Marissa Castelli’s winning routine

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Going from being a solo skater to pairing with 6-foot-4 Simon Shnapir was a big adjustment for 5-foot Marissa Castelli.

There are a few things that Marissa Castelli, a pairs skater, shares with her partner, Simon Shnapir: the same birthday (Aug. 20; they're Leos); a love of Disney; the 2013 national championship; and, perhaps not coincidentally, almost seven years of training and competing together.

"Our relationship has had its ups and downs, which is to say it's everything a relationship should be," said Castelli, who is from Cranston, R.I. "If it was steady all the time, we wouldn't grow."

As they head into the 2014 U.S. figure skating championships, which run through Jan. 12, the pair are hoping they've grown into an Olympic berth. Here's a look at Marissa's slice of the routine:

Day in the life

I usually wake up about 7:30, and leave my house at 8:30. Simon and I warm up, then we have a solo session at 9:20, a pairs session at 10:20, followed by an hour-long break. We jump on the ice for another pairs session at 12:20, and have an off-ice workout at 1:20, which could be a stretch class or a high-intensity session like a circuit of jumping and core exercises. That's a tough workout, but it's great to do toward the end of the day, when our legs are tired. It totally builds strength. My day usually closes with some physical therapy or a massage for recovery.

Snacks from the sea

Between training sessions, I like things like packets of applesauce, bananas and pumpkin seeds. When I'm done skating, I'll have a glass of chocolate milk to recover, then lunch, which is typically something like barbecue chicken and American cheese on flatbread, a yogurt, and fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite snacks these days is seaweed, which is an acquired taste.

Long and short of it

We've got the biggest height differential between most elite partners. Simon is 6-4 and I'm 5 feet. The lifts felt very high for a while, but I eventually got used to it. Now it feels awkward when other people lift me. The spins are the hardest to match since our bodies are completely different: I'm all short limbs and he's all length. I can get into positions a lot quicker than he can, and I'm more flexible, so I need to rein it in and he needs to push himself a bit so we match.

1 + 1 = hard

At first, it was really hard to go from being a solo skater to a pairs skater. The basics are the most challenging to learn: side-by-side skating, matching lines, tracking each other. We don't have to do so much of that anymore; we kind of know what each other is going to do.

Nontraditional

I like to have a GU or Cliff Bloks before I skate to make sure I have enough energy. But beyond that, I stay away from good-luck charms or traditions, because I don't want to feel like I can't skate if I lost something or fell out of a ritual. I do like to lace up my right skate before my left one, though.

Home-ice advantage

We had a mistake in our long program at the national championships last year, but we still won. It was an amazing feeling; I never thought it would happen. Now we're really pushing to get on the Olympic team. The 2014 nationals are in our hometown of Boston. We're going to have a huge cheering section, and I'm really excited.

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