Cranston, Rhode Island native Marissa Castelli is known in the skating world for her flexibility and strength, but also for her height difference with partner Simon Shnapir.
At five feet tall Marissa stands more than a foot shorter than Simon who checks in at six feet four inches tall.
The stark contrast making all those throws even more dramatic.
The 23-year-old's mom is a figure skating instructor and Marissa started skating at just three years old.
“It was just fun to be with my mom on the ice together, and she would hold onto me and spin me really, really fast,” Marissa said.
Then she just kept on gliding.
“I enjoyed it because I would do all of these cool tricks and I was doing things that other kids in my class weren't doing and I thought it was cool so that's how it started. Then after a while, I fell in love with it,” she said.
As a kid, Marissa excelled at both gymnastics and skating.
In the end, she chose to focus figure skating, but her background in gymnastics gave her an advantage.
“Marissa is a little rock star. That girl has flexibility and presence and Simon does a great job of presenting her and framing her,” her coach said.
Despite being named national pairs champions with Simon twice there have been tough times when she considered giving it all up.
“It's always in the back of your head. We’ve gotten to a point where this sport became so physical and so like time consuming that it's like, is it really worth it? In the end, at the end of the day, we are always in our heads like, yes, it is worth it,” she said.
Especially worth it when she was announced to the US Olympic team.
“I can't think of a better way to represent Cranston and Rhode Island and I’m just so excited. You know a lot of people, when I was little or tiny, would be like 'are you going to the Olympics?’ I would say 'probably not,’ but now I can say ‘I’m going to the Olympics and I’m going to be an Olympian,’” Marissa said.
Hometown: Cranston, R.I.
Date of Birth: 08/20/1990
Coach: Bobby Martin, Carrie Wall, Mark Mitchell
Choreographer: Julie Marcotte
Competes For: United States
Castelli started skating at age 4 because her mother, Lori, and is a figure skating coach ... Participated in the Basic Skills Program from 1996-99 ... Formerly skated with Brad Vigorito ... Had a collision in 2009-10 with an Italian skater and received 15 stitches to her inner thigh, an injury that kept her off the ice for a month.