Home Figure Skating News Chock and Bates win third Skate America title

Chock and Bates win third Skate America title

by Paula Slater
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2022 Skate America Ice Dance

Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States perform their Free Dance at 2022 Skate America on October 23, 2022 in Norwood, Massachusetts.

2022 Skate America – Ice Dance Recap

USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their third Skate America Ice Dance title with only 0.73 points to spare in Norwood, Mass., on Sunday afternoon. Teammates Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker won their second silver medal at this event, while Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac of Canada won the bronze in their Grand Prix debut together as a team.

Overnight leaders Chock and Bates wove another story with their new free dance to “Film III,” “Les Tectoniques,” and “Fem III” by experimental-rock cellist and singer Jorane. Their routine featured solid level-four twizzles, dance spin, and two lifts, however the three-time World medalists left points on the table as their choreographic slide didn’t receive any value and their he only received a level one on the one-foot steps. They finished second in the Free Dance (120.17), and with 82.63 from the Rhythm Dance, they scored 202.80 overall to maintain first place.

While they weren’t certain why they didn’t receive credit for the choreographic slide at the press conference, Chock felt it may have been because the were not close enough to the boards.

“This rink is bigger than our rink at home,” joked Bates. “It won’t happen again,” Chock said to the chuckles. “We’ll fix it!”

“Overall we are pleased with how our first competition of the season went,” said Chock. “To perform the Free Dance was a joy. We have a few technical details that need some work – like a missing element , but we’ll put that back in and we’ll be on our way. Over all, it was wonderful and the crowd was amazing! We were happy to debut our new program here in Boston.”

“Obviously, this weekend we didn’t skate as well as we have been skating at home,” said Bates. “I think that that bit is where we can show our resiliency again starting at this point in the season, but it’s only the beginning. There are more competitions to come and I think we still will really cherish this gold medal knowing that those seven years (they’ve been together) were a lot and we went through a lot. We still came through seven years later with just as much joy, if not more, and dedication to the sport.”

“And a wedding ring!” he summed up, while holding up Chock’s left hand.

The team was asked how they felt about about their silver medals (or lack of thereof) from the 2022 Olympic team event given that the RUSADA had just released a statement that the findings of the doping incident involving Kamila Valieva would be kept confidential. Chock and Bates were also asked if they had an opinion on whether they felt the Russians should compete in the next Olympics.

“I certainly can say it’s been so very frustrating and extremely disappointing to be at this point eight months later and to have it be so shrouded in secrecy,” said Bates in measured tones. “I feel like as a baseline, we should hope for transparency, not only for the public, but especially for the athletes involved. It seems only right. When we left Beijing with no medal, it was hugely disappointing, but it seems to be growing more exponentially as the days and months go by and there’s no resolution. The most recent release from RUSADA about not making anything public compounds the frustration quite a bit. We’re just waiting like the rest of the world to hear…the nineteen athletes (that were affected) all competed clean, and I think have been pretty respectfully quiet through these months and it’s an injustice.”

Hawayek and Baker delivered an expressive and airy Free Dance to “Requiem” and “Sofia” by Askjell which was highlighted by very good level-four one-foot steps and twizzles. The three lifts were also graded a level four, as was the dance spin. The 2018 Four Continents champions scored a new personal best of 122.95 for first place in the Free Dance, and with a total score of 202.07, finished second overall.

“Today felt very aligned between Jean-Luc and I,” said Hawayek. “We felt very grounded going into the event and we really performed, because this season we’re stepping into a new place where we’re owning what we’re doing and believing that what we’re doing is good enough to be the best in the world. We were really happy with the response today, not even score-wise, but the atmosphere and the feeling we created when we finished our program.”

“It was a joy to skate here in Norwood,” she added. “The crowd was phenomenal! It’s so nice to see a full crowd again and it’s things we realized over the past few years that we shouldn’t take for granted. So being able to be here with a full crowd and see everybody’s smiles and just feel everybody’s response to our program made the performance really special today.”

Baker added that going into this season, they are really just trying to be as “present as possible” when asked about the new personal bests they received in the both the free dance and total score.

“I think the confidence we are getting, we’re going into the events with the intention to win. Understandably, everyone wants to win, we’re not here to be in second or third place, but realistically at the end of the day, what we are trying to do is put ourselves out there. As real as I am and as real as Kaitlin is, and produce work that we’re both proud of. I think that at the end of the day, that is what we can really take away from this. Those memories of when you finish, you fully connected with not just each other, but with the audience and judges. Those are the things we can control. So I think going into this year, we are just really just trying to stay true to who we are, and I think the more we’re doing that, the more the rewards are showing up.”

Hawayek later related: “There is not really a story behind our Free Dance, but something we really want to express and remind ourselves of is that we are always enough as people,” said Kawayek. “As athletes, we of course want to grow and improve, but as people we are always enough!”

Lauriault and Le Gac, who earned a new personal best in the Rhythm Dance (72.12), produced a clever Free Dance to music from the The Pink Panther which featured level-four twizzles and a level three one-foot steps. The two-time national champions also earned a level four on their curve-rotational lift, but received a deduction for an extended lift. Nevertheless, they maintained third place overall with a new personal best total score of 178.30 points.

“We are very happy with our performance today,” said Le Gac. “It’s really special since our last Grand Prix was three years ago. Now we came here with another mindset to reach for a new goal and to get a medal. We are really happy by doing what we usually do in practice, what we reached our goal. We really felt the support of the crowd here and it was a special moment for us.”

Lauriault shared that this was the first time they came into a competition with the goal to medal and that it was a “life-changing experience.”

“It was something we believe couldn’t happen before,” she explained. “Now we believe it and it happened, so I think it just opened a lot of doors for us. It’s important to believe and that’s what we learned here and that’s what we are going to take from the competition.”

Loicia Demougeot and Theo Le Mercier of France placed fourth (170.89) ahead of Australia’s Holly Harris and Jason Chan (170.20) and Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi (169.68).

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