by Liz Leamy
The three teams who comprise the 2018 U.S. Olympic dance contingent seem as eager and laser-focused as ever to clinch some coveted hardware in PyeongChang.
This talented group, which includes Maia & Alex Shibutani, the three-time World medalists and two-time U.S. titlists; Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, the 2018 U.S. champions; and Madison Chock & Evan Bates, the two-time World medalists (silver in 2015 and bronze in 2016), all seem determined to make the podium in this event, which will be held Sunday, February 18th and Monday, February 19th.
In the end, however, any one of these three U.S. teams could end up on the podium, potentially standing alongside some of the highest-seeded dance duos from other countries that are expected to score medals in this competition.
Current leaders of this discipline, aside from the American teams, include Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron of France, the 2015 and 2016 World titlists; Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, the 2017 Canadian World champions, 2010 Olympic gold medalists and 2014 Olympic silver medalists; and Ekaterina Brobrova & Dmitri Soloviev of Russia, according to the ISU World standings.
Maia & Alex Shibutani, the 2017/18 ISU Championship Grand Prix Final bronze medalists (who wound up behind Papadakis & Cizeron and Virtue & Moir, who were first and second, respectively) could bring home hardware if they skate in their customary stellar fashion, something that seems likely based upon the strength of their practices over the past three weeks leading up to these Olympic Games.
“We’re really proud of the work we’ve done with all of our programs,” said Maia Shibutani, 23, who, along with her brother, Alex, 26, train with the iconic Marina Zoueva in Canton, Michigan. “The Olympics are a very unique competition. We know we’re really prepared for [it].”
“We know what we’re capable of,” said Alex. “We’re looking to put out the strongest performances of our season at this competition.”
This decorated brother and sister duo, who originally hails from Greenwich, Connecticut and have been residing in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the past 10 years, said they are extremely proud to represent the U.S. at the PyeongChang Olympics.
“We know the power of the [Olympic] Games,” said Alex. “We’re going to do our best to bring home hardware for the U.S.”
Madison Hubbell, 26, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Zachary Donohue, 27, a Madison, Connecticut native, are also geared up for a strong outing in PyeongChang.
This talented team, who trains with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon in Montreal, ought to be good for racking up some high scores at this competition based upon their smooth, powerful and engaging skating style.
Madison Chock, 25, and Evan Bates, 28, the dynamic team who train with the esteemed Igor Shpilband in Novi, Michigan, are also expected to do well at this event
“Realistically, we have our sites set on the podium,” said Bates.
Chock & Bates, who were eighth at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, are particularly excited about enjoying the whole Olympic experience for a second time together.
“We know how rare it is to go to the Olympics and in that aspect, we can really appreciate the whole Olympic experience so much more,” said Chock. “[I hope to also] meet new people and athletes and hopefully have time to watch other sports.”