Local Olympic skater’s family heads to Russia

(WPRI) – The Olympic kick off in Sochi is just days away, which means the wait is almost over for the family of Cranston figure skater Marissa Castelli.

The Castelli family left Monday on an around-the-world flight bound for Russia. Once there, they’ll settle into accommodations in Sochi before gearing up to cheer on Marissa as she competes with the U.S. Figure Skating team.

“Right now the hard part’s over,” Marissa’s father, Tony Castelli, told Eyewitness News. “This is further than I ever thought we would be and so no matter what happens, you know, it’s great.”

Marissa’s mother, Lori Castelli, said she is excited to take in the sights and sounds of the Winter Olympics as they watch their daughter go for the gold. A figure skating coach herself, Lori has been watching Marissa skate since she was 3 years old.

“Look at her, she’s destined for it,” said Castelli as she flipped through old photographs from Marissa’s early skating competitions.

“She’ll ask me my opinion and I just tell her she looked beautiful,” Castelli said. “And she says ‘technically, mom, how was I?’ and I said good, really good.”

The Castellis said security concerns at the Sochi games won’t prevent the family from enjoying the once in a lifetime adventure.

“Of course it goes through my mind but I’m not going to let it interrupt the joy that I’m going to have, seeing my daughter and her partner go out there for the Olympics and representing the USA,” said Castelli.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, her partner of eight years, left for the games last weekend.

Back in Cranston, Castelli’s grandfather John Boitano says it’s no surprise Marissa secured a spot on the American figure skating team.

“I always expected that she would be unbelievable going for some profession,” said Boitano. “My favorite name for he was ‘Sparkalina’ –in Italian, she wanted to sparkle and she did it.”

Stay with WPRI.com for continuing coverage and exclusive photos from the Castelli family as they watch Marissa go for the gold.

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