Ellenton's Bartholomay and Zhang named to U.S. Olympic team

rdymond@bradenton.comJanuary 13, 2014 

MANATEE -- It's 2010 all over again.

In 2010, both pair skaters who represented the United States at the Vancouver Olympics trained at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex.

Area figure skating fans learned Sunday they can root for another Olympic-bound pair skating team.

Nathan Bartholomay and Felicia Zhang were officially named to Team USA heading to Sochi, Russia, after winning a silver medal Saturday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston.

"Obviously, I am feeling a huge amount of pride," said coach Jim Peterson after an Olympic committee chose the pair. "I feel my faith has been renewed in the judging system. A lot of hard work paid off for them."

Said Zhang in an online post: "Wow, what a week. I can not be more proud and honored to be a part of Team USA. A dream come true. Hard work really does pay off and I can not be more excited. Thank you to all of my friends, family, and all who have been a part of this journey and for the competitions to come. I still can't believe it."

Bartholomay and Zhang will follow the 2010 pairs of Caydee Denney and partner

Jeremy Barrett and Amanda Evora and partner Mark Ladwig who represented Ellenton in the Olympics.

Evora, now a coach in Ellenton, and Ladwig, who is still close to the Ellenton skate program, finished 10th in Vancouver, the best finish for the Americans.

Sunday turned out to be a stellar day for Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex and for the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.

Beside Bartholomay and Zhang, Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, who train part-time in Ellenton, made the Canadian Olympic team, said Karen Chinault, president of the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club.

Those pairs are joined by Stacy Kemp and David King of Great Britain, who train in Ellenton and have already qualified for the Olympics.

Beyond that, Ellenton senior pair skaters Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea, who finished sixth at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, earned a berth Sunday at the Four Continents, the last major international skating event before the Olympic games, Peterson said.

"Tarah and Danny just got awarded Four Continents because of their placement and performance at Nationals," Peterson said.

For Ellenton and America's newest stars, Bartholomay and Zhang, Sunday was a torrent of activity. After spending two hours with the world media, the pair had meetings to deal with the coming month's travel plans.

"We are getting the visas together," Peterson said.

Bartholomay and Zhang, along with other skating members of the U.S. Olympic team, were feted in a celebration Sunday, Peterson said.

"It's a black-tie affair, a celebration announcing the team, and all the Olympians in town are coming," Peterson added.

Peterson said Bartholomay and Zhang will probably leave the United States on Feb. 1 and train in Europe before heading to Russia.

Before one of their dinners and parties, Zhang talked about her partner.

"Nathan is a very hard worker," Zhang said. "His optimism always works toward finding the best in a situation. Physically, he is also very strong."

Bartholomay also talked about Zhang.

"She's capable of dealing with stubborn people, AKA, me," Bartholomay said. "I'm a little hard-headed. She has a way of working out situations I get us into and keeping our team on the right track."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.

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