American figure skating pair Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay didn't expect to medal at the Sochi Games in a loaded field with strong duos from Russia, China and Germany. But they say that's not the point.

"We proved that we belong on one of these teams and we belong at the Olympic Games," Bartholomay said.

Despite a clean run to open the free skating program Wednesday night, Zhang and Bartholomay quickly dropped out of medal contention with competitors executing tougher and more sophisticated routines.

"For pairs, it has to be a stepping stone game," Bartholomay said. "We're definitely looking forward to being a front-runner for the world championships next year."

Zhang and Bartholomay, who train in Ellenton, Fla., paired up two years ago and finished fourth in the Four Continents Championships in Osaka, Japan last year.

While many athletes see the Olympics as a culmination of work, they see it as a start.

"We're looking forward to more," Zhang said.

— By Oskar Garcia — Twitter http://twitter.com/oskargarcia


Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu