Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) defended their ISU Four Continents Championships title as the event continued Friday in Seoul (KOR). Canada’s Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier moved up one spot to take the silver medal while overnight leaders Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) settled for the bronze.
Chock/Bates had drawn to skate last out of the 16 Ice Dance couples and entertained the crowd with their “Egyptian Snake Dance” to Oriental music. The US Champions produced a curve combination lift, a smooth one-foot step sequence as well as rotational lift.
Ice Dance gold medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
However, they had to overcome a scare when Chock slipped on a transition move but the couple recovered instantly. The two-time World medalists collected a level four for the lifts, spin, twizzles and one-foot step sequence as well as a level three for the circular footwork to score 127.42 points. They totaled 213.18 points to move up to first place.
“It feels so good, I’m so happy. This is a really special event for us. We love Four Continents,” Chock said. “I scared myself. Maybe I stepped on something. It was out of the blue. I was trying to catch myself,” she added, referring to her fall.
Bates said: “It was a testament on how well-trained we are because we picked up really quickly from this fall that took us by surprise.
“But the jolt kind of took some energy away from us. Just coming off our National championships we were just fighting out there to put together the best performance we could and we’re just so grateful that we were able to do enough.”
Ice Dance silver medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (CAN) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Dancing to “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, Gilles/Poirier produced level-four twizzles, lifts and combination spin. The Canadian Champions earned 126.26 points and accumulated 210.18 points to overtake Hubbell/Donohue and win the third Four Continents medal of their career.
“We’re both really proud of ourselves. Having Nationals only two weeks ago, coming here I think all the athletes are a bit tired,” Gilles said. “We didn’t try to overdo it and we didn’t hold back either. We are very happy with ourselves. We got some great levels today.”
Poirier added: “We’ve been very consistent this season and that’s really proving we’ve been approaching our training the right way, we’ve been approaching competing the right way. We’ve given ourselves the task of being on the podium at Worlds. We feel like we’re getting closer and closer.”
Hubbell/Donohue’s program “A Star Is Born” to music by Lady Gaga featured difficult lifts and steps that merited level fours and threes. But they lost some precious points when Donohue stepped out of a twizzle. With 122.77 points, the 2019 World bronze medalists ranked third in the Free Dance and slipped to third overall at 208.72 points.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA), who took Ice Dance bronze | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“Our performance was not the absolute best,” Hubbell said. “Our Free Dance has been a rocky one for us this season. We haven’t really felt like we’ve given our best this season but it’s getting closer and we feel like we’re improving.”
Donohue said: “We know what we have to work on. We spent a lot of time building up our strength, now it’s time to add the pedal to the metal and do the work.”
Shiyue Wang/Xinyu Liu (CHN) remained in fourth place with a dramatic dance to “Swan Lake” (196.75 points) followed by 2019 World Junior Champions Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (CAN) on 192.11 points. 2018 Four Continents Champions Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) pulled up from seventh to sixth at 188.49 points.