By Dana Griffin
CRANSTON, RI – 23–year-old Cranston–native, Marissa Castelli had an early start thanks to her figure skating instructor, her mother.
"She was three when I actually put her on a pair of skates," said Lori Castelli.
Lori coached Marissa until she was about eight. By then, she had started basics with U.S. Figure skating.
Castelli said, "She was a very determined athlete; we'll put it that way. She does have a talent and she's very artistic so that caught everyone's eye."
The skater and her partner, Simon Shnapir are two–time, U.S. National Champions. They share the same birthday.
Although the two didn't quite mesh well when first paired in 2007, their shared determination has helped them excel.
There were stumbling blocks along the way, and a big sacrifice made by the family.
They've spent thousands to keep Marissa skating and family vacations centered around her competitions.
"There were hardly no family vacations because that's what we did and we have no regrets," said Castelli.
Flowers, cards, and emails of support have overwhelmed the family. Although Lori doesn't consider herself a mom–ager, she's got the toughest job: Encourager.
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