by Liz Leamy
Hubbell and Donohue Top Leaderboard
(26 January 2019) Last night, Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, the 2018 World silver medalists and 2018 U.S. Champions, lead a one-two-three leaderboard finish by the Patrice Lauzon/Marie France-Dubrueil Montreal-based team entries in the Rhythm Dance segment of the U.S. ice dance competition, held at the Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.
The degree of excellence in this event was so outstanding that even a handful of the employees at the Little Caesars Arena who said they had never seen a figure skating event of this level before live were buzzing about it.
The 12-team dance roster, comprised Hubbell & Donohue, Chock & Evan Bates, the two-time World medalists (in 2015 and 2016) and 2015 U.S. champions, along with a host of up-and-coming skaters looking to edge their way toward the pinnacle of this celebrated and dominant American discipline, was consistently strong.
Although audience attendance was somewhat sparse at this event, (according to sources, the number of spectators at this event totaled less than half compared to this same event in San Jose last year) every single one of the teams performed at an optimal level, portraying their own version of the Tango Romantica in a compelling and technically apt fashion.
Meanwhile, the teams executed their lifts with dizzying momentum and straight-line footwork that covered the entire ice length as well as practically the full rink width, which seemed to be a big ‘trend’ in step sequences this season.
The latter element, in specific, was defined by gigantic curves in and out of each of the different turns and steps and involved unexpected fun and creative ‘moments’ such as ballet jumps and other things.
Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue, the 2018 World silver medalist and 2018 U.S. titlists, who had trained in Detroit with Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova for a long time before moving to Montreal several years ago, locked in the top spot with a 84.56 and skated with fluidity, speed and terrific command of the ice.
“We went out today and focused on being our best,” said Hubbell. “That’s the focus in Montreal, to become the best version of yourself.”
Chock & Bates, meanwhile, scored second with 82.33.
This duo, known for their energy, power and flow, delivered the goods with their program, knocking out a gorgeous lift and terrific twizzles, among other memorable elements.
Clearly excited about the quality of their performance, Chock & Bates said they were happy to be back in Detroit, where they had spent many years prior training with the esteemed Igor Shpilband before moving to Montreal last summer.
Hawayek & Baker, the 2018 Four Continents and 2018 NHK champions who, like Hubbell and Donohue, had trained in Detroit with Camerlengo and Krylova before moving to Montreal (last spring), were third with their dramatic rendition of the Tango Romantica and scored a 76.77.
Hawayek said it was great to return back to Detroit to compete at this event.
“We all used to train here in Detroit,” said Hawayek. “It’s so nostalgic when we come back.”
Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponamarenko wound up fourth with their excellent rendition of the Tango Romantica, racking up a 75.23, putting them in medal contention going into the free dance.
This duo was powerful, technically apt and artistically compelling and skated like they were card-carrying members of this next generation of emerging premiere U.S. ice dancers.