Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) edged teammates Madison Chock/Evan Bates by just 0.19 points as the ISU Four Continents Championships opened Thursday in Seoul (KOR) with the Rhythm Dance. Canada’s Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier are not far behind in third place.
Skating to “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”, Hubbell/Donohue picked up a level four for the twizzles, the straight line lift and the Finnstep pattern dance sequence, while the pattern dance-type step sequence and the midline step sequence were rated level three. The 2019 World bronze medalists achieved a season’s best with 85.95 points.
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“It’s been a quick turnaround between Nationals and Four Continents,” Hubbell said. “We really wanted to focus on being precise and confident and we feel like we did that today. So our main focus was the mental aspect, staying focused and really putting out a performance that would be competitive here in this field and we accomplished that goal today.”
Donohue commented on how close the competition is: “Honestly, when it comes down to these top few spots, especially when they get close and you get all these amazing skaters, it’s not about the competition anymore, it’s about how in-focus you can be and where you put your energy because we’re not going to go faster than them and win by a second. It’s about our performance and what we put on the ice.”
Chock/Bates’ performance to “Too Darn Hot” was highlighted by a straight line lift, a precise pattern dance and fast twizzles. The defending Four Continents Champions earned the same levels as Hubbell/Donohue to set a season’s best of 85.76 points.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“Our performance felt great, felt really good actually,” Chock said. “I feel like this is the best we’ve performed our Short Dance so far this season and that’s what we’ve been working towards – keep building our performance, speed and fun program.”
Bates added: “Our preparation coming into this after US Nationals was challenging to recover from. So we had just a week-and-a-half of rest and a few days of training and then got on the flight to Korea.”.
Gilles/Poirier completed level-four twizzles and a level-four rotational lift in their upbeat program to “Mack and Mabel”. However, the Finnstep pattern merited only a level two.
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (CAN) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Nevertheless, the Canadian Champions managed a personal best score with 83.92 points.
“Piper and I are really happy to have gotten a season’s best at the competition today,” Poirier said. “This is our first Short Dance small medal in a very long time so I think that is a very big accomplishment for us. We’re just very pleased that this program has been constantly improving over the course of the season.”
Shiyue Wang/Xinyu Liu (CHN) came fourth with an entertaining Charlie Chaplin program (77.45 points) followed by 2019 World Junior Champions Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (CAN) on 76.43 points. 2018 Four Continents silver medalists Carolane Soucisse/Shane Firus (CAN) finished sixth with 73.32 points.