BOSTON (AP) -- Hometown favorites Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir had a huge lead after the pairs short program at the U.S. figure skating championships.
The defending champs had 73.13 points Thursday, good for a cushion of 6.63 over second-place Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.
Castelli's jaw dropped when the marks were announced.
"I was in shock at first; I was not expecting that," she said. "I like to try to calculate it in my head. I would have been happy with 66 or 67, so it was just insane."
Castelli and Shnapir represent Skating Club of Boston, and the crowd was screaming for the two New Englanders from the moment they took the ice to warm up for their performance, the last of the afternoon.
The roars swelled as they skated to "Black Magic Woman" and "Smooth" by Carlos Santana. Their speed on the ice and the height of their jumps were on another level from the rest of the competition, and when Castelli smoothly landed a big throw triple salchow, Shnapir might have thought from the reaction that his beloved Bruins had just scored a goal at TD Garden.
"Props to the crowd -- that was more than we could have asked for," Shnapir said. "The energy in the house was enormous and it really helped us. It was kind of humbling to know how many people are supporting us and were cheering us on."
The real competition during Saturday's free skate could be for the United States' second Olympic spot. Zhang and Bartholomay lead third-place DeeDee Leng and Timothy LeDuc by 0.1 points.
Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, the 2012 champs, returned after missing last year's nationals as he recovered from hip surgery. But she did a double toeloop instead of a planned triple on their side-by-side jumps, and her hand touched on her throw triple flip. The mistakes left them in fourth, a point behind Leng and LeDuc.