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
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"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 Montreal, 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 Montreal, 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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