by Liz Leamy
(22 October 2021) Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, the powerhouse American dance duo who are three-time U.S. titlists and three-time World medalists, are prepared to face off against some of the world’s best at the 2021 Guaranteed Skate America at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
This event, which will be held October 22nd through the 24th, is one that Hubbell & Donohue, who train with Marie France-Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer in Montreal, have been looking forward to and preparing for intensively.
“We’re looking forward to competing,” said Hubbell, who grew up in Lansing, Michigan, adding that this will be the couple’s fourth time that they have competed at that venue. (They competed there at the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Skate America events and also at the U.S. Championships last January.) “We know the arena and setup there. It’s always an advantage to know the arena.”
Hubbell & Donohue, who have competed together for more than 11 years, appear to be more on point than ever going into the 2021-2022 Olympic season.
This year, the two have concentrated on increasing the levels of difficulty on their technical elements, particularly with lifts.
“Without high risk you don’t have change or reward,” said Donahue, who is originally from Madison, Connecticut. “We wanted to elevate [the standard] of our lifts and worked over a year on this [particular] lift.” (This season, Hubbell and Donohue are planning to do a combination lift with a complex entry as part of their technical repertoire.)
Hubbell said she is excited about the idea of continuing to raise the team’s technical bar.
“I have an incredible partner and feel really secure in that lift,” said Hubbell. “We wanted to make sure we ticked off all the boxes and I’m just very grateful that Zach is incredibly strong.”
This year, Hubbell & Donohue plan to skate to a hip-hop compilation of various Janet Jackson tunes such as ‘Rhythm Nation,’ ‘Rope Burn’ and ‘Nasty’ for their short dance.
For their free dance, the duo will be skating to Anna Sila’s compelling piece, ‘Drowning.’
Both of these programs were choreographed by Marie France-Dubreuil and Samuel Chouinard.
Meanwhile, Hubbell & Donahue said they are excited about the idea of skating in front of a live audience again at Skate America next week.
“We’ve missed the interaction and we’re looking forward to having a bit of a more personal experience [with] live audiences,” said Hubbell. “To make eye contact and share the moment with those who love the sport is amazing.”
Hubbell & Donohue also expounded on their love of skating together, especially having had the experience of competing at so many high-level events, including the Olympic Games.
“We have a certain love and appreciation for what we’re doing and who we are as competitors. Through the Olympics, there have been so many amazing opportunities and connections [that have been made],” said Donohue. “It is such an all-inclusive journey and so empowering in that way.”
Hubbell further elaborated on this topic, “The Olympics were life changing,” said Hubbell about her experience of competing at the 2018 Olympics. “We’re definitely staying present and enjoying the journey.”
At Skate America, Hubbell & Donahue will compete against other prominent teams that include Madison Chock & Evan Bates, the 2021 U.S. silver medalists and two-time World medalists (who also train in Montreal), Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen, the Canadian silver medalists and Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro of Russia.