You, right?"

Fernández burst out laughing.

"That's right -- because figure skating is our national sport in Spain," Fernández said. "We're born with skates on already. We skate on the lakes in the wintertime."

Miner, always a good sport, joined young club skaters on the ice for the "Boys Number." He says he has been skating in the show for 14 years but has still been able to keep up with his studies, among other things.

"I'm working on a computer science course right now, which is kind of kicking my butt," he said, laughing.

Miner is going to keep his free skate next season, and he has a brand new short program, but he isn't ready to reveal the music yet. He confirmed that next season will probably be his last as a competitor.

"It feels like it's time," he said. "I have a lot going on that I'm interested in," he said.

The three-time U.S. medalist has had to cope with disappointment at the last two U.S. championships, finishing fifth both years after second-place short programs.

"I'd love to make the Olympic team and represent the U.S. -- that's the reason to stick around," he said. "It's a little bit frustrating to me to see the end result of nationals and then to have that be what's remembered, and to know I got so close. I just have to cross the finish line. It's still really early in the season, so it's hard to be saying what I'm going to be doing in January of next year. Obviously, adding more technical content is the goal."

Castelli, Tran looking forward to stress-free year

Much like their teammate Miner, Castelli and Tran have dealt with their fair share of disappointment. Following a silver medal-winning performance in Kansas City, they were passed over for the Four Continents team in favor of bronze medalists Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, who are eligible to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. An appearance in Pyeongchang is off the table for Castelli and Tran since Tran is not a U.S. citizen.

Castelli, an Olympic team medalist in 2014, says they are OK with the situation.

"Honestly, I feel like it's going to be totally fine for us because we're just here for another season like normal, so there's no extra pressure," she said. "It's not live-all, die-all for us, so we just go out there and do our jobs. We enjoy our skating, perhaps a little more than everyone else, because we're not as stressed out.

"With all the commotion that happened after nationals, there was nothing we could do," she continued. "We can't complain, because the U.S. has been great by helping us with everything. It's what they thought was best, so there's nothing we can say. Right now, we're just going to continue our training."

"We're looking forward to next season, next year," Tran added. "We're really confident. We've been training hard."

Castelli is looking forward to a vacation she and her boyfriend, David Leenen, are taking to New Orleans. Leenen is graduating from medical school this year and heading to Brown University for his residency, with the goal of becoming a surgeon. He is a former skater who competed at the U.S. championships as a novice and junior pairs skater in 2010 and 2011.

Castelli and Leenen have been dating for eight years, and she's happy that her boyfriend will soon be relocating to Rhode Island, where her family lives.

"We're finally going to pretty much be in the same area -- at least the same time zone," she said with a smile. "I'm still going to be up in Montreal, but I'm going to be taking more trips home. It's going to be really nice, especially since it's an easy drive."

In the "Ice Chips" show, Castelli and Tran skated a high-energy number to "Groove Is in the Heart." Other U.S. medalists appearing in the event included Emmy Ma, Maxim Naumov and Megan Wessenberg. Apart from the stars, the show featured hundreds of young skaters performing in group numbers and solo acts.

Shaughnessy Ronzio, Morgan split

The popular senior pairs team of Alexandria Shaughnessy Ronzio and Jimmy Morgan, who won bronze at the 2016 U.S. International Classic, have called it quits.

Morgan said he is looking for another partner but is also interested in pursuing outside opportunities.

"I'm so proud of everything we accomplished in the eight years we were together," Morgan wrote in a text message. "And a huge thank you to our families, coaches and fans who supported us for so long." 

"I would definitely like to express gratitude to Jimmy, my coaches, everyone at U.S. Figure Skating and the fans," Ronzio wrote. "I'm so proud of what we have done together, what we have been through, and how we overcame obstacles and grew together. I'm very sad I don't get to hold his hand every day, but I am so happy to look back on our eight-year career and smile. I only have feelings of love and respect for Jimmy. As for the future, I am just keeping all of my options open and seeing what comes my way."

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