2023 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships
Continuing their steady climb of point-earning performances this season, Madison Chock and Evan Bates secured their fourth U.S. National Championship and first back-to-back titles, in San Jose on Saturday. Caroline Green and Michael Parsons won the silver medal and Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko squeaked out the bronze. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker did not compete in San Jose due to injury.
Chock and Bates commenced their modern and stylistic free dance in which Chock evoked fire and Evan represented air with choreographic assisted jumps that floated. Element by element, the duo mesmerized the judges, winning a perfect 10 for presentation. Highlights of the routine, which has evolved over the season, included a dramatic level-four straight line lift on a diagonal pattern across the ice partway through the performance. The two-time World bronze medalists also received a level four for their diagonal step sequence, twizzles, dance lift, and curve lifts. The veterans earned 137.85 in the free dance for a total score of 229.75, both of which were records in national ice dance.
“It’s always an incredible honor to be able to perform the U.S. championships, and this year was no different,” Chock said. “Evan and I have made some of the fondest memories of our career at this event, and this one is definitely atop that list as well. And, we had a wonderful time performing to the audience today. We’re so grateful.”
The team remains laser-focused on winning their first world championship after the spectacular finish in San Jose.
“I believe that we are right on track and exactly where we need to be to accomplish our goals,” Chock said. “We have a good amount of time before the World Championships to go back home and get a lot more great work under our belts.”
Specifically, the Olympians are pleased with the state of their free dance which has changed over the season.
“From the beginning of the season up until now, we’ve really been working to evolve our program,” Chock said. “And with that came the development of the story. We’re very happy with the way that the program has developed since the beginning of the season, and it has found its groove. Like Evan said earlier, we’ve let the program speak to us and we’ve evolved with it.”
Chock and Bates started the week in convincing fashion, scoring a hefty 91.90, just .04 points off their national personal best in 2022, with their David Bowie rhythm dance packed with three level four elements.
Green and Parsons charmed the audience with their “Rhapsody in Blue” free dance which earned 126.06 points. The judges awarded level fours to all three lifts, twizzles and dance spin. The 2022 Four Continents Champions, who were ecstatic with their week, earned a total of 207.46 points.
“I think every national championship is very significant to set the routine,” Parsons said. “This one was especially significant to us just for how we’ve been approaching the season and how we’ve wanted to redirect ourselves. And I don’t think we could have put a better skate out today. I’m so happy with the work that we’ve put in the past few months with our new coaches. I couldn’t be more honored and couldn’t be happier to be here.”
Carreira and Ponomarenko rebounded from a surprising result in the rhythm dance in which they placed fourth. The 2022 Four Continents bronze medalists moved up a spot overall with their sultry free dance to music from the Backbone soundtrack, choreographed by Madison Hubbell. The powerful team opened their Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald “Summertime” routine with an impressive curve lift across center ice in which Carreira was in a handstand position. The team, coached by Scott Moir in London, Ont., received a level four on their curve lift, rotational lift, and twizzles from the judges.
“We’re really happy with the results,” Carreira said. “We’re mostly happy with how we skated today. That’s closer to what we’ve been doing at home and practice. And it’s a big step up from what we did [in the rhythm dance]. So, we’re happy we could do a solid program.”
“Still lots of room for improvement, but to go out there and skate and to end in the position that we are in now, it’s an honor,” Ponomarenko added. “We’ve put in a lot of work, a lot of time and trust in the process.”
Emilea Zingas and Vadym Kolesnik, the competition’s surprise pewter medalists (and near-bronze medalists), made a splash in San Jose that is uncharacteristic in ice dance. With a compelling free skate to music by Philip Glass, the newly-formed team managed four level-four elements, including the twizzle sequence. They earned 119.95 in the free dance to finish with 198.13 points in total.
“This week has been really surreal for me to be honest,” Zingas said. “I feel extremely honored to be here and to sit next to those people that we sat next to in the press conference yesterday. I was just floored by the whole experience and it’s just been a lot of learning. But overall, I’m just really grateful to be here.”
“She’s pretty talented,” Kolesnik added. “I work hard. So, I think we’ve got a match. Our coaches did a great job. They really pushed our programs to the maximum.”