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Chock and Bates dance to lead in Greensboro

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2020 U.S. Nationals

Rhythm Dance

2019 U.S. National silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates took the lead after the Rhythm Dance in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Defending champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are close behind, followed by Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker who took bronze last year.

Chock and Bates showed great energy in their jazzy routine to “Too Darn Hot,” showing very good level 4 twizzles, pattern and diagonal steps. The only mistake came when Chock had a tiny slip on a twizzle during the Finnsteps which were graded a level 3, and they scored 87.63 points.

“I just tipped over and thought, ‘at least this is an outside edge, it could be worse,’ and we recovered really well, but it was unexpected,” said Chock of the mistake. “This is something we have been working really hard to get back to. We have had a long career together with many highs and many lows. We are happy to back on a high, and we want to keep pushing ourselves to that trajectory.”

“We are such different people than what we were five years ago,” added Bates. “The experiences that this sport have brought us have really impacted our lives. Moving to Montreal has been very, very life changing. It shows on the ice. But we feel it also off the ice rink. In many ways, that is more valuable, because the skating career is going to be over at some point, but the life skills and the relationships we are building are going to be forever. That joy we have for life is what is coming through in our skating, and I think it’s leading to good results.”

“It’s so great to be able to train with Madison and Zach and Kaitlin and Jean-Luc,” said Chock. “It’s brought all of us up to the next level of skating. We will progress for the rest of our careers because we respect each other so much and we look to each other during training and for motivation and inspiration, and we find that in each of us.”

Hubbell and Donohue gave a strong skate, but were not perfect in their “Marilyn Monroe” routine. There was a slight loss of balance from Donohue in the Finnsteps and Hubbell earned a level 3 in the pattern steps. Nevertheless, they produced very strong twizzles and midline steps, but the straightline lift was also graded a level 3. They are in second with 86.31 points.

“There were some technical mistakes today, unfortunately, and an unexpected level on the lift, but we’re happy to get those kinks out here,” said Hubbell. “It’s been a really smooth season, so sometimes, it’s good to get kind of a wake up call before the end of the year.”

“It’s a competition and certainly today, we wanted to be first,” she added. “We wanted to skate our best, but luckily we have a team behind us and the people we train with that teach us to be better athletes and better people, and they should take ownership of what we do on the ice and what we control.”

“Kaitlin and Jean-Luc are hungry, they are chasing after us, that is the nature of sport,” Hubbell said. “It’s not the rivalry that we’re going after each other, it’s that we’re aiming for that one top spot. Zach and I were here in 2015. We’ve moved out of the country and changed so much, even as a team and our relationship. I was also here in 2011, and it was the last time skating with my brother.”

“We started off this season with the Grand Prix and the costume still under way,” explained Donohue of the costume. “We needed to decide which angle we wanted to go for, and really wanted to go with something fun. Apparently, I rock out as a baseball player.”

Hawayek and Baker gave a crowd-pleasing, yet difficult “Disco” performance to finish in third with 82.59 points. All elements except for her pattern steps and twizzles received a level 4 and all key points were met in the Finnsteps.

“Actually, even at 7 in the morning when it’s 10 degrees out in Montreal, there is something about the program and the music and the genre that…our mantra for the year with this program was to spark joy, and it definitely sparks joy,” said Hawayek. “For us, going into Nationals, we trained with the intent of working on our energy and our focus. That was big in our skating today. It’s an incredibly fun program to train and to perform, and to get that reaction today was the icing on the cake. We were thrilled to be able to bring that joy to other people, as well. We’re really grateful for the team we have in Montreal. We’re a lot more than just skaters.”

“Something we’re really focusing on for this program is not just the technique, but we want to have a lot of fun,” added Baker. “We want the audience to have just as much fun with us, have a three-minute break form their lives and enjoy just pure memories that they might have made with these songs and an opportunity to step away from their life for a minute and be there with us. It’s a lot of fun to have the reaction we got.”

“Now our focus is the second part of the season, Nationals, Four Continents and Worlds, so we really wanted to put out a strong performance at this event,” he continued. “We were upset we didn’t get to do the show in Poland (due to illness), but we have bigger fish to fry, and this was one of them. 2015 was our first year senior, and we’ve grown quite a bit since then. Just the experiences over the years have made us grow as people.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko put out a high-energy routine to “Too Darn Hot,” which featured level 4 twizzles and rotational lift. They are currently in fourth with 78.02 points.

“We do about 10 patterns a day to make sure we have all the right steps and connect them with the twizzles,” shared Ponomarenko.

“We love skating with the best in the United States, and we demand to be noticed,” added McNamara.

The new team of Caroline Green and Michael Parsons placed fifth (77.42), followed by Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter (75.79).

“One of our aims this season was to compete as much as possible, so mission accomplished,” said Parsons. “It’s a work in progress. We’ve learned to skate the same way under the same coaches (new partner), and I couldn’t be more proud of her. One of the advantages to your first season is you don’t have any expectations.”

“Coming into this competition is when we started to gel, and I feel like we have adapted well,” said Green.