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|The pair to beat|
|Written by Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, 18 December 2013 10:54|
Duxbury’s own Alex Shaughnessy and her partner Jimmy Morgan are taking the pairs figure skating world by storm.
selection to the 2014 Olympic figure skating team, the Championships will prove to be an exciting competition for the newest kids on the block.
Shaughnessy, a Duxbury High School 2011 graduate, and Morgan will make their debut as senior skaters at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships hosted by the Skating Club of Boston, where the pair practice. The last qualifying competition before selection to the 2014 Olympic figure skating team, the Championships will prove to be an exciting competition for the newest kids on the block.
The pair qualified for the national championships in the fall, before the sectional competition, but decided to go to sectionals to have a chance to perform their program in front of the judges and to get one more competition under their belt.
Shaughnessy began skating at four years old and competed for many years in the singles competitions in New England, eventually moving up to sectionals and nationals, where she has medaled. As a pair, Shaughnessy and Morgan have had a quick ascension up the competition ladder. The two were U.S novice bronze medalists in 2012 at the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in San Jose and won the gold at the 2012 Eastern Sectionals. In 2013, they won silver at the Eastern Sectional and placed 10th at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha.
Shaughnessy and Morgan received their long program in April and their short program in May and have been practicing Monday through Friday, three hours on the ice and one hour off the ice, since. In addition, both skaters are in school; Shaughnessy is studying business management through Northeastern University’s online program, and Morgan is in his last year as a full-time student at Boston University.
When she is not practicing her routines for the nationals’ competition, Shaughnessy is a junior coach at Boston Skating Club. In between practice and coaching, she spends her down time studying business and philosophy.
It’s very busy, but on days when I don’t have time to go back to my apartment it’s a good place to get my studying done,” she said. “I like keeping up a busy pace.”
In 2008, Shaughnessy and Morgan were put together as a pair and have been skating ever since. Over the years they have developed a brother-sister relationship and Shaughnessy even received a Christmas card from Morgan’s grandparents this year, addressed to “granddaughter.”
“We are best friends,” she said. “We tease each other like brother and sister and can walk into each other’s homes and just take food from the pantry. Now that’s a best friend.”
Shaughnessy said she no longer gets nervous before competitions because she knows she can depend on Mor- gan to be there as both a friend and a partner. When asked if the pair had any pre-program rituals, she said the two like to dance around to music beforehand and get themselves psyched up.
"It's nice because he's with me the whole time," she said. "You can't really see it while we are performing, but we talk each other through the whole thing. We don't get butterflies because we are nervous anymore, we get them because we are excited."
Ann Shaughnessy, Alex’s mother, said she is proud of her daughter and Morgan, whom she says, “is like a son” to her.
“I am, admittedly, a klutz, and I didn’t want Alex to be like me while skating on the cranberry bogs with the other kids, so we put her in lessons,” she said.
For Shaughnessy, competing in Boston in January holds extra excitement, as her friends and family will be able to watch her perform in person. While some talk of Olympic potential, Shaughnessy said she and Morgan are happy to have made it to nationals as senior skaters.
“I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me the chance to go,” she said, “but we are just so happy to have made it this far. Maybe you will see us in the 2018 Olympics.”