Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue beat US rivals for Skate America gold


Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue compete in the ice dance free skate at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating – Skate America on October 24, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LAS VEGAS – Another chapter in America’s longest-running figure skating rivalry was written on Sunday as Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue edged Madison Chock and Evan Bates to win a fourth straight Skate America crown on Sunday at Orleans Arena.

Only 1.31 points separate the total scores of the ice dance teams, with Hubbell and Donohue taking the win with 209.54 points against 208.23 for Chock and Bates. The result of the free dance was even tighter: Hubbell and Donohue got 125.96 points, compared to 125.68 for Chock and Bates. This is the third time in a row that the reigning American champions have beaten their friends and training partners in competition.

“Something clicked this morning, and I was feeling really good in training, and I just really wanted to skate for myself and really be there with Zach and present with the crowd from start to finish,” Hubbell said. , 30 years. “I think we really achieved that goal and in doing so also achieved the other goal of going out with gold.

The scores were so tight that losing just one level on an item – or a slight hesitation on a twizzle – could have made the difference.

“We are very excited to continue to grow this season, to gain more points where we can (and) work on our (elements) techniques in rhythm dance,” said Chock, 29. “But we are absolutely delighted with how this week has gone.

The two couples made their debut on the stage in the 2011-12 season, after a long career with other partners. Since then, they have fought for positions in the highly competitive US ice dance rankings and have often faced each other for medals at the World Figure Skating Championships. Since 2018, they have been training side by side at the Montreal Ice Academy (I.AM).

Yet skaters hesitate to call themselves rivals.

“We’re not in any way trying to play games or bully each other or anything like that,” Hubbell said. “It’s usually very close. We know that when they are doing their best, we must also do our best. When we found out they were going to be at Skate America we assumed we had to be in amazing shape. So we did whatever we needed to do to (be prepared) for this challenge, and they definitely put it in place. … They didn’t make it easy. We expect him to be near until we retire.

“I feel like the word rivalry is used too often with a negative connotation,” said Bates, 32. “They shaped a lot of how we work and how we are motivated. I don’t think we would be the team we are without years and years of close competition. It’s a rivalry, but a good rivalry. Both teams want to win, but not at the expense of respect and friendship.

As usual, the team’s free dances are a study of contrasts. Hubbell and Donohue perform a sensitive and lyrical program on Anne Sila’s “Drowning” that reaches a dramatic climax. Skating to the music of Daft Punk, Chock and Bates tell the otherworldly story of an astronaut and an alien’s relationship, from curiosity and conflict to understanding and, eventually, love. .

Both teams performed clean and exuberant programs on Sunday, each putting the Las Vegas crowd on their feet. Hubbell and Donohue’s ratings were just a little higher for technical elements and program components.

Romain Haguenauer, one of the main coaches for both couples, is happy with the skaters’ efforts at Skate America, but believes both teams can do much better.

“The scores are very close, so (the result) is a matter of taste and also of momentum, the toss, who skates before you, how the judges take your performance,” Haguenauer said.

“They did their best for what they could do today, but it is far from what they will have to do in a few months to be able to stand on the Olympic podium,” he added. . “So we’re going to take a moment to enjoy the moment, congratulate everyone and drink a glass of champagne. Next, we’ll analyze the (judges’ ratings) to find ways to maximize each item.

Team USA‘s Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov, who train in Leesburg, Va. With a team led by Alexei Kiliakov, placed ninth with 156.97 points.

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