Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue
Official Website - 2012-2017 U.S. Ice Dance Medalists and 2014 ISU Four Continents Ice Dance Champions
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Welcome to our official website! We're thrilled to be sharing our journeys and experiences with you. Below, you can find real-time updates from our social media accounts. To the right, and throughout this website, we'll also be continually posting longer, more comprehensive content. Thanks for your support, and come visit us again often!
Madi & Zach
Madi and Zach's Tweets (@hubbelldonohue)
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Madi and Zach arrive in Osaka for NHK Trophy
Energized and encouraged after a strong bronze medal finish at Skate Canada
November 10, 2017 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in Osaka, Japan for NHK Trophy. It is the fourth of six events in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, and their second of the season.
Madi and Zach come to NHK two weeks after a strong bronze medal performance at Skate Canada, where they achieved their highest free dance scores of their career to date, and their highest overall score in international competition to date. In the short dance, they earned 76.08 points for a sultry, sophisticated short dance featuring the samba and rhumba rhythms.
In the free dance, Madi and Zach wowed commentators and observers with their technique, skating skills, overall execution, and sizzling chemistry en route to a score of 113.35. Their overall competition score of 189.43 is the highest yet achieved by an American ice dance team at one of the six regular Grand Prix events since the elimination of the compulsory dance after the 2009-2010 season. Zach and his coach Patrice Lauzon also appreciated rave reviews from the audience for their physical conditioning.
Also, on October 3rd, Madi and Zach recorded a day-long, behind-the-scenes look into their on- and off-ice activities at their Montréal training base. Parts 1 and 2 - as well as the entire six-part series once it is fully released - can be viewed on their YouTube channel.
In part 3, Madi and Zach engage in a midday workout with trainer James-Michael Lavigne. On this particular day, they focused on strength exercises for the upper body, arms, shoulders, and back. These exercises are conducive to their on-ice routines, which not only involve difficult lifts and sharp, precise arm movements, but also necessitate a strong core.
In part 4, Madi and Zach talk about the rhythms of training before, after, and in between competitions. They also talked about how they see osteopaths and physical therapists on a regular basis to stay healthy and to monitor their bodies so that minor issues do not become injuries.
As this "day in the life" series shows, training full-time as elite figure skaters isn't easy, nor is it all fun and games. Off-ice needs such as physical trainers, doctors, osteopaths, physical therapists, and living expenses come in addition to on-ice expenses such as coaching, choreographers, costumes, ice time, and equipment. Moreover, as foreign citizens living in Montréal, Madi and Zach cannot earn a living on the side - as they could at home - because of an expensive and difficult process involved in obtaining work visas.
You can help Madi and Zach meet some of the costs of making it to the Olympics in two ways. First, as mentioned in a blog post below, Madi's mother Sue is an accomplished designer. Sue makes all of Madi's costumes, and would like to share a Hubbell family tradition by offering custom, hand-made, heirloom stockings for the upcoming holiday season. Please visit their Etsy page where you can purchase these stockings for your family while helping Madi and Zach with their goals.
Second, Madi and Zach maintain a GoFundMe page to assist with training expenses. Any contribution of any size will greatly help Madi and Zach achieve their Olympic goals. Whether you visit these links, like and share their social media posts, or simply include them in your thoughts and wishes, please know that Madi and Zach are infinitely grateful and appreciative of your ongoing support!
- Ice Dancers Madison Hubbell And Zachary Donohue Ready To Take The Next Step To The Olympics (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Who are Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue? (NBC Olympics)
- Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue Set Personal Bests En Route To Skate Canada Bronze (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Support all U.S. Olympic figure skating team members via Destination Pyeongchang (U.S. Figure Skating)
Madi and Zach start their Grand Prix season at Skate Canada
October 26, 2017 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in Regina, Saskatchewan for the 2017 Skate Canada International. It is the second of six events in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, and their first of the season in addition to NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan next month. Since winning the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City last month, they have made some refinements to their programs and costumes, and are ready and eager to demonstrate the results of their training.
If you live in the United States, tune into IceNetwork for a live webcast of the event, the Olympic Channel for a live broadcast, as well as NBC Sports Network and NBC for recap broadcasts. Check your local listings to corroborate this schedule (all times Eastern). If you live in Canada, you can check your local listings for broadcast times on TSN and CTV.
Earlier this month, Madi and Zach offered a behind-the-scenes look into a day at their Centre Gadbois training base in Montréal. This ongoing video series on their newly launched YouTube channel will show the work that they put into a typical day of training, and how their off-ice activities reinforce their work on-ice.
Part 1 covers their morning warmups and routines and discusses how they work with coaches Patrice Lauzon, Marie-France Dubreuil, and the entire team at the Centre Gadbois.
Part 2 shows them run through their short dance during the morning, while Zach discusses their growth as part of Team Gadbois, their goals for the 2017-2018 Olympic season, and their legacy and future as full-time competitive skaters.
Stay tuned for more installments from this look into a day in Madi and Zach's lives. Additionally, Madi and Zach are pleased to receive continued attention from the skating community in the lead-up to the Olympics. Here, Ted Flett of Golden Skate hosts an informative, insightful interview with Madi and Zach.
Madi and Zach are also pleased to receive the continued support of U.S. Figure Skating and have been featured in their YouTube and social media content.
- Who are Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue? (NBC Olympics)
- Gallery: Model Olympians: Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (NBC Olympics)
- Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue | 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (Celebrities News / YouTube)
- All Thru the House: Madi and mom Sue's Etsy page where they offer timeless stockings for the Christmas season
- Madi and Zach's GoFundMe page to assist with training expenses
- Support all U.S. Olympic figure skating team members via Destination Pyeongchang (U.S. Figure Skating)
Family, traditions, and the holidays
Madi invites her fans and supporters to join one of her family's cherished holiday traditions
September 26, 2017 - by Madison Hubbell
I am lucky to have a family that always supports me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood. For people who only know me as a figure skater, it might be surprising to hear that I am a homebody. It is not that I am an introvert, because I am perfectly comfortable being the center of attention. But in my daily life, I have always preferred staying home, spending all my time with family, and taking care of people.
I learned these characteristics from my parents. My parents were very involved in our lives. My father’s favorite lecture was about how true friends are few and far between, but that my siblings would always be there. Our love and respect for each other was nurtured, and the result is that we are all very close to each other, including our extended family. My mother was the creative and caring counterpart to my father. She made our home comfortable, so we never wanted to leave anyway.
Christmas has always been a special time for my family. In reality, I think it was just the best excuse to spend time together. As a competitive athlete, I’ve missed many celebrations through the years. I loved Christmas, if only for the sheer fact that the ice rinks were all closed. No matter what, Christmas was a day that I could count on to see my family.
We had many traditions that went along with this special day. Every year my mother would make pecan pie, cheesecake, Russian tea cakes, and almond bark. She taught me how to make all of her signature desserts, and we would spend the days before the celebration in the kitchen, baking together. My mother would decorate the house with special homemade goodies.
One of the traditions that became most important to us were the stockings my mother made. She designed beautiful, handmade stockings, and spent the whole year collecting small presents to fill them. We became so excited about Christmas morning that we couldn't sleep through the night! We had to make a rule that, before opening the stockings, we had to check with our parents.
As kids, my brothers and I would wake up every half hour, starting at about 2 a.m. (Even in recent years I have had trouble sleeping past 5 a.m.) Finally, after about the tenth time we snuck into our parents’ bedroom to ask, they would let us go ahead and open them. There were sweets, games, socks, nail polish, lotions, etc… but my mother was smart! She always made sure to put in a video game or movie that could both entertain us and buy my parents a few more hours of rest!
These are memories I will cherish forever. As the years have passed, things have also changed. Our extended family has spread out across the country. We have more vegans and vegetarians to accommodate in the family, and the first grandchild was born last year.
But one thing that has stood the test of time is my mother’s handmade stockings. One year, in fact, skating expenses were piled up during the holidays. We decided that we had to make a choice: give and receive presents, or open stockings. We took a vote, and it was a unanimous win for stockings! Even now, as I live in Montréal with my boyfriend, we have our own stockings, and I have introduced him to our tradition.
As my brothers and I grew older, we realized that for many years my parents’ own stockings were mostly decorations. My parents were generous with us, and quite practical with themselves. They might have put a few things in the stockings for each other, but mostly things like socks, a lotion, maybe some coffee beans. As we became more independent, we started to do more and more to fill my parents’ stockings each season. I even help my mother fill my brothers’ stockings. (Not that she needs help… sometimes they overflow into piles of stuff next to each stocking!)
One of the things I like to do while traveling for skating is to look for treasures to bring home and put in the family stockings. I look for small treasures from the cultures I visit. One Christmas, after my first year traveling to Japan, I went a little overboard. Most of my family loves Japanese food, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get things for them they would not find at home. I brought home many candies and edibles. It didn't seem quite so exciting once they started opening things that I couldn’t even I remember what they were!!!
So, why am I talking about Christmas in September? I am not trying to annoy you – like the Halloween section of the grocery store in August, or the Christmas music on November 1st. As you know, it is the Olympic season. The cost of training is high, and to be competitive, the expenses always seem to be increasing. It seems no matter how hard we work, and no matter what the skating budget is, there is always more that needs to be paid. Not only would some extra funds help with training, but it could also allow my parents to travel to Pyeongchang to watch us compete if we qualify for the Olympics.
This is where my mother comes to my rescue. She had a brilliant idea to create an Etsy page and share the beautiful stockings we have made. She has had many requests from people wanting to purchase them, as such quality stockings are rare to find. The stockings my mother sews have always been special. They are generous in size and hold lots of treasures, with hand-selected combinations of textiles that are both unique and timeless. We have teamed up and are turning them into a business for the holiday to raise funds for Pyeongchang. We began a few months ago by Skyping and sending pictures back and forth. Thank goodness for technology, since we can design together and share our love of creating even at a long distance. We have a goal to sell 200 stockings this season. This is where you come in!
We are almost ready to launch our Etsy shop. Check back here, or on any of my social media platforms (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook), as I will be posting the link in early October. (Update: the link is now live.) When the site is up and running, it would be a great help if you would share it, post it, "pin" it, etc. Help me get the word to people who love the holiday season as much as I do! I know people will love the stockings we have designed, and I know these stockings will become the same treasured heirlooms for them as they have been in our family. It will be a win-win situation for everyone!
Thank you all for your support!!
A conversation among friends
Madi shares a fun Q&A with fellow Team USA members Karina Manta and Joseph Johnson
September 28, 2017 - by Madison Hubbell
Hey guys! I wanted to take a break from writing about myself. I am beginning to feel self-indulgent. I’ve had many ideas about what to write, but there is one subject that I feel I must write about. This was not an idea born from my imagination. This blog entry fell into my lap while I was watching the events from Lake Placid Ice Dance Challenge.
I knew immediately that I needed to shine some well-deserved light onto a team I respect for their athleticism, passion, and dedication. In U.S. ice dance, there is not enough press to go around. We have so many talented, successful teams, and some deserving athletes don’t seem to make it into the limelight. It is not fair, but it is reality. And I know, trust me, that my tiny blog is not considered “press.” But when I finished watching the programs of Karina Manta and Joseph Johnson, I thought it would be fun to praise them a bit in my blog!
So, bear with me, since I have never conducted an interview before! I communicated this sentiment to Karina and Joe, but they were gracious enough to go along with my idea, despite my being completely unqualified. I began with the typical questions.
1. What made you begin ice skating, and later ice dancing?
Joe: I started skating when I was eight after seeing on TV that one gets stuffed animals thrown at them when they're done competing... so maybe not the most inspiring reason to start figure skating. I began in freestyle, but I never really enjoyed jumping or competing in singles. I started ice dance when I was 15 because it was a way of skating and moving that I had never tried before, and I instantly fell in love with it as a form of self-expression.
Madi: My family will already understand why this is a funny coincidence…but I will let you in on the joke! I began skating as a five-year old girl after watching Kristi Yamaguchi on TV. First, I wanted to look just like her. (Turns out, this wasn't ever going to happen for me.) Second, I wanted people to throw flowers at me! The irony is that Joe and I could live in a hoarders’ heaven of flowers and stuffed animals for the money we spend on skating. I venture to guess it wouldn't feel the same, though. Karina had more reasonable reasons for beginning her career.
Karina: I started to skate after attending an ice rink birthday party when I was about five, but I got into ice dancing fairly late in my career. I didn’t begin ice dancing until I was 16. I had still been competing as a singles skater when I started skating in the solo dance series as a fun kind of side project, but I immediately fell in love with dance and knew that it was what I wanted to pursue from then on. I loved finding a sense of personal expression in dance that I hadn’t yet explored in my singles career, and I loved the creative possibilities of working with another person.
Madi: Sometimes the universe brings you together with people you were supposed to know better. I realized that Karina and Joe were my kind of people with this very first answer!
2. Did you guys have partners before each other? How did you know that you had found the right partner in each other?
Joe: Yes! I have had a few, and I'm fortunate in that (at least from my end) I'm still on good terms with all of them. I knew I had found the right partner in Karina because, more than anything, I have so much fun with her. We spend so much time together and work so hard. It's not worth it if it isn't fun.
Karina: I had one other partner prior to skating with Joe (we competed novice dance together in the 2012-2013 season). I don’t want to sound too cheesy, but Joe and I are truly best friends on and off the ice. We have the same goals and similar approaches to training, but I think what makes our partnership work is the fact that we are always just trying to enjoy ourselves and have fun with each other. We obviously take our jobs as athletes seriously, but we try to avoid taking ourselves too seriously in the process.
Madi: Now, I am going to call out Karina and Joe here. This answer sounds fake, and a bit cheesy. We all try to make the perfect partnership where we are best friends, never disagree, and always have fun. Key word: try. Training and competing are stressful, and while I am close with Zach, we do fight sometimes. Like family, right? I wouldn't have believed Karina and Joe, and their perfect partnership, if I didn't know them. But in their case, I actually think the dream is possible. So here is their truthful answer. But it still makes me hate them a little… just kidding!
3. What are your goals for this season? What do you see as your future in this sport?
Joe: Not to kill a cliché, but the goal for me is always to show personal growth. I feel as though part of the reason I admire you and Zach so much is because you're so true to your artistic approach and to yourselves, and you're all the better for it. I would like to be like that. However far we go, whatever we achieve, I just want to walk away proud of what we've done, and that we've done it on our terms.
Karina: I think we find we perform and train the best when we put a focus on our personal growth. A major goal of ours is simply to become stronger skaters than we were in previous seasons. I know we’ve been focusing a lot this year on our components - overall skating quality, power over the ice, etc. - so hopefully that is reflected in our programs this year. As for the future, we’d love to break into the Grand Prix circuit some point soon and challenge ourselves in that next level of competition.
4. So, let’s go a bit deeper. I feel like in this judging system, there are many things that aren’t “worth” the effort because you don’t usually get credit for doing them. Yet, when I watched your programs, they are jam-packed with tricks, assisted jumps, and intricate choreography. Why do you make the decision to keep pushing the system and yourselves as much as possible? Do you ever contemplate taking an “easier” or “safer” approach?
Joe: Thank you so much for saying that. On the front of our programs being full of tricks, we absolutely have Christopher Dean, who does all of our choreography, to thank. And what's so wonderful about working with him is that he doesn't see it as adding difficulty to dodge an easier approach. His elements are so original, and he's so committed to his artistic vision, that you can't help but also be. Often we talk about what's worth the energy or if something is unnecessarily difficult. But, truly, the work is so fun. It challenges us year to year, and it makes us constantly have to try and be better to do it justice. To me, that's why we do things that might not necessarily be rewarded in the score. Plus, it does mean the world when people like you tell us they see the effort we put into those transitional moments.
Karina: Seriously, thank you for noticing!! Haha… sometimes we worry people can’t always notice the difficulty of some of the transitional elements that find their way into our programs. The goal is to make it all look effortless, but it’s always nice when people understand how hard you worked to include those intricate moments. I think our programs always end up pushing the system because we work so closely with Christopher Dean. To this day, he has such a revolutionary approach to the sport, and I feel we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t invest completely in trying to make his work come to life. Obviously, a big part of this sport is being an athlete, but I think beyond anything else we are also artists. I know I get very personally attached to our work, and I always find myself not wanting to stray from the artistic vision of the program. When you focus on making art you truly believe in, the idea of being “safer” doesn’t really cross your mind because you’re so invested in sharing work that you truly care about.
5. What are the advancements you would like to see within our sport?
Joe: I would like to see more artistic diversity being rewarded. There is so much good music out there, and so many interesting styles of dance that have never been seen by figure skating. In ice dance, there's a very reasonable fear of going for something unexpected because one doesn't want the piece to be seen as token, or a sideshow to a traditional piece that will ultimately be rewarded higher for its interpretation. I would like to see that fear go away eventually, and that if a program is true to a style of dance, and is executed athletically well, that it is appreciated and scored accordingly. Also, without going into excessive detail, because I have ranted about this more often than I care to say: more body positivity!
Madi: Oh yes! Positive body image for the win! I can definitely get behind that. It is, after all, 2017!
Karina: I also think diversity is something that can truly expand the skating world. If you look at the off-ice dance world, I think the public becomes really captivated because there are so many different avenues of creativity and so many different approaches to what falls under the category of “dance.” I think if our sport can expand its borders and maybe even encourage concepts that diverge from the typical concept of a free dance, we might see some incredible growth. Outside the competitive world, I find myself wishing there were more opportunities for ice dance to be showcased beyond the setting of competitive events. I think if there were more professional avenues for skaters to perform pieces without all of the limitations a competitive setting entails, we might see teams create some really cool work that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to make.
6. Do you guys have any ideas for new rules, new elements?
Joe: As far as new rules/elements go, I wouldn't mind a few being removed, on both fronts. Required elements take time, and the more that are added, the less time you have to show creativity outside the technical requirements of those elements. And, touching on what I said about artistic diversity, one rule that I would love to see gone is music needing an "audible dance beat." That rule, by itself, eliminates so many incredible pieces of music. There are ways to show good timing without a step happening on a drum, or a cymbal edited in to a piece of music to highlight the count. I believe we all as athletes could show that, given the opportunity.
Karina: I don’t know if adding rules will really lead to the diversity we’d love to see in dance. I think rules tend to be limiting, and they end up sometimes leading to a more pain-by-number approach to creating pieces. I think by freeing up the sport and allowing teams to experiment, new elements and ideas could naturally start popping up. I agree that reducing the restrictions on music could be a fun place to start. I know I always get excited when teams skate to music that hasn’t really been used much before or when teams use music in an innovative way, and I think that could happen more often if there were less restrictions.
Madi: I totally agree with Karina and Joe about the music regulations! As a sport, I know that rules are necessary to create fair and understandable judging criteria. But I believe that ice dance should have two distinct programs. The short dance, which is more regulated, with specified rhythms and themes. Then, in the free dance, I think we could open up the music regulations a bit more. No more change of rhythms needed, and no more change of expression. After all, people speak about the “golden ages” of ice dance and compare the programs of today to programs performed before the new International Judging System was introduced. I think it would be really interesting to see what people might do with the same physical requirements, but with more artistic freedom, especially with their musical choices.
7. Any details you would like to share about your programs for this season?
Joe: I, for one, am over the moon that I'm being allowed to skate un-ironically to the Pussycat Dolls!
Karina: Our programs this year are some of my favorites to date! I think both have given us the opportunity to show a side to our skating we haven’t really explored much yet, so it’s been fun to explore the new dynamics they bring.
Madi: I suppose I was drawn to write about this team because I see parts of myself in them. I have always wanted to win, but even more so, I want to be proud of what I am doing. As Karina and Joe begin their competition today in Obertsdorf, representing Team USA, I hope you all take a moment to watch them on YouTube or on live stream. First, to support two of the nicest people. Second, for your own enjoyment. Their love of skating and performing is infectious!
Madi and Zach open the Olympic season by winning the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic
Strong debut of new programs receives high marks and rave reviews
September 28, 2017 – Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach debuted their new short and free dances en route to winning the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City this month. They received 71.15 points for their fresh, exciting short dance, a samba and rhumba combination, where they reached level 4 on the required rhumba pattern and received positive grades of execution on all elements.
For their sultry, sophisticated free dance to Beth Hart's "Caught Out in the Rain," they earned 107.65 points, one of their highest scores to date. Five of their elements attained level 4, and once again they received strong, positive grades of execution on all elements. Their combined score of 178.80 is their third highest to date in international competition.
After the competition, Madi and Zach had the following words to say, beginning at 1:27.
Their next competitions will be Skate Canada International in Regina, Saskatchewan; NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan; and the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California, where they will seek a berth on the U.S. team for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
In particular, Madi and Zach are grateful for the attention they have received this summer in anticipation of the Olympics. Here, they took part in a fun interview with U.S. Figure Skating.
Madi and Zach are also excited to participate in events organized by the U.S. Olympic Committee. This week, they are in Park City, Utah for the Team USA Media Summit. Last month, they also had lots of fun giving candid answers in a Reddit AMA. Moreover, they attended U.S. Figure Skating's Champs Camp in Colorado Springs last month, where they engaged in additional media events.
They also took the time during the summer to support important causes and fellow skaters, participating in Skate for Hope in Wesley Chapel, Florida on June 3rd and an exhibition for Jeremy and Lucy Barrett in Fort Collins, Colorado on July 11th. They also performed at the Saturday Night Ice Show in Lake Placid, New York on August 5th.
- From the Summit: Donohue wants no less than gold (IceNetwork)
- Hubbell, Donohue dominate at U.S. Int'l Classic (IceNetwork)
- Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue take ice dance title in Salt Lake City (ESPN / Associated Press)
- Who will be ice dance's breakout stars in 2017-18? (IceNetwork)
- Hubbell, Donohue in top form at Ice Show (Lake Placid News)
- Madi and Zach's GoFundMe page to assist with training expenses
- Support all U.S. Olympic figure skating team members via Destination Pyeongchang (U.S. Figure Skating)
Thank God it's Friday!
Madi writes about the rhythms of summer training and how her support network, anchored by her boyfriend Adriàn Díaz, keeps her grounded
September 1, 2017 - by Madison Hubbell
I am tired.
Somehow, every year, I am surprised by how hard training feels in the late summer. May and June are all fun and games. We spend our spring days creating, absorbed in the potential of our programs. With no competition on the horizon, the pace is manageable. We are lulled into a false sense of stamina, and then, BOOM! Summer training is there to prove our inadequacy.
I have been thinking about this phenomenon and how every year the fatigue sneaks up on us. Then it dawned on me. It is the action of progress that creates our pain. It’s the thing we dream of, but when it arrives, we dread it. And the truth with elite sport, in any field, is that success is fleeting. People are constantly doing more, training harder, and pushing that bar a little higher for the rest of us. You win today, but if you don’t keep reaching, you will lose tomorrow.
Sometimes we play the victim. We tell ourselves “I don’t want to do it!” “This sucks!” But as 26 year old athletes, no one is forcing us to do anything. We show up day after day for our prescribed torture. When our self-pity becomes too annoying for our coaches, they offer us an alternative. “I made your training plan based on your goals. If you want to change your goal, we can change your training.” They don’t wait for a response, because they already know what it will be.
It is on these days when I’m so tired that I realize how much I need my support system, which includes my partner, my family, and my training mates. But it is my boyfriend, Adrian, that takes the brunt of my insanity. We live together, train together, and complain together. It is our routine. We come home after training. We tell each other about our frustrations. We talk about how hard our day was, where we’re sore, and sometimes we ask each other’s opinion on things. Sometimes the discussion is serious, and we listen accordingly. Sometimes we just need to release our tensions, and we do a great job "listening" to each other while the words flow in one ear and out the other.
I am lucky to have someone who understands me. I have realized over the years how important this dynamic is, and I suppose this is why athletes very often end up marrying other athletes. Adrian and I have been together for almost three years now. We understand each other well in our everyday approach to life and in our roles as athletes. I want to thank him for all his support, particularly lately, as I’ve needed him even more than usual.
In the past few weeks, my emotions have been a roller coaster. I am sure there is some evidence to prove that an athlete’s hormones change during peak training, but I will not use that as my excuse. My truth is… there is always a crushing low that comes after a high. I am learning to control myself, but it takes time.
Zach and I had a productive summer that culminated with our week at Champs Camp. Champs Camp is a high-performance camp organized by U.S. Figure Skating for its athletes who will represent Team USA on the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. We get together to meet and do photo shoots with media, get information from the federation, and most importantly, show our programs to our officials. We worked hard in preparation. The week went great, and we were left exhausted. Not only exhausted from the altitude (we skated at 6,000 feet!) but also from the effort and excitement of the process. We came home, jumped right back into training, and I crashed! Less physically, than emotionally.
Feelings can be deceiving. This is a fact. What I feel on the ice is not necessarily what people see. Knowing this is the first step. When you feel so strongly about something at a particular moment, however, it is hard to convince yourself that the reality can be different. This is where Adrian enters the equation.
Let me give you a rundown of my week. I think it will be easier to demonstrate my point this way.
First day training fully after Champs Camp. I was feeling pretty positive, but there was a voice in the back of my head saying "only 12 training days until your first event!" We didn't have too many things to tweak in our programs after receiving feedback at Champs Camp. We just needed to change a few steps here and there to ensure that we could get maximum scores. But I was not able to control the little voice in my head, and my impatience and frustration started to come out. The cycle of panic had begun! Stress level: 5/10
I talked with Adrian at night and he ensured me that we looked great in our training. He listened to me, tried to console me, and we moved on.
Feeling like I had been too stressed on the previous day, I knew I needed to relax. I felt like we hadn't accomplished much on Monday due to my attitude, so I assumed that if I could control my emotions, we would make progress in leaps and bounds. That’s a TRAP! With an expectation of greatness, we were sure to fail. And we did! No matter what we might have accomplished, I would have never been pleased. Stupid brain! Panic rising! Stress level: 6/10
I came home to Adrian with the same complaints as the day before. He knows me well enough to know that he can't say anything to steer me off the course I’m heading. He listened supportively, but there was no getting through to me.
Officially two weeks before leaving for competition. Stressed. Starting to get a bit fatigued. Two nights of poor sleep quality followed by early-morning wake-ups didn't add positivity into the equation. With the fatigue in my body, I felt like I was skating terribly. It was only a feeling… but I am sure everything looked very similar to usual. Yet through my mind’s eye, we were falling apart! And the thing is, once your brain decides something, it is really hard for your body to do something different. My quiet, internal panic had escalated into an irrational anger by the end of the day. Stress level: 8/10
On the walk home, I began to show Adrian what was going on in my head. I ranted while my voice gained strength and volume. He knew the time was coming. He answered back with advice, that on any other day may have been taken well. But Wednesday was not any other day. Once we arrived home I began to unravel. I started to realize that I was screaming, feeling helpless, and out of control. I wanted to fix everything, to feel great, to be perfect.
This three-day decline wasn't in my plan. Eventually, I broke down into hysterical tears. I had said everything I needed to say, most of which made no sense. The words were not important, just the act of taking it all out. I needed to let it out, and I am lucky to have a boyfriend that understands me completely. He let me yell, cut him off, and get angry. When I broke down into tears, he was there, holding me and helping me breathe again. I was free to implode, in the company of someone who loves me completely. There was no judgment there.
I was already feeling better. Skating felt easier, and my stress level is down to 4/10.
I hope for another better day… but I will try not to expect anything. I can only be in the moment… in the “what is” instead of the “what it should be.”
This is the reality of my career. I don’t think I am the only athlete that struggles with this, but I can’t speak for anyone else. I thought I would share my insecurities with you, and maybe it will help someone feel more sane. I feel free to share my struggles with you, as I write comfortably from my home, next to my loving dog and boyfriend. I have my people who make me feel sane, loved, and accepted. They listen to me, they respect me, and they help me to get through my days. They know who they are, and I wouldn’t be here without them.
"Mom, do you think you have time to...?"
Madi writes about the unconditional love and selfless dedication of her mom, Sue Hubbell
July 27, 2017 - by Madison Hubbell
When I was growing up, costume season for me was not in July, but in September. "What should I be for Halloween?" For many years, my mother endured this question and responded with feigned enthusiasm. She is officially a saint!
Unlike with most mothers, however, our unrealistic costume requests would always land at the foot of her sewing machine. Whether it was my five-year old self thinking that my "I Dream of Jeannie" costume would give me the figure of a fully-developed woman, or my brother complaining about the accuracy of his Sabretooth Tiger teeth, she managed it all. Little did she know that, after all those years of hard work, it was actually her wearing the ultimate costume. It is not flashy, and she hides it well. A dangling thread here, a tape measure there. The people close to her know who she is. Watch out, Super Mom is coming through! And if you aren't nice, she will discreetly drop sewing pins into the carpet for you to step on later!
In these blogs I like to write about what’s on my mind at that moment. This week, I wasn't necessarily thinking of writing about my mom. I had a few ideas in my head when, all of a sudden, someone made me realize how special she is. Let's face it, we all take our mothers for granted – at least until we become parents ourselves. Then, we begin to comprehend the reality. We understand how much they love us, how selfless they are, and how many sacrifices they make for us. I am writing as if I understand already, which I don't. I am trying, and little by little I become more conscious. But I look back on my childhood, and how many times we had the same conversation:
Me: I love you, mom!
Mom: I love you more, Madi!
Me: No you don't! I love you SOOOO much!
Mom: Trust me… when you have kids you will understand. It is impossible for you to love me as much as I love you!
I always thought that she was just playing the game, trying to "out love" me. But as I grow up I think that this is the reality. I can love her until my heart explodes, and it will always pale in comparison to the love she has for me.
So, how did this topic pop into my head? Zach and I were doing an interview earlier this week with NBC. The conversation was the typical pre-season discussion. What our reflections were of last year, as well as a look ahead into the Olympic year. At one point we discussed the difficulty of living in Montréal, far from my family. I agreed that "the distance is challenging, and the 12-hour drive makes it difficult for me to go home more than once or twice a year. My mother, however, drives back and forth more often to do my costumes."
I said it just like that, with no breath between the phrases. And even then it didn't dawn on me. The selflessness of it all. The reporter was the one who helped me realize how amazingly lucky I am. She said, "Wow, that’s great! You are so lucky that your mother is still able to make your costumes, even though she is far away." The interview continued on, but there was a mark left in my mind for the next few days. The truth is, I never questioned if my mother would continue to make my costumes from a long distance. Of course she would, because she always has, and because that is what I wanted. It is the consistency that makes me take things for granted. My mother has always been there for me – so much so that I would be shocked if she wasn’t.
I have a closet full of handmade, hand-beaded skating costume masterpieces. I suppose you could have expected that after 20 years in this sport. What you might not know is that my mom doesn’t just make skating costumes. She made our Halloween costumes for years. For all three of her kids! She has made everything from Alice in Wonderland to a boa constrictor with a stuffed ten-foot body. She outdid herself with every project, and each following year we would always come back with a more extravagant request. I couldn't find all of the photos, but I added a few so you can see some of her hard work! Now, with her children all grown up, we don't ask her for Halloween costumes anymore.
The work, however, doesn't end! In the past three years, we have been slowly experimenting with more and more clothing. When I say "we," it means that I send her pictures and drawings, and she makes my dreams a reality! She makes me training clothes as well as streetwear. If any of you have ever met me and complimented me on what I was wearing, there is a good chance I said, "Thanks, my mom made it."
So, I guess I have to say THANK YOU, MOM! I love you SOOOO much, but never possibly as much as you love me. I feel it every time I am wearing one of the many things you have made me. I know that every mom has their own language of love, and for you, sewing is your native tongue! All I can say is, thank GOD we have the same sense of style!
Forever your Soul Sister,
Madi continues her previous blog entry with her thoughts on how her and Zach's expectations can affect their partnership
July 17, 2017 - by Madison Hubbell
Oh... did you expect me to write part 2 of this blog entry in a timely fashion? You must have been disappointed. Because this is the thing with expectations - they almost always leave you underwhelmed. This is one of the "secrets of life" that has been passed on to me, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
I have worked with many sports psychologists and life coaches along this journey. I suppose it is par for the course when you are an elite athlete in one of the only Olympic sports that is a mixed-gender event.
Let us say: communication is key. Zach and I have an incredibly strong partnership, and I think a big part of our chemistry comes from the way we clash. We are matched in many ways – our dedication, loyalty, style, or size. The things we cannot excel without. We are not matched in our communication patterns, working styles, or social behavior. Our personalities blend to make fire, and it either really works, or it really doesn’t. We have been through many ups and downs in our career, with personal and professional struggles. In the tough times, we sought out advice. As I write this, I can't help but to hear a song endlessly repeating in my mind. "I get by with a little help from my friends."
In some of our tough times, we had a wonderful friend, Ruth Ann. I remember sitting in her office, crying, trying to explain what I felt was my deserved frustration. Don’t worry, it wasn't the end of the world. I am a crier when it comes time to talk about feelings. Anyway, I remember all of this stress I had, telling her what I wanted our training to be like, and how I felt we were losing time or energy with our frustrations. She listened, patiently, and replied by rephrasing my thoughts. "So, you expect training to be..." What a trick! Of course I expected training to be wonderful, so I answered with an enthusiastic "Yes!" Finally, I had been heard and someone agreed with me. I was ready to figure out how to make things perfect!
But, man, she gave me some whiplash as she began to explain herself. She wanted to give me an exercise…ME? What did I do? I just wanted to get along, have fun, be productive, skate well, and reach every goal we ever set! What is wrong with that? Her exercise was to have no expectations of how things would go during any given day. My first reaction was that this sounded like a lazy way out, an excuse to behave how we want. But as she explained, it began to make sense. For planners like me, we have our days mapped out in our heads. We have already decided what would be best for us, and we try to turn the dream day of our minds into our reality. This is basically impossible. I had built so many expectations around our skating, that even on a perfect day, I couldn’t appreciate it.
After all, this is what we are supposed to do. Why would we applaud ourselves for doing our job? Expectations are tricky that way. While it is good to have a standard for ourselves, we cannot let ourselves fall into a pattern of underappreciation. If we had a rough day, it was a failure. A good day, it was normal, nothing to write home about. I was not appreciating myself, or the people around me. An endless cycle of feeling like I hadn't done enough. I think that many athletes struggle with this concept. To acknowledge our achievements every single day does not discourage improvement. I can admire my skating while still knowing there is work to be done. I can be happy that Zach and I only irritated each other 5 times today, because we laughed together another 20 times.
I have heard this sentiment so many times, in other forms. Quotes and insights about the unattainable perfection, or to love ourselves. Somehow, these other angles didn't give me a clear enough picture for my mind to grab hold of them. This idea stuck, like when my babysitter told me to throw spaghetti against a wall to see if it is ready. Sorry Italians, true story... al dente means that we can also use spaghetti like glue, right?
So I guess I wanted to share this idea of expectation with you. Maybe this will help someone, like it did for me. Maybe someone will decide to expect nothing from their day, and to just be present in the moment. You might be surprised by all of the wonderful things you are missing.
A new blog entry from Madi on her journey this Olympic season
June 29, 2017 – by Madison Hubbell
"We should really be better about taking photos!"
This is the voice of my mom, and if this was a vlog you would hear my "mom voice," and see the quintessential face that goes along with nagging. She doesn't whine or make that face, but daughters are meant to give our moms a hard time, right? This habit of imitating my mom began in my teen years, and it hasn't fully disappeared yet. Nevertheless, she is right. We should all be better about documenting these moments.
My family and I spent a week in Florida, some of whom I haven't seen in five years. At the end of the trip, we finally picked up our phones to send a group text asking each other to share photos of our vacation. The problem is we were all too busy relaxing to actually take any pictures. It is hard to believe that I even went on vacation, since I didn't post anything on Instagram all week long! In this social media world, where we're obsessed with documenting everything we do in point-of-view perspective, you might have thought I was a liar if it weren't for my tan.
It is a double-edged sword, however, to be so oblivious to our phones and cameras. Because the truth is I wish I had more photos. I wish that I was rich, and that I could pay people to follow me around and take wonderful candid pictures of my life. Kind of like a wedding photographer. Oooh! Or a videographer so that I could create an endless highlight reel of my days. I would then have someone create slideshows, montages, and scrapbooks that I could admire as I grow old! Wouldn't that be lovely? But alas, that is unrealistic, for reasons beyond money.
And when I have the option of living 100% in the moment, or pausing my life to take a photo that couldn't possibly capture the beauty of it all, I choose the former. So, you will all have to take my word for it. My vacation was beautiful, and full of happy moments with the people that are mine, whether I want them or not! ;) I have no photos to cherish, but I will be doing all of my Alzheimer's-preventing brain games to ensure my memories last a lifetime!
We are now back in Montréal, our vacations over, and it is time to come back to reality. We spent our first week after vacation on the ice showing the federation our programs. We are happy and relieved to say that our feedback was all positive, considering that one year ago we were trying to convince the panel (which consists of 40+ officials) that "Turn Down For What" was going to be a podium-worthy program by the end of the season! This year, we're happy to say that all of the officials gave us their approval from the start. Please, no more "we will see how it develops" or "well, if you really believe in it, you will just have to prove it to us." It is the Olympics, after all!
This "go ahead" from the federation means that the "fun" choreography part of the season is coming to a close. The dial turns down on creation, and the dial on relentless repetition turns up. This is always the part of the season where I feel it is hardest to control my frustration. The thing is: I love choreographing. The work is somewhat easy on the body, without runthroughs, and the possibilities are endless. I am in a euphoric state of lazy imagination. Now we have programs, and if I play my music and shut my eyes, I see how amazing those programs will be.
The crappy part is that no matter how good you are, learning new things takes time. We are starting to push our bodies again, both physically and mentally. We need to create the connection between concept and reality. My brain is telling my body to do all the elements, transitions, and details that we have planned, and there my body is... 5'8" of awkward. Melodramatic? Maybe! But when I watch myself on tape at this part of the season, it is never quite what I expect. But it’s a funny thing, expectation...
-- To be continued --
Madi and Zach announce their short and free dances for the 2017-2018 season
June 13, 2017 - Webmaster Update
In her latest blog entry below, Madi reveals the short dance music that she and Zach will be using this season. This comes on top of Madi's recent Instagram announcement where she revealed that they will be skating to Beth Hart's "Caught Out in the Rain" for their free dance this coming season.
Separately, both Madi and Zach are currently enjoying some well-deserved vacation time. They will also perform at Skate for Hope, a fundraiser for those affected by cancer, in Wesley Chapel, Florida on June 17th. If you haven't seen them live, please check them out and benefit a worthy cause at the same time!
When the sun is warm...
The third in a series of blog entries from Madi chronicling the 2017-2018 season
June 10, 2017 – by Madison Hubbell
Hey guys! So, it’s Saturday evening, and I am finally sitting down to write the blog that I intended to write on Monday. This is my life. I am constantly missing things that are important to me, because my priority has to be my sport. I have been in this cycle for 20 years, and it seems more normal than abnormal. I have a priority in my life, so I cannot always do what I would like to in each moment.
It is hard, however, to balance the important people in my life. For example, my first nephew was born last year, and he is now 9 months old. I have seen him twice, for a total of 3 days. I know that many people have to make hard decisions between family, work, opportunity, and compromise. It is not only me who wishes for the superpower of teleportation, so I could be exactly where I want to be at any given moment. I have always dreamed of a life that gives me the ability to surround myself with family, children, and the simple things.
Speaking of family, tomorrow morning I get to go on vacation with 15 of my family members! This is something absolutely unheard of for me, and I am so excited. I think this is why I was unable to write my blog. I kept sitting down to think about what to write, and the subjects would blur together and make a word soup. There were some good bits, but as a whole, it didn't make a lot of sense.
On ice, our goal of last week was to choreograph our short dance before we left on vacation. We knew that it would be easier to relax knowing that our work was done; then we could come home and start training. I tried on Monday and Tuesday to write something, but all that was circling in my head was the drum beat of "Le Serpent" by Guem. I was picturing our midline step, trying to remember the arms that our ballroom coach gave to us. I tried on Wednesday and Thursday to narrow my scope, and pinpoint a more specific concept. But I couldn't focus, thinking of how appropriate our rumba music was for my upcoming vacation. The beautiful voice of Talya Ferro singing "Cuando Calienta el Sol" made me picture my coming days relaxing by the water. As the week came to a close, and my excitement rose, we finished with a high energy finale. My mood was perfect on Friday for a samba finish... and I can't wait to show you what our hard work produced!
But for now, I AM ON VACATION!!!
As I stated before, I don't get to see my family very much. This week will be the first time I see my Aunt Marcy and Uncle Shawn, and my three cousins, in over 5 years. So, I won't be on social media much, and I won't be writing another blog entry this coming week. I will come back to you guys in the third week of June, as I begin my countdown to the U.S. Figure Skating Champs Camp! I hope you take the week to appreciate the family you have, whether it is the one you are born into, or the one that you have chosen for yourself. I will be spending the week soaking in all the love, laughter, and chaos that I can manage.
And hopefully I won't forget my choreography!
The second in a regular series of blog entries from Madi for the 2017-2018 season
May 29, 2017 - by Madison Hubbell
"Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won't take it."
E·go (noun): a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance
Psy·cho·a·nal·y·sis (noun): the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity
My ego is one of the things I struggle with the most. This past week, I am afraid to say that I didn't manage it very well.
It has taken me a long time to begin understanding a bit more about what ego actually is, and how it manifests itself in my life. I won't take credit for this, as I had someone very brilliant guiding the way. I always thought ego was something you could have, or not have. I thought I was down to earth, humble, kind, non-judgmental, and therefore without ego. But there it is, my ego. I believe I am better than other people who think they are better than everyone.
Try to wrap your mind around that!
So how does this affect my life on a daily basis? I am lucky to have a team of coaches whose talents are tremendous, and I have no problem taking corrections from them. I do, however, have a hard time taking instruction from my partner. I know that I am fortunate to have an amazingly talented partner. I would like him, however, to stop talking sometimes. I can understand that his opinion is valid, and he has good advice, but when he corrects me I get defensive. Defensive, because maybe it means that it is my fault. What is my fault, you ask? Who knows. It could be anything, and it is usually nothing. When he corrects me, I get defensive and impatient, and in response he becomes more adamant about correcting me. Do you see where this could be tricky? It is like most interactions in life. Push me, and I might push you back.
I saw something recently that explained that the fear that you feel leading into something important is very powerful. Yet, in the moments with the most risk, we are the least afraid. This is so true. I am afraid of failing when I am training. Failing to make progress, failing to enjoy myself, failing to be enough. But when we step out to compete, that fear is not there. The moments of greatest risk are usually the moments we feel in control, and calm. So what if I could tap into that calm every day? I don't think it is possible to avoid ego and fear completely, but if I could make them take a backseat to freedom and joy, I could maximize all of the good things in my life. And there is a lot of good.
There is another aspect to my life that gets complicated with ego.
In this sport, we are subjecting ourselves to constant critique. It is not who runs faster, or jumps higher. We are at the mercy of human interpretation, and no matter how fair, there are opinions and errors involved. And in the quest for perfection, I can let my fear and ego take over. I hear my mentors saying, "You are a team. Win together, and lose together." This is absolutely true! I experienced this at Worlds in Helsinki. But I have to admit my human flaws, and say that it is so much easier to be the person who consoles the one who screwed up.
Please, please, please don't misunderstand me. I have been there, and I was the one falling just a few months before at Nationals. I feel bad that Zach fell, and I wish that I could take away that pain for him. I am not mad at him, and I do not blame him. But I did not want to be him in that moment. I know how your ego is bruised when that happens. As much as you want to do it again for yourself, you want to go prove to everyone else that you can do it even more. It is that whisper in your head saying, "Everyone thinks you are a loser." This is not true, and nobody is saying that. I know this because I think of my peers making mistakes, and never once have I thought something with that sentiment. It is merely our egos playing tricks on us.
So, I am grateful to have become more aware of this aspect of who I am. I have fallen many times, and learned many lessons from the tough moments in this journey. The timing of the fall at Worlds was particularly eye opening. I realized that in one second I could go from almost seizing a dream in the palm of my hand to simply turning my palm and seeing it slip away. And yet nobody cared. This isn't me being cynical. This is freedom! I know that people felt badly for our disappointment. I know that my family and friends wanted nothing more than to see us succeed.
But I realized that I can go out on the ice and have my worst day, or my best day, and at the end I will be exactly the same. I am the same person who loves to cook, write, be with family, take care of kids, and eventually move on from this sport. So, cheers to the freedom of not being perfect! And cheers to Week 37 being a bit better than the last!
Countdown to the Olympics
The first in a regular series of blog entries from Madi chronicling the upcoming Olympic season
May 23, 2017 - by Madison Hubbell
So, here it is. The Olympic season! I am an American Olympic hopeful training in Montréal, Canada. I miss my family and friends. This is one of the many sacrifices I have had to make along this journey. I have been looking for another way to welcome people into my journey, apart from selfies on Instagram or occasional text messages. These things are still great, and they serve a purpose. But to know me is to know that I am not consistent with my communication. I have always loved people and life. But communicating on a phone, by email, or through social media is not natural for me. What I have always loved is writing. I like to write letters to friends, notes and doodles on any scrap of paper, and the occasional story. I prefer handwritten letters, but if I am to reach everyone I care about and everyone who cares about me, the ever-reaching Internet will have to do. This blog will be my weekly letter to myself, my family, and anybody else who wants to know me better. This is me, Madison Hubbell, on a journey of gratitude.
My first blog must begin with a long sigh of relief. Right now, I'm writing this while traveling on the bus between Wenatchee and Seattle with the rest of the Stars On Ice cast. I am so happy to be done! Now, wait a second, because I don’t want you to misunderstand. I loved this experience and have no regrets. I just need a break for my body. Today was our last show, and I managed to make it through without any mishaps or overwhelming embarrassments. And honestly, to my surprise, I am coming out of this with a lot of new friends. I have known the people on this cast for years, and I have always respected them. I have, however, always felt a bit like an outsider. This tour really gave me a chance to get to know everyone better, and it feels like fate that I became more bonded to them as we begin this year together. It is the Olympic season, after all. It is on all of our minds. For me, the end of this tour kind of marked the official countdown to Pyeongchang.
We have roughly 38 weeks until the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Olympic Games. We spoke to several skaters who, in the face of this countdown, chose not to participate in the Stars On Ice tour. And I understand their decision. In the US, we had a short tour with only 7 stops. But the stops were spread out, so we haven't had a day off from skating or airports in three weeks. This is challenging when you need to make crucial decisions about Olympic programs, make choreography, and stay healthy. In our case, I think Zach and I made the right decision to join the Stars On Ice family. I now feel more connected to all of these athletes, with whom I hope to share my Olympic experience. So, as promised, here is my gratitude for everyone in the Stars on Ice family. In case any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me feel welcome!
My goal with this blog will be to give you a window into the weekly ups and downs of this journey. I want to be candid, and fully authentic as to who I am. Which means most likely some of these blogs won't be posted on time! Also, I can't promise you that it will be interesting, funny, insightful, or worth the read. I will try, however, to invite you into my life and my heart as I try to fill my days with gratitude. That’s right, even the crappy ones!
See Madi and Zach in Stars on Ice
May 12, 2017 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach are honored to be part of the 2017 cast of Stars on Ice alongside other top American skaters. They are currently touring the West Coast after having performed in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. You can see Madi and Zach in person at Stars on Ice by purchasing tickets to their upcoming performances here!
Today, in particular, they took some time off to sightsee in the Bay Area ahead of their Stars on Ice tour appearance in San Jose. Here, they are taking a stroll through the Stanford University campus.
In addition to touring with Stars on Ice, Madi and Zach have already begun their training and started developing their programs for the 2017-2018 season. They are extremely encouraged and motivated after demonstrating continued overall improvement this past season. At the recent ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, they finished ninth overall after placing third in the short dance.
Please stay tuned to this web site for additional updates on their training and preparations for the upcoming Olympic season. Madi and Zach thank you for your continued support!
Previous news updates from Madi & Zach
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