Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue
Official Website - 2012-2016 U.S. Figure Skating National Team Members 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
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Art by Numbers
An exclusive blog entry from Madi providing insight into this year's short dance
December 8, 2016 - by Madison Hubbell
I had this phrase pop into my head earlier in the season, “Art By Numbers.” Do you know those colouring books? They have a colour chart in the corner, and if you complete the picture correctly, it would end up looking exactly as it should.
I never liked those. I grew up in a creative house, with parents who always valued self expression and variety. I think this is part of why I feel that I belong so well in Montreal with Team MISS (Montreal International Skating School). Here, the coaches have supported me and Zach, and reminded us that there are no limits. There is not one right way to get the job done even when you feel that the rulebook says otherwise. So, at the beginning of this season, we all decided to create a program that was risky, fun, and colouring way outside the lines.
The way we see it, this is the best year to take a risk like our short dance. Next season we will have to make the best and most competitive decisions for the Olympics. But here we are, with a year to experiment, and that seems to be precisely what the ISU wants! They chose hip-hop!
We decided along with our coaching team that if anyone should just go for it, it should be us. We wanted to create an energetic, crowd-pleasing program that would draw in a different demographic than typical ice dance viewers. But frankly, what person above 50 will know a hip-hop song from 2016? So we talked, and experimented, and talked some more, and came to a few conclusions.
Then it came the time to start our season and see how the program was received. We have had awesome moments with this program. Our goal of reaching younger demographics has definitely been met, and we are getting messages from young people praising our music selections and our “dab” (a famous dance move) in the footwork. We also qualified for the Grand Prix Final despite an increasingly difficult and competitive ice dance field.
Despite these accomplishments, we feel that we have not yet maximized our goals for this program. We have scored lower than our goals, and we have had mixed reviews from the panel. One of the goals of this program was to introduce more modern music into ice dance in a way that evolved from something the judges and older generations could understand. We changed a few little things throughout the season, but we wanted to get as much feedback as possible before assessing which direction to take it. We continued to work on the quality of the short after each competition, and we really tried to give it the best shot possible. It seemed, however, that we would have to rethink the program if we wanted to achieve our goals for the season.
We came home from Trophée de France and we had a meeting with Marie-France. We did not want to back away from the goals of this program. After competing in front of several crowds around the world, we realized that there were a few pieces of music that “worked” no matter where we went. There was a sweet spot in the middle of our program highlighting music that was both old and new enough to be known by everyone. We agreed that we should extend some of these songs in order to eliminate several of the lesser-known songs towards the end of the program. We wanted to skate the beginning of the short dance with more flow and speed in order to accentuate the dancing in the second half of the program. Once we had more ice coverage in the first half, we really tried to pull in the whole audience for the ten seconds of allotted time we have for a stationary dance break. Since this program is all about bringing the audience joy, we really wanted to make sure that the whole audience could have a view of our program. We made sure to turn every direction and not just dance for the 9 judges on the panel.
We feel that our newly improved short dance will better accomplish all of our goals. This is our "passion project" of the season, and we will work until the last moment to make it work. But in the end, this program is about having fun. We are ready to go to Marseille this week and dance like crazy with the goal of putting a smile on everyone’s face.
Please tune in and enjoy!
Madi and Zach find continued success after transformational year
They re-qualify for skating’s elite ISU Grand Prix Final
December 6, 2016 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in Marseille, France for the ISU Grand Prix Final, which showcases the world’s elite skaters. They qualified for the GPF for the second straight year after medaling in all of their international events so far this season.
To start, Madi and Zach competed in the ISU Challenger Series, winning the gold medal at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in September and winning silver at Finlandia Trophy in October. Then, in the ISU Grand Prix, Madi and Zach won silver at Skate America in late October and again at Trophée de France in November.
Building on a breakthrough 2015-2016 season
Madi and Zach’s success this season builds on their breakthroughs last season, their first under coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, and Romain Hagenauer in Montréal. Under the “D-H-L” coaching trio, Madi and Zach caught the attention of the skating world, improving all the technical aspects of their skating and rejuvenating their presentation and choreography. Their efforts were rewarded with a sixth-place finish at the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Boston in March.
In particular, Madi and Zach’s performances at Worlds drew lavish praise from television commentators Nicky Slater and Mark Hanretty of Eurosport, and Tracy Wilson and Ben Agosto of NBC. Noting that he “could watch them skate all day,” Slater raved about their “Hallelujah” short dance, saying that “it was an experience to behold, so deep was the relationship they had between themselves and with the music.” Slater continued, observing that their performance was “something special. You could feel it in the air. So much to admire in that: the deftness of touch, the changes of direction, the quality.”
After their “Adagio for Tron” free dance, Slater offered, “I don't know about you, but it touches my soul, the underlying emotional depth that this couple brings to their skating. Something very very special. I love the quality of their technical content - well done!” Hanretty was also effusive after both performances, saying that “it's nice when good things happen to good people” and nothing that “if they continue to keep offering performances like that, there's no doubt that at some point their time will come.” Similarly, Agosto remarked, “I'm still under the spell. That was amazing. Such a beautiful program, it weaves together, it doesn't stop, it's fluid, it's graceful, it had everything, it was beautiful.”
Deeply appreciative of support from fans
Madi and Zach are deeply humbled by all the praise they’ve received. After Worlds, they began work on new programs, while continuing to refine their technique and presentation. This season, they’re focused on rewarding fans for their support, while also living up to the high expectations that they have for themselves.
During the summer, Madi and Zach were honored to participate in Mao Asada’s “THE ICE 2016” tour in Japan. They were incredibly touched by the adoring reception and attention they received from Japanese audiences and fans. They were also mesmerized by the beauty of Japanese cities like Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Kitakyushu, and were captivated by the incredible grace and dignity of Japanese culture. In particular, Madi is a huge Totoro fan, and she had a blast seeing him all over Japan! Madi and Zach want to offer a heartfelt どうもありがとうございます to Mao as well as their Japanese hosts and friends. They can’t wait to return to Japan, hopefully soon!
New programs for the 2016-2017 season
This season, ISU short dance guidelines call for a blues rhythm, plus either or both of swing and hip hop. In their short dance, Madi and Zach explore the “evolution of dance,” starting with a sultry, bluesy Nina Simone rendition of “Feeling Good” woven seamlessly into the required midnight blues pattern. Then, they transition to a crowd-pleasing hip hop review. For the ISU Grand Prix Final, Madi and Zach will streamline this section of the dance to focus on MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”
For their free dance, Madi and Zach are skating to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Bootstrap, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Ingrid Michaelson, and “Earned It” by Bootstrap. In forming this medley of love songs, Madi and Zach turned to music that they personally believe in and enjoy. They hope that this personal connection shines through in their skating, where they are portraying a dialogue between two lovers on the ice.
Earlier in the season, Madi and Zach were pleased to have the opportunity to talk to Dave Lease of The Skating Lesson about their new programs and their goals for this year. Here are both of their interviews:
Above all, Madi and Zach wish to thank you – their fans – for your continued support, which inspires them to strive every day for bigger accomplishments. If you’d like to play a direct role in their success this season, they invite you to visit their GoFundMe page.
- The US has become the world power in ice dance (Associated Press via the Washington Post)
- Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue Strike Grand Prix Silver in France (Team USA)
- Hubbell, Donohue aim for second gold of season (IceNetwork)
- Hubbell, Donohue defend title with story of love (IceNetwork)
- Hubbell, Donohue hip hop their way to first place (IceNetwork)
- Hubbell, Donohue a delight on ice (Lake Placid News)
- 'D-H-L' coaching trio deliver ice dance excellence (IceNetwork)
- 10 Best Ice Dance Performances of the 2015-16 Figure Skating Season (Sportsblog)
- Batter up! Hubbell, Donohue tour Fenway Park (IceNetwork)
- Hubbell & Donohue Interview (FD) - 2016 World Championships (IceNetwork)
Previous news updates from Madi & Zach
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