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Fourth of July spirit on ice

July 12, 2019
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Appropriate to the Fourth of July holiday celebrated days earlier, the first Lake Placid Saturday Night Ice Show guest skaters of the 2019 season, Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, displayed an indomitable spirit that has made them American heroes.

Skating to a medley from 2013's The Great Gatsby and "A Storm is Comin" by Tommee Profitt, the team dazzled the audience Saturday, July 6 with exciting lifts, jumps and spins.

"Last season at this time we were saying, 'We are going to be national champions. We are going to get the spots back at worlds. We are going to win the World Team trophy and medal in the Grand Prix.' Very ambitious, but we can do it," LeDuc said.

Article Photos

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc show off their medals following the 2019 GEICO U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Provided photo — Jay Adeff, US Figure Skating

And they did just that.

The pair overcame a potentially career-ending injury to win the 2019 U.S. National Championships. The injury occurred in a previous event, the Golden Spin of Zagreb, where Cain-Gribble fell on her head while in the process of exiting a lift, and was subsequently diagnosed with a concussion. Amazingly, five weeks later, they won the national title.

Both feel that despite the adverse situation, it helped them grow as athletes and people, actually benefitting them in the end.

"This was a real-life example of (US Figure Skating's) Get Up campaign, showing the journeys that each of us have had and what athletes do in order to find success," LeDuc said. "We had to literally get up from that and find a way to get back. It took a lot of soul searching, coming together as a team and staying very focused on our task following the protocol.

"All of our coaches and everyone at US Figure Skating did a great job helping us recover and stay confident and also helped us let go of guilt or anything residual from the accident. And we came out and won nationals five weeks after a terrible and possibly career-ending injury."

Cain-Gribble echoed these sentiments, stating that the ability to stay focused helped them triumph at Nationals.

"I think before we started the season our goal was to win Nationals," she said. "We finally felt ready to take on that responsibility as athletes and as people. When we had the fall in Croatia yes, it was tough to go through, but we never lost sight of what our goal was before we started the season and I think that it helped us stay on task going into Nationals."

The title wasn't just a gold medal for them, but a reminder of all they had accomplished with the help of friends and family.

"The title meant so much more to us, it wasn't about winning and all the accolades about getting first, but it was about what we had done and accomplished and that we never put blame on each other and stuck together," Cain-Gribble said.

"We also want to thank our family and friends," LeDuc added. "They helped build us up. They were amazing through the process and encouraged us to be the champions we knew we always could be."

The win was significant for another reason: Timothy LeDuc is the first openly gay skater to win the U.S. National pairs title, making him a celebrated icon, especially in the LGBTQ community.

"It is really important for me to be an open and visibly queer athlete because there are so few of us," LeDuc said. "It is really easy for queer people to internalize all the negative messages that will put us down and that is something that I personally really struggled with and continue to struggle with that queer people are second class citizens and that we are less deserving of rights and protections."

He was one of several celebrities celebrating LGBTQ Pride month in June and serving as a role model for other LGBTQ people. He is grateful to be skating with Cain, who he said pushes him to be his best every day.

"With my platform, I try to be that beacon for those who do not have that person to tell them that they are worth it," LedDuc said in an June 19 Team USA article. "In addition it is important to highlight my accomplishments as a queer person that you can still be yourself and snatch trophies."

After their Nationals win, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc finished fourth in the 2019 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, followed by the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan. Their ninth-place finish secured the second spot for the US in the 2020 World Figure Skating Championships, which has not happened since 2017.

They finished the season on an even higher note, helping Team USA win gold in the 2019 ISU World Team Trophy in Fukuoka, Japan. Earlier in the season, they had won a bronze medal in the 2018 Skate America Grand Prix event in Everett, Washington.

After all these accomplishments, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc are holding themselves to an even higher standard and have set definite goals: to defend their National title, be named to the World team again, and become one of the top five pairs teams in the world.

They also plan to medal in both of their Grand Prix events, qualify for the Grand Prix Final, and medal at both of their Senior B events.

"We want to push ourselves as artists this season and really stick to the storylines that we set out for our performances and stick to those every single time," Cain-Gribble said.

While these goals might sound overly ambitious, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc believe that is the only way to achieve.

"We understand that these are very ambitious goals that we have set but we are ready and we don't think it would be true to either of us if we didn't set the bar very high," LeDuc said.

Added Cain-Gribble, "I think it's good to set ambitious goals because it makes you work harder and keeps you motivated to get there you have to speak those things into existence, that is our rationale."

Cain-Gribble married Dalton Gribble on June 1, 2019 in Ponder, Texas.

"It's been a really cool off season just because we spent so much time on something other than skating. Tim was a bridesmaid and was a part of every step as well. We got everything skating done so that by the time the wedding came around it was fine and I could enjoy every moment which is exactly what happened," Cain-Gribble said. "I was so lucky to have family, friends and vendors around me that helped so much and my husband who was so patient with everything."

After the wedding, she and her new husband enjoyed their honeymoon in the Turks and Caicos Islands, making it the first vacation they had had "in years."

The team radiates strength and gratitude, and they remain positive and focused on improving.

"It was crazy what we went through, and obviously we're reminded of it when people see us," Cain-Gribble said. "We just moved forward and did everything possible to get better, and we didn't dwell on it or wish that anything different had happened, we just keep moving forward and I think that has been our whole career, we just look for ways to improve and progress and get even further in the sport."

The next Saturday Night Ice Show on July 14 will feature 2011 US National Champion Ryan Bradley. For more information on Lake Placid figure skating programs, visit their website at



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