Figure skating-Ice dancers Chock and Bates take lead at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Written by on January 7, 2022

January 8, 2022

(Reuters) – The ice dancing pair of Madison Chock and Evan Bates put on a nearly flawless rhythm dance routine at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday to put them in position to win their third national championship.

Going last and performing to a medley of songs by Billie Eilish, they mesmerized the Nashville crowd with their clean skating and electrifying lifts to earn the only standing ovation of the day and a 91.94 from the judges.

They will look to claim the title and solidify their position on the U.S.’s three-team Beijing Olympic squad when they return for the free dance on Saturday.

“It is certainly not our first rodeo, but it’s our favourite rodeo,” Chock said.

“We love doing the U.S. Championships. The audience is incredible and we really felt their energy and support out there.”

Reigning national champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who previously announced that the 2021-22 season would be their last, opened the door to their rivals after delivering a shaky performance, which earned them a 89.39.

“Not my best,” said Hubbell.

“I’m a little bit confused really. We’ve been training so consistently, feeling really strong and prepared, and today every element took me by surprise… but seeing everyone cheering us on despite the mistakes, it was meaningful.”

The rising pair of Caroline Green and Michael Parsons were third with 80.85.

The championships are the last competition before next month’s Olympics. The United States will name its three ice dancing teams after the competition wraps up this weekend.

The Games would be Chock and Bates’ third together and Hubbell and Donohue’s second.

The teams will be back in action on Saturday for the free dance.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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