Simon Shnapir and his partner Marissa Castelli are two-time national champions in figure skating.

They are the top pair in the United States and now Simon is going back to another country familiar to him.

Simon was born in Moscow, Russia.

“Even though I grew up here and am an American and as American as can be, I’d still like to go back and see a little bit of my roots and still have a little bit of family there in Russia to come cheer us on,” said Simon.

Simon’s parents Inna and Boris left the Soviet Union 25 years ago this March. Simon was just 16 months old.

“I didn’t see much future for me, and also we had a little child. And I knew that if he grows up in that society, nothing good…he’s not going to be a really free person. I wanted him to be different, different from what we experienced,” said Boris Shnapir, Simon’s father.

They, along with five other family members, immigrated to America, settling down in Sudbury.

Simon has only been back to Russia once, more than 10 years ago. And now, the Shnapirs have returned to Russia to see Simon compete in the Winter Olympics.

“As soon as I found out, I just sent her a quick text and she was really thrilled and sent me a message back in Russian,” Simon said.

It will be a mini reunion for the Shnapirs with family members flying in from across Russia to see Simon compete.

It won’t be Inna and Boris’s first visit to Sochi they vacationed there many years ago.

“We have, before Simon was born. We have a picture now in our house which one of our friends enlarged for one of our wedding anniversaries. It’s in the mountains of Sochi,” said Inna Shnapir, Simon’s mother.

The Shnapirs left Russia hoping for a better future for their son, and have returned now knowing it was worth it.

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