COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- U.S. pairs skaters Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, who trained in Ellenton and thrilled local fans by earning a trip to the Sochi Olympics, officially ended their partnership Wednesday when Zhang retired.
The announcement means both American teams that competed in Sochi have split. Two-time U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir said in May they were moving on.
Zhang and Bartholomay finished second behind Castelli and Shnapir at nationals in January, then placed 12th at the Olympics. The 25-year-old Bartholomay, from Pennsylvania, is interested in finding a new partner. The 20-year-old Zhang, who was born in New York and grew up in New Jersey, will attend USF full time in pursuit of a psychology degree.
"I want to thank my family, friends and everyone who supported us through our career together," Zhang said in a statement. "I want to also thank coaches Jim Peterson, Lyndon Johnston and Amanda Evora for the countless hours of work they put in to help us reach our highest potential. ... Thank you to Nate for the three seasons of hard work and determination. I wish him the best of luck in the future."
Zhang first took up the sport after skating at a birthday party at age 7. Her parents, both of whom are from Beijing, sacrificed to allow her to pursue her dream of skating in the Olympics.
She won the 2010 U.S. junior pairs championship with partner Taylor Toth before teaming up with Bartholomay in 2011. Zhang and Bartholomay claimed bronze in the U.S. Championships in 2013 and silver in 2014, earning their place at the Olympics.
"Although I am saddened by her retirement, I support her decision and wish her all the best in her future," Bartholomay said in a release. "I will never forget our experience in Sochi and the dream that was fulfilled. I'm looking forward to moving on with my career and representing the United States in the next Olympic cycle."
The United States has struggled in pairs recently as teams have failed to stay together. Castelli and Shnapir were ninth in Sochi as the U.S. narrowly improved on its worst-ever Olympic showing in pairs four years earlier.
In that Olympics, both U.S. pairs trained at Ellenton. Evora and Mark Ladwig placed 10th, and Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett came in 13th.