Home Figure Skating News Chock and Bates take fifth national title

Chock and Bates take fifth national title

by Ted Flett
Roger Wimmer

Chock and Bates take fifth national title

(L-R) Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko, Madison Chock/Evan Bates, Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville, and Carolina Green/Michael Parsons pose with their medals at the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Ice Dance

Madison Chock and Evan Bates secured their fifth U.S. National title in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko won the silver medal and podium newcomers Emily Bratti and Ian Somerville took bronze. The ice dance event featured mistakes and ranking updates uncharacteristic of the discipline which made it interesting for spectators.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates

The 2023 World champions began their campaign for a third back-to-back title by setting a U.S. record in the event with their rhythm dance. Skating to “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Who Wants to Live Forever” and “I Want It All,” the veterans handily lead the charge to first place, earning a score of 92.17, a U.S. record. Highlights of the performance rivalling Chock’s lemon-yellow dress included level-four twizzles and a dramatic level four rotational lift to close the program.

“The U.S. Championships is always such a special event and has such a unique energy no matter what year it is,” Madison said afterwards. “It really feels incredibly special to be able to perform for a home crowd and to feel the electricity in the rink that the audience brings. And we really enjoyed every moment out there on the ice today and we’re so happy to perform this for this rhythm dance for the crowd.”

“We are no strangers to this event,” she expanded, speaking to the team’s present confidence as World and Grand Prix Final champions. “I think we just have so many years of experience to lean on and the more that we continue to grow and push ourselves in this sport, the more we realize how special it is. And what a unique opportunity it is to be part of this community and to be able to go out there and perform and do something that we’re so passionate about every single day.”

On the day of the free dance, it was revealed that the Olympians had been struggling with flu-like symptoms in Columbus so severe that the decision to compete was only made after the six-minute warm up. The team opened their innovative Pink Floyd free dance with an eye-catching level four stationary lift, but then Bates struggled on the twizzles. Other trips and collisions throughout the skate to “Time,” “Breathe” and “Eclipse” lead to a score of earned a score of 123.75 in the free dance and a total competition score of 215.92.

The crowed was particularly thrilled by their level-four straight line lift in which Bates, in a spread-eagle position, holds Chock in a standing position with her arms held aloft before lowering in an impressive cartwheel exit.

Chock explained the rationale for competing and her feelings post skate.

“I think Evan and I have always had a lot of determination and willpower and we thought, ‘Will we regret not going forward and just trying our best today?’ and when the answer to that was yes, we were like, ‘Okay, let’s make it happen, let’s step out there and just give it all we’ve got.’ And we did that today. And I’m really proud of Evan for pushing through because I know you’re especially not feeling well today. And so, I’m just really proud that you did it and yeah, it’s one more thing. If we can do this, then we can do anything.”

Chock said Bates started feeling unwell on Thursday and she felt the worst on Friday morning.

Among the motivations to persevere was the possibility that this season may be the duo’s last.

“When we were contemplating whether or not we could skate or we should skate, it went through my mind,” Chock said. ‘Well, what if this is our…this is it? What if at the end of the year we feel complete and that’s it and we didn’t get to skate the whole U.S. championships? Would we feel like we missed that, or would we regret that decision? And, I think that would have been a ‘Yes,’ like if this is our last U.S. championships and we want to go out knowing that we skated and we did our best and we fought for it.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko were elated with their rhythm dance performance in which they earned 83.19 points for their Stevie Nicks routine. Level-four twizzles highlighted the skate set to “Whole Lotta Trouble” and “Edge of Seventeen.”

“We’re really happy with how it went,” Carreira said. “We’ve been working really hard, and I feel like that showed; what we’ve been working on. Last year, we didn’t quite have the skates we wanted at nationals. So, this year we really wanted to have a different approach. To just finish the day happy with our skating today, regardless of the scores.”

“We are really happy with the skates,” Ponomarenko added. “But there’s still work to be done. We are going to come in focused for the free dance and hopefully deliver the same performance we did today.”

The focus paid off as the 2023 U.S. bronze medalists performed their haunting free dance with ease set to “The Girl with the Plum” and “Meeting Laura” from Perfume – The Story of a Murderer and “Strictly Taboo” and “Deceit and Betrayal” by Audiomachine. The winning performance, which scored 126.85 points, was highlighted by an exhilarating final trio of elements: a level-four rotational lift, choreographic assisted jump and choreographic sliding movement as the music built to its conclusion. In total five elements were graded level four, including the twizzles, to help achieve a total competition score of 210.04.

“This crowd was amazing!” said Carreira. “So supportive! I think this one that’s probably one of the best crowds we have skated in front of. It was very exciting.”

“It didn’t change the job we had to deal with,” she said of the news that Chock and Bates were unwell and would possibly withdraw from the event. “We knew what we had to do when we went out on the ice and I’m really happy to stay focused. And we were able to accomplish that, and we’ve been working a lot on both programs to make changes to really maximize our score and our performance.”

“We had a lot of time after the Grand Prix is to focus in on change,” Ponomarenko added. “We pushed to our limits and we tried to perform every day like competition.”

Emily Bratti and Ian Somerville

In their third season together, Bratti and Somerville made a splash in Columbus, scoring as much as 79.14. They finished fourth in the rhythm dance with their “Prince” routine, overtaking impressive teams and surprising spectators. They received level-four grading on their twizzles and rotational lift.

“I feel like we just kind of did what we do in practice and didn’t try to overdo anything,” said Bratti. “We just skated how we always do, and it felt really good.”

“We were confident that we knew what was going to happen,” Somerville added. “At least for the performance, not with results. That was a really surprisingly good score; a placement that we’re really excited about.”

The team was in shock at their free dance result, finishing third and clenching the bronze medal. The routine to “Ne Me Quitte Pas” and “Composition” earned 118.80 points and propelled them to a competition score of 196.94.

The team felt the pressure of the night with earlier lackluster performances and low scores from other teams.

“We are extremely exhausted from it all,” said Bratti. “From all the effort we put into that performance and how emotional it was.”

Sommerville noted the scores of teams before them and saw the chance to capitalize with a decent skate.

“It was an interesting situation,” he explained. “I mean, you got to hear the scores that come up before you. There was like, opportunities to, like, I don’t know, to place really well. It gave me an extra sense of like, ‘Okay, if we really just focus and do what we do every day, we really have a shot.'”

And they took it. Bratti and Somerville had the second-best elements score of the night, achieving level-four on the spin, curve lifts and stationary lift.

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons

Sliding to third after the rhythm dance, Caroline Green and Michael Parsons did not start off the competition in the placement they wanted. However, the team said they were pleased with their fighting form. They scored 80.91 with their Scorpions routine thanks, in part, to level-four twizzles and a level-four straight line lift.

“This is the most prepared we’ve been for any competition this season,” Parsons said. “I think that not only showed but we felt it in the warmups, in the practices and in the program. We felt very grounded, and we felt like really enjoyed the program today.”

“It’s always nice to be at an event that we can have so many of our family and friends with us,” Green added. “And just, that atmosphere at the nationals is really incomparable to any of our other events, even Skate America. So, to have the feeling like they’re out on the ice with us and sending us support and love. It’s really a great feeling. It’s like a culmination of our season so far and all the ups and downs. We’re really happy with how it went.”

“We’ve had a lot of time to be very detail oriented and how we approach this program,” Parsons added about the rhythm dance which was brand new for the grand prix series. “We’ve really thought about what we want to say in each part with the music. We’ve gotten much closer together, much more in sync, and it feels like a much more finished product than it did when we debuted it. So, that, I think, plays into how confident we feel in it at this competition.”

In their soulful free dance set to “Denmark” and “Wind and Snow,” the 2022 Four Continents champions opened with an impressive level-four stationary lift. However, thereafter, errors crept in and impacted the sequences and dance spin. They recovered late in the program to execute two level-four lifts. They earned a free dance score of 112.92 for a total competition score of 193.83.

“That was a disappointing skate,” Parsons said. “To put it very bluntly, we know that we can do a lot better than that. And unfortunately, this just wasn’t our day. Now, it’s just about resetting and working as hard as we can for China. We’ll be able to put out a much better skate there. I think we’ll do a bit of a debrief afterwards and really think about it. But it just felt like an off day. Things just weren’t working like we’re used to.”

“To be better,” Green bluntly said of her goals next week at Four Continents Championships.

Coach Charlie White was measured in his assessment of his team’s surprising performance and finish at Nationwide Arena.

“I think they had a hard time just kind of getting their feet under them as the program went,” White observed. “And I think at the end, you just kind of saw that exhaustion. It takes a lot to hold a program together when there’s a lot of little things going wrong. And sometimes it’s just not your day. Unfortunately, just a confluence of little mistakes sort of added up as the program went along. They have an opportunity next week in China. They get to go out there and do it again. To have a better feeling at the end of the program.”

“All you want to do is go and do it again,” co-coach Tanith Belbin said of the team’s desire for a do-over. “And now they get to do that. So, we’re just keeping their focus forward so that they can look towards what they can accomplish in a week.”

Green and Parsons are scheduled to compete at the Four Continents Championships next week.

Eva Pate and Logan Bye

Following their upbeat rhythm dance, Eva Pate and Logan Bye say they were satisfied with the performance, even if they were wanting for a higher score and placement. They earned 72.81 points.

“I feel like our energy was there, our expression was there,” Pate said. “Everything was in the right place. Our technical mark was a little bit lower than normal. So, we’ll be obviously working on that for tomorrow even like just focusing a little bit more on the turns. But overall, it felt like a great skate, and it felt like really good energy and crowd was great. I felt really good.”

The team, coached by Igor Shpilband, said they were pleased with their free dance performance. However, they were concerned about the scores. They finished fifth in the free dance with a score of 110.94 and fifth overall with 184.75.

Pate admitted to having memories of her tumble in the free dance in 2023. They were in the back of her mind, and she was relieved that there was no such error today. She added that they know what to work on heading into next season.

“Our technical mark was a lot better than Thursday, which was nice,” she said. “So, I’m glad about that. We obviously need to work on our skating skills, components and all that stuff. We just need to get stronger stronger because I feel like our technical ability is there. It’s just the little in between things that could get better and help us more in the future.”

Emilea Zingas and Vadym Kolesnik slipped one spot to sixth overall (181.70). Isabella Flores and Ivan Desyatov placed seventh (179.67) followed closely by Oona Brown and Gage Brown (179.43).

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