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Skating pair move up the ranks, aim for future

Sarah Brannen

Partners Alexandria Shaughnessy and James Morgan won a bronze medal at the US Figure Skating Championships.

DUXBURY - Nineteen-year-old Duxbury figure skater Alexandria Shaughnessy and her partner, James Morgan, skated to a bronze medal at the US Figure Skating Championships in San Jose last week, winning the medal in the Novice Pairs division.

Shaughnessy’s family made the trip to California, and when medals were announced, “My mom was crying, my dad was proud, and my brother Jim was so happy for me,’’ the Duxbury skater said.

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The bronze medal victory was particularly sweet in light of the challenges the pair of skaters faced over the last year. Morgan underwent extensive surgery for an injured shoulder last June, just as the competitive season got underway.

“We lost a whole summer of training, which left us with a short training season,’’ Shaughnessy said. After intensive physical therapy, Morgan returned to the ice in August.

Shaughnessy, meanwhile, faced emotional challenges as the competitive season unfolded, according to her mother, Ann. “My husband’s brother died during the Eastern Sectionals, and my mother died just before Christmas,’’ Ann said.

The skating partners kept their focus and qualified for last Sunday and Monday’s national event by securing top honors in November as US Eastern Sectional champions. In the ensuing weeks, Shaughnessy and Morgan trained 15 hours on the ice and five off every week.

The pair also spent hours with their trainer, working on strength training, interval training, and cardio - gaining the stamina needed to perform challenging short and long programs at the US championships.

Last week’s performance included a variety of elements, including lifts, spirals, throws, a double twist, a death spiral, and synchronized moves and spins. Shaughnessy’s petite stature, at 5-foot-2 and 100 pounds, lightened the burden.

“We weren’t sure how my shoulder would be by the end of the season, but it was really solid,’’ Morgan said. “I felt 100 percent in the competition.’’

Shaughnessy, who started skating when she was 4, competes in singles as well as pairs, and has been successful in those solo forays on the ice. Last October, she won a bronze medal at the regional level and came in sixth at the Eastern Sectional event.

“Each discipline has its good and bad points, but I personally prefer being out there with my partner,’’ said Shaughnessy, who started pairs skating three years ago with Morgan, a Windham, N.H., resident. “He’s like my best friend, and I stay calm with him,’’ she said.

Ann Shaughnessy enjoys watching her daughter compete, but says it is nerve-racking.

“It’s a high athletic level,’’ she said, recalling Alexandria’s torn ligaments and sprained muscles over the years. “It makes me nervous, but I just hope for the best.’’

Shaughnessy plans to start college classes at Northeastern University this spring, majoring in business management, while Morgan will continue as a full-time student at Boston University.

They say they will stay committed to their rigorous training schedule, practicing at the Skating Club of Boston. The pair will move from the novice to junior division next season, where the competition will be stiffer.

“Jimmy and I are taking it one year at a time, but we hope to compete internationally for the United States and maybe one day go to the Olympics,’’ Shaughnessy said.

“You only get one life, and we both want to see how far we can go with skating.’’

Christine Legere can be reached at christinelegere@yahoo.com.
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