Lausanne, Switzerland
Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) FCFSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1128790597
Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

When U.S. ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates had to withdraw from their Grand Prix events last fall as Madison was recovering slowly from ankle surgery, they were just happy to be able to return to competition in January this year. They certainly did not expect to dance off with the gold medal at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2019 in Anaheim in February. However, they did expect to turn in strong performances. “I feel really well prepared for the competitions and I really feel like, after the first performance in Poland [at the Mentor Torun Cup], we really quickly settled into feeling that familiar feeling of being competitive,” Evan shared. Madison, his partner on and off the ice, agreed: “I am just so happy, not just because we won – obviously I feel very happy about that, but I just feel so happy and confident in where we are in our careers and just completely refreshed and reinvigorated.”

The flawless performances of their Flamenco and Tango Rhythm Dance set to “Dinner” and “Assassin’s Tango” by John Powell and the Free Dance to an Elvis Presley Medley resulted in the gold medal, the first title for this accomplished team that has a World silver medal from 2015 and a World bronze medal from 2016 on their record. “We have won many medals, but none of them were gold,” Bates noted.

 
 
 
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Ready. Set. Tango. 💃🏻 #4CC2019

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“I think these programs are two great vehicles to show off our new skating style and show off our personalities: they really showcase us in a very good light and that’s what we want to show people. We want to show people who we are and why we are skating: we are skating because skating makes us happy and we want to share that with everyone,” Madison said.

Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) FCFSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1128784579

Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

The skaters picked the music together with their new coaches. “We wanted to do Fever but Marie[-France Dubreuil] was the one who brought the Elvis [Presley] version. That was her favorite piece and, from there, she had the idea to make it a cohesive Elvis program with the second piece of music [Burning Love]. We chose the second piece of music with the intention of just selling it to the crowd and just getting people to clap along and feel like they are part of the party and part of the joy that we are experiencing on the ice. We kind of wanted to draw people into that,” Evan explained.

Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) GPFSF 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 889331988

Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

“We wanted it to feel like a show program because everyone has so much fun doing show programs and watching show programs. So we wanted to bring that out and we’ve done serious programs before and we just thought that this would be something refreshing for the entire event because you do see a lot of dramatic [programs],” Madison continued.

A lot has changed for Chock and Bates since they finished ninth at the Olympic Winter Games a year ago. Not only did Madison have to take a long time off to heal her ankle after the surgery, but the couple also decided to change coaches. Since teaming up in 2011, the dancers had been coached by Igor Shpilband, but last summer they moved to Canada to join the Montreal Ice Dance School of coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer. They decided to make the move in April, right after Madison underwent surgery on her right ankle. “We knew that we wanted to continue skating after having a really disappointing Olympic Games and feeling like our skating was plateauing a bit and we weren’t getting the results that we wanted,” Bates, who celebrated his 30th birthday on February 23, said. “We felt like we were so close for many seasons of getting back to where we were in 2015/16. We just couldn’t get over the, kind of, hump. So we felt like we needed this change in order to grow – you need to step outside of your comfort zone in order to really push yourself. And for us, I think, what we really wanted was to train every day with the best teams in the World – our top competitors – the teams who were beating us at Olympics and Worlds. We knew that that would be what would spur our development to get back to what we felt like it was in years past. We knew that something great was going on in Montreal, obviously with the results in PyeongChang, and we had been a part of something like that in Canton, you know, five or six years ago – they had a lot of top teams,” he added. At the time, Shpilband and Marina Zueva were coaching together Canadians Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir , Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA), Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) and other strong teams.

“It’s just like that kind of training environment is magic. There is something about it that is really special and we wanted to be a part of it and, now that we are, we can say that it has changed our skating so much. The coaches, obviously as well, but also our training mates and the environment are huge in motivating us and making us more trust ourselves,” Bates went on.

Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) with their coaches Romain Haguenauer and Marie France Dubreuil FCFSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1128794439

Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA) with their coaches Romain Haguenauer and Marie-France Dubreuilat at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

“We felt instantly welcomed once we arrived in Montreal,” Madison recalled. “Everyone was so great and so happy to have us. We genuinely love all the people that train there. So, just being around all our friends every day, is such a fun way to work and train that it doesn’t feel like work when you are having so much fun. Obviously, sometimes, it still feels like work but it’s good work and, especially, when your just trucking along at the end of that run through on Friday and all your friends are like: ‘Yeah! Go!’”

 
 
 
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Sunny Sunday Funday ☀️

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Chock and Bates enjoy living in Montreal and are looking forward to the spring and summer to explore more of the city that will host the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2020. “It’s such a big change for us. It’s the first time that we’ve left home really, you know, moved away from our parents. It’s the first time that we’ve lived in the city. Which is also really nice to be inspired outside of the rink when you’re part of a city and you feel like there are people your age and there’s like electricity, almost, to the vibe of the city and our neighborhood. Life is really good right now for us and I think it’s helping us on the ice just the fact that we are happy off ice,” Evan shared.

Interesting enough, Madison and he became romantically involved only after having skated together for several years. “It’s even better than before. We are so much closer and we know how to help each other in every situation and we can bring each other up and grow, not only ourselves but we can grow together on and off the ice,” Chock noted. “I think that is what our partnership on the ice is based on – built upon our relationship – even before it was romantic,” Bates agreed. “When we first got together in 2011, we were not physically a great match. I think, especially then, you didn’t see so many teams with a big height difference and we were asked a lot of questions at first. I think that the reason why we chose each other was because we liked each other. We really had a great chemistry. We just had a blast on the ice together during our tryout. I feel like that is sort of the foundation of our partnership now, even more so, that we are a couple. I think that the relationship is just the strongest part of our partnership,” he continued.

 
 
 
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My recovery from ankle surgery 9 months ago has honestly been longer and more challenging than I ever imagined it would be. What was supposed to be a 6-8 week recovery turned out to be more like 6-8 months. It was not the doctor’s fault. Just my optimistic expectations overshadowing reality. I wouldn’t change anything because this journey has led us to where we are now, in Montreal loving life and training alongside the best teams in the world. I want to give a special shoutout to the person who has been by my side every step of the way. Thanks for always having my back @evan_bates 🥰😘 Off we go to our first competition of the season! #ChockBates #comeback ❤️ . 📸: @oniceperspectives

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Evan was at the side of his partner when she had to undergo the surgery to remove chipped off bone fragments in her ankle. The injury occurred in August 2017 and throughout the Olympic season Madison struggled with pain. The recovery after the surgery took longer than she thought and it was only in December that she was able to return to full-time training without taking any days off.

Now the couple is back on track. Following their first place at the small competition in Poland, they took silver at the U.S. National Championships behind Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue and now gold at the Four Continents Championships. The next stop are the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, next month and Chock/Bates want to prove again that they are back in the game.

Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) FCFSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 889331914

Madison Chock Evan Bates (USA) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)