by Carly Gold
Defending Ice Dance Champions Lead After Short Dance
(6 January 2018) The undeniable winners of the Ice Dance short dance are Alex & Maia Shibutani with a score 82.33 points. The Shibs performed their saucy short dance to a combination of Perez Prado’s “Mambo No. 5” and “Cha Cha-Cherry Pink” for the Mambo, and “Mambo Jambo/Mambo No. 8” for their Samba. Every movement was on point, and they were stellar from start to finish. The team was awarded straight plus 3s on 2 of the 5 elements. In addition, the Shibutanis received the highest components of the event, with a score of 37.66 points.
“Alex and I are really happy with the performance we put out today. We have been working really hard since the Grand Prix Series ended, and considering this is the last competition before the Olympics, this is really where we want to be right now,” Maia Shibutani stated after their performance.
The siblings updated their costumes for these Championships, and looked as lovely as ever. Maia dawned a glamorous hot pink, low V-neck, sleeveless dress with a long, ruffled skirt. Alex matched her plunging neckline in a flattering bronze-colored top.
“We were going into a new year, and obviously with the Games coming up, we just thought it was something nice that we could do to keep the program fresh for us and for the audience. They’re not dramatically different than what we had before, but we were looking to make a couple of adjustments, and we are very happy with the costumes we have now.”
The Shibutanis have worked hard since the 2014 Sochi Games, where they placed 9th, to establish themselves as the top team heading into the 2018 Games. They are leading by more than three points going into Sunday’s free dance, so they have a very solid shot at defending their title in this year’s Championships.
Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue placed second in the segment. Their sharp short dance performed to “Le Serpent”, “Cuando Calienta el Sol”, and “Sambando” racked up a strong 79.10 points going into Sunday’s free dance event.
“Zachary and I are pleased with our performance. We were a little bit nervous going in, but we really stayed together as a team and created our own little bubble. We’re looking forward to the free dance on Sunday,” Hubbell said.
Madison and Zach are looking to qualify for their first Olympic Games, and the strong showing in the short puts them in a great position to be selected for the team.
Chock & Bates scored 77.61 points for their short dance to a Marc Anthony Medley of “Aguanile”, “Que Lio”, and “Vivir Mi Vida”. The team scored lower than the top two finishers in components. Chock and Bates had a higher base value than Hubbell and Donohue by a tenth of a point, but received lower GOEs on elements.
In the post-event presser, Bates commented, “Madi and I are really happy with our skate today too. Right afterwards we played with some puppies in the puppy pens. We are feeling great.” (Milkbone is an official sponsor for these U.S. Championships.)
Chock & Bates are looking to return to their 2nd Olympics, placing 8th in their first Games in 2014. They will close out the free dance event on Sunday.
Placing fourth in the short dance, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean Luc Baker performed a fiery short to a mash up of “Get Busy” by Sean Paul, “Soha Mil Paso”, and Pitull’s “Fireball”. The team performed a remarkable maneuver in the final seconds of their program, where Hawayek actually lifted Baker off the ice in a dramatic two-legged fan kick. I was blown away! The team scored 73.18 points for the segment, and will skate 10th in the free dance event.
Rachel & Michael Parsons sit in fifth after the today’s event with 72.69 points. The reigning U.S. Junior Champions had a strong showing in the short dance at their Championships Senior debut, skating to a medley of “Mambo Molly” and “Congo Crazed” by Mambo Molly. The Parsons didn’t have the strongest showing on the Grand Prix Circuit, but they definitely have a lot of potential as a team. It’s only their first showing at the Championships at the Senior level, and I’m excited to see how this team progresses in the next few years.
In the post-competition presser, the top three teams were asked if they would want to compete in the team event if they qualified for the Olympics. Each team responded that if the selection committee chose them, they would be honored to compete. Maia Shibutani answered, “Competing on Olympics ice and representing Team USA is really such a huge honor, so Alex and I would love to compete on the team event as well as the individual event.”
“Like our friends here, we would also like to compete in the team event. The more you can skate on Olympic ice, the better. There is no greater feeling,” Chock added.