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Hubbell, Donohue in top form at Ice Show

August 8, 2017
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Four-time US National bronze medalists and World competitors Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue have always been one of the most innovative and distinctive ice dance teams on the circuit.

This trend continued this past season, and in their performance at the Aug. 5 Saturday Night Ice Show in the Olympic Center.

Skating to Imagine Dragons', "Believer" and Florence and the Machine's, "Stand by Me," Hubbell and Donohue entertained the audience with their athletic and unique style. Although many consider ice dancing to be a less daring discipline due to the lack of jumps and throw jumps that characterize pairs and freestyle skating, Hubbell and Donohue's execution of acrobatic lifts, dynamic movements and rapid spins kept the audience engaged in each performance.

Article Photos

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue perform in the Saturday Night Ice Show on Aug. 5 at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.
Photo by Christie Sausa 

The team had a strong season last year, earning their fourth bronze medal at nationals and finishing third in the Short Dance segment at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Training in Montreal, Quebec with two-time World silver medalists Marie France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, they feel positive about the past season and the upcoming Olympic year.

"We felt like last season went well; we had a good momentum that built from the beginning to the end," Hubbell said. "I definitely think that we kind of showed the world with some of our performances that we belong at the top, and that's the momentum we kept through this off season.

"We're lucky to train with the two people we're trying to catch the most (French team Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron and Canadian team Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir), so we have that constant eye into what our competition is doing and that motivation of seeing them train hard. They were one and two this past year at worlds, and they are the favorites to medal in the next Games, so we really want to be in that top three with them."

Hubbell and Donohue both agree that the highlight of their season, and overall career, was their performance in the Short Dance at the World Championships.

"It was the first time being in the top three of the world championships, and just to have the feeling that even with a program that wasn't the most loved by everyone we proved with our skating that we belonged there" Hubbell said.

The skill to captivate the audience and judges is one of the team's talents, and the bold choices they make in their skating continue to attract attention and, in some cases, cause controversy. Despite their Short Dance program being within the parameters of the 2016-2017 Short Dance themes of "Blues and either or both Swing, Hip Hop," the program might have caused a stir, even with their excellent execution and style with which it was carried out.

"It was just 100 percent different from everyone else," Donohue said. "(There were) a lot more changes of music, the feel was very party. It was a dance through the ages from Nina Simone all the way up to 'Turn down for what?'

"It wasn't very figure skatery, since it included several famous pieces of music and a lot of well-known dance moves."

Even though the program deviated from the normal expectations that characterize an ice dance performance, it earned Hubbell and Donohue third place after the short program with a score of 76.53. Many skating fans observing that their performance perhaps warranted a placement above Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

After the Free Dance in which they placed 10th, Hubbell and Donohue finished in ninth place overall with a score of 177.70, and with renewed motivation to improve upon their placements for this season.

"I think that was the highlight of our career," Donohue said. "We competed well all season, and as (Madison) said, I think that was the point that we really proved to everyone that we are up there fighting. This year we are not fighting for the third spot, we are fighting for the top spot."

This season, Hubbell and Donohue are skating to a Latin medley of Samba and Rhumba rhythms for their short dance. Their free dance is accompanied by an instrumental version of "Across the Sky" by Rag'n'Bone Man and "Caught Out in the Rain" by Beth Hart.

Their first competition of the season will be the US International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City, Utah September 13-16, an extremely early competition to kick off the new season leading into the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"We are going to be one of the first US teams to compete this summer," Hubbell said. "It is an exciting event to kick off the season since we have gone several times now; we are very comfortable there. The altitude is always fun, but this is a tiny little warm up (for the upcoming season)."

And although not competing in Skate America this November in Lake Placid, they plan to purchase tickets and watch the events.

"It would be great to come back to Lake Placid for Skate America and support our team," Hubbell said. "It's always nice to see skating in person."

Figure skating action continues in Lake Placid on Aug. 12 with the next Saturday Night Ice Show, featuring international competitor Doug Razzano. For more information on all Lake Placid figure skating events and programs, visit their website at



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