Ice Network

Hubbell, Donohue show mature side to claim title

Beaudry, Sorensen take home silver; Paradis, Ouellette place third
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Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue performed a technically sound rendition of their free dance to Daft Punk's "Adagio for Tron," albeit one that lacked spark. With a total competition score of 153.62, the U.S. bronze medalists easily won the gold, giving them their fifth international title. -Jay Adeff

When Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue moved to Montreal this spring to train under Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, they knew there would be some big changes.

"Marie and Patch [Lauzon] thought we were lacking a certain softness -- a cleanness -- in the way we were skating," Hubbell said. "We had the power and the athleticism. They wanted to work on the quality, and they thought a more classic, dramatic program would showcase that best."

"We're trying to show our maturity, and that requires us to get deeper into ourselves, and not just put on a show," Donohue said.

The result is a free-flowing, dramatic free dance set to Daft Punk's "Adagio from Tron," with a dark yet hopeful message. It is a departure from their programs of recent seasons, which have included The Great Gatsby and a fiery flamenco.

"The concept is abstract, and evolving," Hubbell said. "I am the angel of death and Zachary is a lost man, asking to be put out of his misery. But I show up, and I know that it's not his time."

Time was an issue during the free dance at the 2015 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic on Saturday. Two of the team's lifts sustained one-point deductions for going long. But the concept gelled; pain, angst and possible redemption were clearly on display. The duo gained four Level 4 elements, including one for an intricate and attractive rotational lift with a quick snap-up entrance. The opening twizzles were spot-on, and the spin showed good energy and stretch.

Hubbell and Donohue earned 92.54 points for the free dance and won gold with 153.62 points. It was their fifth international win.

"In our straight-line lift, both of us lost our positions, it was a fluke thing," Donohue said. (The lift dropped to Level 1.) "We want to up the GOEs (Grades of Execution) and program component scores. We have some pretty high goals for our scores this year."

Teams that train alongside Hubbell and Donohue in Montreal took the silver and bronze medals.

Danes Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen skated their free dance to Shawn Phillips' intense ballad "Woman," with choreography that showed off their unique style and deep edges. Sorensen faltered on twizzles, dropping the element to Level 2, but the spin and straight-line lift gained Level 4. They ended with 141.08 points and the silver medal.

"It's still early in the season, and even with small mistakes, we focused on the [connection] between the two of us, not letting go of the unity," Sorensen said. "That was pretty much the goal. We kept our focus together and stayed in the zone."

Elisabeth Paradis and Francois-Xavier Ouellette, fifth in Canada last season, took bronze with their routine to "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The program capitalized on the great on-ice chemistry between the skaters, and was highlighted by Paradis' lovely layback position in the spin. They earned 136.90 total points.

"We had some technical struggles (in the circular footwork), but we were really happy we skated it with good feeling, together," Paradis said.

World junior bronze medalists Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin of Ukraine placed fourth with 122.18 points.

The new U.S. team of Danielle Thomas and Daniel Eaton, who train in Canton, Michigan, under Marina Zoueva and Massimo Scali, skated an energetic and charming program to the traditional Hungarian folk dance Czárdás. Thomas faltered on the twizzles, but the team's three lifts all gained Level 4, and they placed fifth with 120.62 points.

"I think I got too far ahead of myself in the twizzles," Thomas said. "I didn't stay in the moment, and that's when mistakes happen."

"It wasn't our best, but we came here to perform the program and we did that," Eaton said. "We will go back and put in a lot of work with Marina and Massi, doing run-throughs. It will be exciting to watch it improve over the season."