Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue celebrate during the Ice Dance Free Dance flower ceremony at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 14, 2022 in Beijing, China.
BEIJING – A journey they began together in Detroit, Michigan 11 years ago – one that survived a romantic break-up, Olympic disappointment, relocation to Montreal and countless ups-and-downs in between -- culminated in a bronze medal for Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Monday.
“You work your whole career for the dream of going to the Olympics, and it’s so much more than any other competition,” Donohue, 31, said. “It’s a lot more draining, and wondering, a lot more pressure building up during the year as you lead into it. It’s a moment of appreciation, a moment of taking it in, and for us, being able to close the chapter and fold everything in.”
The three-time U.S. champions (2018-19, 2021) landed on the podium after one of the finest free dances of their career, a sensitive performance to Anne Sila’s “Drowning.”
What a way to close out the free dance competition at the #WinterOlympics! 🥉@MadiHubbell x @ZachTDonohue— Team USA (@TeamUSA) February 14, 2022
The challenging routine featured impressive lifts, including a combination lift with Hubbell achieving a near-overhead position before a flip-over exit, as well as the duo’s trademark speed and power. The depth of emotion displayed by the skaters matched the depth of their edges, and the program earned 130.89 points, a new personal best. Their total score, 218.02, is also a new high.
“We knew we had to be very focused and in the moment during the performance and rely that it would be sufficient, it would be enough,” Hubbell, 30, said.
“We didn’t feel like we left anything undone,” she added. “The athlete in us has to avoid the desire to nitpick, and (think), ‘Oh well, it was one point (deducted) for the extended lift’ and ‘In the (rhythm dance) if I had gotten a Level 4 on the twizzles.’ Every single athlete that skated today has the same ‘what ifs’ and it would probably be a similar result, if we had all skated absolutely perfectly.”
Beijing marks the fifth consecutive Olympics a U.S. team has stood on the ice dance podium. Four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France won gold with 226.98 points. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, reigning world champions representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), took silver with 220.51.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the three-time U.S. champions (2015, 2020, 2022) who train alongside Hubbell and Donohue in Montreal, placed fourth with 214.77 points.