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Castelli, Shnapir plan throw triple Axel

Alissa Czisny reworks her jumps

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are planning a throw triple Axel in their free skate.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are planning a throw triple Axel in their free skate. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/29/2010) - Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir aren't letting a recent injury to Shnapir's lower back limit their ambition to try the throw triple Axel in their Avatar free skate.

"About two weeks ago, we found out Simon had a bulging disk," Castelli said. "He was off the ice for a little while. He had a cortisone shot on Monday, and he recovered fast and is feeling better. The doctor gave us the go ahead."

Shnapir waved off the injury, saying, "I'm past that. At this level, any athlete is going to have an injury of some sort. You have to manage them."

Castelli, who rotated the throw at the Mid-Atlantics competition in September, said it's getting stronger all the time.

"Trying it here is totally about getting mileage on it. We did it at Mids, even though we knew it wasn't really ready, just for practice. We want to land it at nationals. Here [at Skate Canada] we want to get the call [credit for rotations] and show we can do it."

Shnapir gives his partner kudos for repeatedly practicing the maneuver, despite some hard falls.

"She's the gutsiest partner I could have," he said. "There's almost never a time when we won't try something, be it a new lift, a twist, or a throw. For my part [in the Axel] I just try to be consistent and throw her the same way every time."

The 6'5 skater added, "One of the reasons I like practicing the Axel is its one of the few times I can look up at her."

Czisny reworks jumps
A 10th place finish at the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships led Alissa Czisny to new coaches, Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen, and a new outlook. At age 23, she is committed to re-working her jump technique.

"We're working on everything, all the important stuff," the 2009 U.S. champion said. "It's getting there; I'm working on my technique to get [my jumps] more consistent. Mostly, it's the air position."

"We're solidifying the process of how she jumps," Dungjen said. "Remembering the correct process, repeating it and not worrying about the landing when you're entering the jump -- entrance, rotation, exit. When I say air position, it's the alignment of the body, knowing where your feet and arms are."

Quick hits
American Grant Hochstein, who just missed out on the bronze medal at Finlandia Trophy by .01, is pushing forward with his triple Axel, planning it in both his programs here.

"The percentage I'm standing up on [in practice] is much greater. It's definitely moving in the right direction."

Much as Hochstein wants to master the jump, he says there's more to skating than just one element.

"Each competition, you don't want to overlook the little details, the transitions into jumps."

U.S. junior silver medalists Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller were added to Skate Canada early this week, replacing a Russian team.

"We were counting the days until Cup of Russia, so this is a bonus for us," Miller said. "Of course we want to skate well, we want to get the job done, but we're not stressing about it."