Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue
Official Website - 2018 and 2019 U.S. National Ice Dance Champions
2018 World Ice Dance Silver Medalists and 2018 Olympic Team Members
2018 Grand Prix Final Champions, 2014 Four Continents Champions, and 2012-2017 U.S. Ice Dance Medalists
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Finishing the season with flair
Madi and Zach win the silver medal at the 2018 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, capping a breakthrough season highlighted by their first U.S. national championship and a strong Olympic debut
March 24, 2018 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi and Zach on winning the silver medal at the 2018 ISU World Figure Skating Championships! They executed brilliantly in both the short dance and free dance, earning Level 4s and positive grades of execution on all possible elements for the first time in international competition.
Above, they are shown alongside their close friends and training mates Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, who won the gold medal, as well as their team of coaches from the École de Patinage Montréal International / Montréal International Skating School. Below is video of their free dance, set to Beth Hart's "Caught Out in the Rain."
Madi and Zach's triumph in Milan comes just a month after a strong fourth-place showing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. There, they commanded the world's attention for their strong edges and technique and for their sizzling chemistry.
They came away from the Olympics with added determination and drive, not only to show what they were capable of at Worlds in Milan, but also to continue competing on behalf of the United States.
Here, Madi and Zach spoke with Jack Doles of WAVY-TV in Hampton Roads, VA.
Over the next few weeks, Madi and Zach will be touring the United States for the second consecutive year as members of Stars on Ice. Catch them at a show near you!
Even if you can't meet them in person, Madi and Zach want you - their fans, friends, and family - to know how infinitely grateful they are for all the support and encouragement they've received this season and throughout their careers. In particular, they would like to thank everyone who has helped with their crowdfunding efforts this past season, whether assisting with training expenses or enabling Madi's brother Keiffer and father Brad to cheer them on and support them at the Olympics. Madi, Zach, and their families would also like to thank U.S. Figure Skating, their Destination Pyeongchang campaign that assisted with Madi and Zach's families' travel to the Olympics, and the U.S. Olympic Committee for their support this season.
- Hubbell And Donohue Finally Earn First World Championship Medal (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- French ice dancers win third world title; first medal for U.S. champs (NBC Sports)
- Hubbell and Donohue take silver at World Championships (Detroit News)
- Madison Hubbell And Zachary Donohue In Position For Long-Awaited World Championship Medal After Short Dance (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Hubbell makes northwest Ohio proud with Olympics performance (Toledo Blade)
- Hubbell and Donohue finish fourth (Toledo Blade)
- Zachary Donohue, Of Madison, And Madison Hubbell Finish Fourth (Hartford Courant)
- Connecticut Olympians Take To Social Media To Document Experience (Hartford Courant)
- Are Hubbell and Donohue a Couple Off the Ice? Their On-Ice Chemistry Begs the Question! (Earn the Necklace)
Their time to shine
Madi and Zach perfectly positioned to earn an Olympic medal for the United States after their stellar short dance
February 19, 2018 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi and Zach on placing third in the short dance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games! Above, they are shown in high spirits immediately after the short dance.
They will compete for a spot on the Olympic podium in the free dance, which will be aired live in the United States tonight, Monday, February 19th, at 8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific on NBC. Set to Beth Hart's "Caught Out in the Rain," their free dance will showcase their world-class edging, power, ice coverage, and choreography, while laying bare their raw, honest, and transparent interpersonal chemistry.
Madi and Zach remain immensely grateful for the support they've received from audiences all over the world and the attention they've received from media outlets. Check out some of their coverage below.
- Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue on their Olympic debut (NBC Olympics)
- Madison Hubbell's family stops by after strong performance (NBC Olympics)
- American ice dancers will battle each other for bronze at 2018 Winter Olympics (USA Today)
- Olympic ice dancer Madison Hubbell's other talent is making Christmas stockings with her mom (USA Today)
- Hubbell, Donohue in third after short dance program at Winter Olympics (Toledo Blade)
- Can Madison Hubbell make local Olympics history? (Toledo Blade)
- Madison Native Zach Donohue And Ice Dancing Partner Madison Hubbell Hoping For Olympic Medal (Hartford Courant)
- US shows power in Olympic short dance with 3rd, 4th and 7th (Associated Press / St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
- Madison Hubbell And Zachary Donohue In Third After Olympic Short Dance Debut (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Olympic ice dancing is more than pairs figure skating without jumps (Denver Post)
- Olympics 2018: Ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue share their Must List (Entertainment Weekly)
- Love or a Gold Medal? Two Olympic Ice Skaters Break Up to Win (Study Breaks)
- Winter Olympics: Razor-thin margin separates Michigan ice-dance teams (Detroit Free Press)
- Madi and Zach's GoFundMe page to assist with training expenses
Madi and Zach arrive at the Olympics in Korea ready to seize the spotlight
February 18, 2018 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and are eager to make their mark in the short dance, which will be aired live in the United States today, Sunday, February 18th, at 8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific on NBC. Their short dance will feature the samba and rhumba rhythms and will showcase their world-class edging, ice coverage, power, and, of course, smoldering chemistry.
Since arriving in Korea, Madi and Zach have been busy on and off the ice. They were thrilled to participate in the opening ceremonies, are rooming in the Gangneung Coastal Cluster with U.S. teammates Mirai Nagasu, Adam Rippon, and Vincent Zhou, and have continued to train in the last week. They have also been grateful for multiple opportunities to tell the story of their partnership and their skating to a variety of media outlets. For example, Madi and Zach were featured this week on NBC Sports Network's "Olympic Ice." Before they left for Korea, they were also featured in a Sports Illustrated photo shoot and were also interviewed for a New York Times interactive feature.
Madi's mom Sue and brother Keiffer were also pleased to spend time with Jamie Innis of WNWO-TV in Toledo. They talked about Madison's roots, and Sue also gave an inside look into her studio, where she makes Madi and Zach's costumes.
Prior to leaving for Korea, Madi and Zach also participated in a conference call with IceNetwork.
Madi and Zach are also great friends with the rest of the skaters on Team USA, as well as skaters from around the world who train with or near them in Montréal. Here, you can enjoy Zach and Canada's Eric Radford as they jam together.
As always, Madi and Zach want to thank you - their family, friends, and fans - for your continued support. In particular, they would like to send heartfelt thanks to all who have participated in their GoFundMe and Etsy efforts. They will take the ice tonight at the Olympics knowing that they couldn't have made it to the world spotlight without your help.
- With A Lifetime Of Memories Together, Team USA’s 3 Strong Ice Dance Teams Ready To Take On PyeongChang (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Five Michigan ice dancers grew up together, now competing for medals (Detroit Free Press)
- Team USA ice dancers with Michigan ties hit rink for 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang (WDIV-TV / Click on Detroit)
- American ice dancer still relies on mom to make her costumes (Washington Post)
- Mom helps Olympic ice dancer look like a star on the ice (WNWO-TV)
- From Toledo to PyeongChang: an Olympic ice dancer's journey (WNWO-TV)
- Zachary Donohue's Girlfriend Is Also An Ice Dancer So Get Ready To Be Obsessed (Bustle)
- Hubbell, Donohue turning epic fail into epic rise entering Winter Olympics (Detroit Free Press)
- Hubbell, Donohue's partnership would make a great rom-com (NBC Olympics)
- This Olympian's Dog Just Won Gold For Being The Goodest (BuzzFeed)
- Adam Rippon Is Madison Hubbell's One True Valentine and This Dance Is Proof (Time)
- Yale employee ‘Dee’ Eggert cheering on her son, the Olympian (Yale News)
- What Makes Ice Dancing Different? (Deadspin)
- The Sound of No Music (Associated Press)
- Ice Dancers Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue Weren't Always the Perfect Team: 'We Hated Each Other' (People Magazine)
- Ice Dancers Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue Reveal 'We Hated Each Other' (People TV)
- It’s been quite a journey for proud Olympic mom (Norwich Bulletin)
- New dance champions Hubbell, Donohue feel strong ahead of Olympic debut (NBC Olympics)
- On biggest stage, Hubbell ready for her moment (Toledo Blade)
- How A Home Olympics In Salt Lake City Inspired A Generation Of Team USA Athletes Competing At The 2018 Games (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Meet Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, Olympic ice dancers (WDIV-TV / Click on Detroit)
- Sports Illustrated photo shoot
- Entrevista a Madison Hubbell y Zachary Donohue (Patinaje Pink Power)
- Former Madison athletes head to Winter Olympics 2018 (ShoreLine Times)
- Training partners or rivals: figure skating's unique dynamic (Associated Press / USA Today)
- Connecticut's Zach Donohue, Partner Madison Hubbell Look for Ice Dance Medal in Pyeongchang (NBC New York)
- U.S. ice dance champs Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue set sights on 2018 Olympics (NBC Olympics)
- Madi and Zach's GoFundMe page to assist with training expenses
At last, lifelong dreams realized
Madi and Zach win the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships and earn a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team
January 15, 2018 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi and Zach on winning the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San José, California! In addition to becoming the new U.S. national ice dance champions, they were named to the U.S. Olympic figure skating team for next month's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Korea. Above, they are shown after the medal ceremony with moms Susan Hubbell (right) and Diane Eggert (left).
Madi and Zach opened Nationals with a strong performance in the short dance. Skating to rhumba and samba rhythms, they earned 79.10 points.
Set to Beth Hart’s “Caught Out in the Rain,” their passionate free dance earned 118.02 points, for an overall event total of 197.12 points, their highest to date.
In particular. Madi and Zach were honored to earn the attention and praise of singer Beth Hart herself.
Also, at the Nationals gala, Madi and Zach unveiled a new exhibition program to "Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice.
Madi and Zach's emotional, bittersweet victory at Nationals marks the highest point to date of their six-year on-ice partnership. In their first season together, they demonstrated their promise as a team with a bronze medal finish at 2012 Nationals, which incidentally were held in the same San José arena as this year's Nationals. During the 2013-2014 season, however, Madi struggled with a debilitating hip injury. At 2014 Nationals, they narrowly missed that year's Olympic team by only a couple of points.
Over the next four years, Madi and Zach worked hard to improve all aspects of their skating and validate their immense potential. After Madi recovered from hip surgery throughout the 2014-2015 season, both Madi and Zach moved to Montréal to train with coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, and Romain Hagenauer at the Centre Gadbois. Since then, they have earned the notice of the skating world with their continuous improvement and progressively stronger results, culminating with their win at this year's Nationals.
Madi and Zach are immensely thankful to their family, friends, and fans for their steadfast support through the ups and downs of the last six years. They look forward to representing the United States of America with honor at next month's Olympics. Keep checking this page, their YouTube channel, their Instagram accounts (Madi / Zach), their Twitter accounts (Madi / Zach), and their Facebook page for the latest updates on their journey to Pyeongchang.
- Advice to Younger Self | Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (U.S. Figure Skating)
- Ice dance team finally breaks through at U.S. Figure Skating Championships (San Jose Mercury News)
- Former Sylvania resident Madison Hubbell, partner pull off ice dancing upset (Toledo Blade / Associated Press)
- Q&A: Former Sylvania resident Madison Hubbell headed to Winter Olympics (Toledo Blade)
- Lansing's Hubbell, Donohue surprise to win U.S. Figure Skating title (Detroit Free Press)
- U.S. Olympic ice dance team dominated by Michigan skaters (MLive)
- Hubbell and Donohue win 2018 national ice dance title, make Olympic team (NBC Olympics)
- No Longer Third, Madison Hubbell And Zachary Donohue Win U.S. Ice Dance Title (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Team USA Fields Its Most Decorated Olympic Ice Dance Team Ever (Team USA / U.S. Olympic Committee)
- Hubbell and Donohue capture U.S. national title (Golden Skate)
- Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue win first U.S. title and named to first Olympic team (Figure Skaters Online)
- Keiffer Hubbell's GoFundMe page to assist with travel expenses to the Olympics so he can cheer his sister Madi on
- 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)
Ready to rock and roll
Madi and Zach enter Nationals emboldened after a strong finish at the Grand Prix Final
January 4, 2018 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in San José, California for the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. "Nationals," as the event is often called, is the highlight of the figure skating calendar in the U.S. and serves as the qualifying event for the U.S. Figure Skating world team each year. This year, Nationals takes on added importance because it doubles as the qualifying event for the U.S. figure skating team at next month's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Korea.
Madi and Zach have a special place in their hearts for San José as it was where they broke through at Nationals in 2012, in their first year as a team. They enjoyed performing at the SAP Center for Stars on Ice last May and also enjoyed exploring the beautiful surroundings of the Bay Area. Above, they are shown strolling the Stanford University campus in nearby Palo Alto.
Madi and Zach are confident and well-trained entering Nationals after a strong fourth-place finish at the 2017-18 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. They earned 72.81 points for their rhumba and samba interpretation in the short dance.
Their free dance, set to Beth Hart’s “Caught Out in the Rain,” earned 112.59 points, for an overall event total of 187.40 points.
Madi and Zach are delighted by the continued overwhelming support they've received from you, their fans, this season and throughout their career. If you're near San José or can travel there, you can buy tickets here to cheer them on in person as they aim for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. In the United States, you can watch their short dance live on NBC Sports Network on Friday, January 5th from 4:00pm to 6:30pm (Eastern). Their free dance will be shown live on NBC on Sunday, January 7th from 3:00pm to 6:00pm (Eastern).
Madi and Zach have also established a YouTube channel where they give inside access to a typical day of training at their Montréal base. Check out the six-part series here. You can also learn more about them as a team here and revisit their performances from the current season here.
- Let Zach serenade you with a Michael Bublé cover (YouTube)
- How Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue knew it was time to move to Montreal (NBC Olympics)
- A Day in the Life of Madison Hubbell (NBC Olympics)
- 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)
Madi and Zach qualify for the Grand Prix Final for the third consecutive year
Excited to return to Japan after a silver medal at NHK Trophy
December 6, 2017 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in Nagoya, Japan for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, an elite event that concludes the 2017-18 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, which is a six-event circuit of international competitions held each fall.
Their third consecutive Grand Prix Final appearance comes after winning the silver medal at NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan. In their short dance, set to the samba and rhumba rhythms, they earned a season’s best 76.31 points.
In their free dance, set to Beth Hart’s “Caught Out in the Rain,” they earned 112.04 points, for an overall event total of 188.35 points. This strong finish combined with their bronze medal at the 2017 Skate Canada International to earn them a spot in the Grand Prix Final.
Madi and Zach have also continued to impress audiences with their exhibition to Imagine Dragons’ “Believer.”
Additionally, Madi and Zach have released the final two installments in a six-part YouTube series chronicling a day in their lives as full-time athletes. Part 5 shows them working on their free dance and on their technical levels during their afternoon ice session. They also discuss how, with the help of U.S. Figure Skating and the U.S. Olympic Committee, they use data to train smart and stay healthy.
Part 6 shows them - and Spanish skaters Olivia Smart and Adrià Díaz - shopping for groceries and making dinner in their free time after training. Madi and Zach discuss their diets and nutrition regimens, and how they strike a balance between rest and recreation during their time off.
If you’d like to play a direct role in Madi and Zach’s success while also celebrating the holiday season, you can purchase an heirloom stocking from Madi and her mom Sue Hubbell. As Madi explains in her September 26 blog entry below, she and her mom Sue are offering these stockings as a fun way to share a Hubbell family holiday tradition and to raise funds for training along the side. These stockings are customized and hand-made by Sue herself using quality, one-of-a-kind materials.
Additionally, you can visit Madi and Zach’s GoFundMe page. No matter how you support Madi and Zach – whether through the above means, through social media, or simply in your thoughts and wishes – they greatly appreciate the continued inspiration and encouragement that they’re receiving from you, their fans, this important Olympic season!
- Q&A with Madison Hubbell (NBC Olympics)
- Support all U.S. Olympic figure skating team members via Destination Pyeongchang (U.S. Figure Skating)
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!
“If we skate in the moment, that’s where the magic comes”
Third-place showing in short dance validates Madi and Zach's hard work behind the scenes
March 31, 2017 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi and Zach on a third-place showing in the short dance at the 2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships!
In earning an international personal-best score of 76.53 points, Madi and Zach showcased their masterful edging, commanding ice coverage, and authentic interpretation. They achieved Level 4s on all but one of their elements, including a technical score for their twizzle sequence that was the highest in the entire field.
At an ISU press conference, Madi remarked, "We've worked for this exact moment. We've put a lot time into our preparation, mentally as well as physically."
"In the last month since Four Continents, Zachary and I have really worked with our coaches on changing our mentality around our skating in general, but especially with this short dance. We're always trying to do more or be more, and we had to step back and realize that we were enough, and we just had to be us, and really hone this dance."
"I feel like we owe it to each other just much as we owe it to Marie-France [Dubreuil] in particular. She really helped us and pushed us to not give up on it. There were definitely some tough moments in the season where we felt like maybe we just needed to go with the current, the way things were going. She's been there every day, encouraging us to embrace what we originally believed, the ideas we have, and our own creative vision. It is definitely a gratifying way to end the season and I know they're enjoying this moment with us as well."
They are joined at the top of the standings by their great friends and training mates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France. They all train at the Centre Gadbois in Montréal under coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, and Romain Hagenauer.
Madi and Zach will finish the competition with their free dance tomorrow, Saturday, April 1st. They look forward to taking all your best hopes and wishes to heart in delivering another rewarding performance for you, their fans. Also, many thanks to the commentators at British Eurosport for your high praise and insightful, constructive feedback! For more information on Madi and Zach's preparations leading up to Worlds, please see the three-part update below.
Madi and Zach enter Worlds with redoubled confidence and fitness
March 28, 2017 - Webmaster Update - First in a series of three updates
Madi and Zach have arrived in Helsinki, Finland for the 2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. They will represent the United States of America in the ice dance competition which begins on Friday, March 31st.
They qualified for Worlds in January at the 2017 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Kansas City where they finished a strong third, scoring a career-best 191.42 points. The following month, they achieved a career-best international score of 180.82 points in placing fourth at the 2017 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, South Korea, which were held in the same arena that will host next year’s Olympic figure skating competition.
In a recent media conference call and IceNetwork podcast, Madi and Zach revealed that, leading up to Four Continents, they felt that they had achieved personal breakthroughs in their training. While they admit that they “tried to go for it a bit too much” during the event, they were nevertheless so encouraged by their momentum that they didn’t take any time off afterwards, instead capitalizing on their improved energy and confidence and continuing to train at this newfound high level. After Four Continents, Madi and Zach tweaked a few details in their programs. They now feel that both their programs are the complete “final package.”
Moreover, alongside their coaches and ice dance training mates from Montréal, they participated in a pre-Worlds training camp in Kingston, Ontario with Toronto-based coaches, choreographers, and skaters, including Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson, David Wilson, Javier Fernandez, Javier Raya, Gabrielle Daleman, Lubov Ilyushechkina, and Dylan Moscovitch. Not only did Madi and Zach benefit from receiving feedback from different coaches with different perspectives, they also benefited from their work alongside singles and pair skaters, who collectively reminded and inspired each other about their reasons and motivations for working and training so intensively at the uppermost echelons of figure skating.
Madi and Zach enter Worlds feeling extremely well-prepared physically, and having made significant strides in the mental aspects of their skating. In particular, they look forward to skating with full emotional vulnerability while at the same time executing all the elements at the highest levels. They feel that “if we skate in the moment, that’s where the magic comes.”
Furthermore, Madi and Zach believe that they are capable of exceptional results at Worlds. They feel that they are able to compete at the highest level of skating, and that they belong in any conversation about the top teams in the world. Rather than limiting themselves into any preconceived place in the pecking order, they feel that the best way to approach the competition is to see no barriers or walls around them, instead identifying and seizing every opportunity for success.
Already, their scores and performances this season reflect the tremendous ongoing progress they’re making in Montréal with coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, and Romain Hagenauer. With strong performances at these World Championships, Madi and Zach look forward to showing their fans and supporters the full results and benefits of their work.
More background on Madi and Zach’s short and free dances this season
March 29, 2017 – Webmaster Update – Second in a series of three updates
This season, Madi and Zach’s short dance creatively combines the ISU’s required rhythms of blues and hip hop. It’s the product of Madi’s desire to skate to a classic blues selection, Zach’s love of hip hop, and coach Marie-France Dubreuil’s alignment of their interests. Madi helped put together the music by gathering chart-topping hits from different decades. Together with their coaches, Madi and Zach ultimately settled on Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” for the blues, while for the hip hop, they chose MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”
While Madi, Zach, and their coaches “knew from the start that it would be hit or miss,” and that many wouldn't like their music choices at first, their coaches agreed that if there was a year to experiment with different styles and music, then this was the year to do so. In particular, Madi and Zach felt that with the required hip hop rhythm, "the ISU is asking for this." Even though hip hop generally lends itself to sharp movements, which are at odds with the long gliding movements typically seen in figure skating, Madi and Zach decided to have fun with the concept and involve the audience, all while including a nod to a more classic era with their blues selection.
Madi and Zach have always had backup music prepared that they knew would be "safe," and after each event, they had to make a decision about whether to scrap their short dance or to keep and evolve it. They didn't back away from the challenge and are proud of soldiering on with their program. They feel all the more vindicated knowing that the program is growing even on those who didn’t like it at first.
Meanwhile, Madi and Zach’s free dance this season seeks to capture their “individual spirits.” In weaving together Bootstrap’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” Ingrid Michaelson’s “Can't Help Falling in Love,” and Bootstrap’s “Earned It,” they alternate male and female voices, and have crafted a truly personal and emotional program that not only reflects the singers’ points of view, but also relates to Madi and Zach’s own deeply-felt experiences. The result is a “euphoric moment” where “everything comes together” and Madi and Zach can’t help flooding the entire arena with their emotions and their physicality.
After Four Continents, Madi and Zach worked with Samuel Chouinard, who choreographed their short dance, to create more contrast between the first three minutes of the program and the final, ending music selection of the program. The goal was to avoid a one-level feeling for the entire four minutes, and to add more linear movements into the final minute of the program so as to create a markedly different impression that is more “impactful” and “proud.” Madi and Zach have greatly enjoyed working with Sam, who leverages his dance background to ensure that their overall body movement relates well with the music and captures all its nuances, in particular highlighting specific musical cues and suggesting particular shapes to go along with the music.
An inspired training environment in Montréal is key to Madi and Zach’s success
March 30, 2017 – Webmaster Update – Third in a series of three updates
Madi and Zach’s strong results this season and last reflect the tremendous progress they continue to make at their training base in Montréal under the guidance of coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, and Romain Hagenauer. At the Centre Gadbois, Madi and Zach train alongside top ice dance teams such as Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.
In total, Madi and Zach are part of a training camp that includes seven world-class ice dance teams. While the ice at the Centre Gadbois isn’t big enough for all seven teams at once, there are always multiple teams doing run-throughs or cross-training together at any given time. Madi and Zach never feel “crowded,” and they alternate training sessions with different teams, all of whom are “very friendly and motivating.” Madi is particularly close friends with Gabriella, and they actually miss each other when they’re not training on the same ice at the same time. All the teams make an effort to watch and encourage each other, clapping for each others’ run-throughs and giving each other positive, constructive feedback, especially on difficult days.
Moreover, Madi and Zach’s coaches make sure never to compare them to anyone else. They do their best to make each of their teams the absolute best they can be. In particular, their coaches have pushed them to avoid boxing themselves into a certain placement in the U.S. or globally, and to instead believe that “anything’s possible” – including a Worlds podium finish – at a time when the gaps among the top ice dance teams in the world are narrowing. With respect to the increasing depth of the ice dance field both in the U.S. and around the world, Madi and Zach believe that, under the new scoring system, if "people see the opportunity that if they work, they'll get rewarded for it." Every team has the incentive to be as competitive as possible.
Among their coaches, Zach looks up to Patrice as a “huge coach and mentor” who has changed his view of what his role in the partnership is. Meanwhile, Marie-France provides a very reassuring presence, encouraging Madi and Zach to enjoy and be present in each moment of every run-through, and to personalize each moment of the performance so that they’re not just thinking about the elements and the points. Moreover, Madi and Zach feel that “Marie-France has a way of choosing the correct programs.” She puts a lot of work into “creating connections with the music” and is always “looking for that magic moment” by paying attention to what generates reactions in both the skaters and the audience. Because they have developed a truly organic connection to their programs, Madi and Zach are able to enjoy them more “so that it's not just a competition.”
Step sequences are some of the technical elements that Madi and Zach have improved upon in Montréal. In competitions, they feel that the technical panel usually looks for easy glides into edges without the application of too much weight. Madi and Zach have learned to “be calm” and to trust that they have the “right talent and capability to execute the elements.” Only when they doubt their capabilities does their skating become “forced” and “snowy.” To improve on all their elements, Madi and Zach have also sought the feedback of judges and callers through monitoring sessions.
Leading up to Worlds, Madi and Zach ramped up to a period of “peak training” where they not only ran through each of their programs every day of the week, but also followed each program run-through with an immediate repeat of the final two-thirds of the program. Combined with lots of cardio cross-training, these rigorous workouts encourage Madi and Zach to be “calm and precise,” and to avoid giving into mental struggles like “the devil on the shoulder telling us to race to the end.”
The results that Madi and Zach have achieved in Montréal build on the “magic” and chemistry that they have always felt since the start of their partnership. Madi and Zach feel that they are both strong people who often take turns in leading in the partnership. This intensity, coupled with their ongoing growth as individuals and as a team, has evolved into something that’s “super special” whenever they take the ice – something that will be in full display as they take the ice tomorrow for their fourth appearance at Worlds.
Commanding the attention of the skating world
Madi and Zach’s hard work leading to significantly improved scores and results
January 21, 2017 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in Kansas City in top shape for the 2017 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships. In the short dance on Friday, January 20th, they brought the Sprint Center audience to their feet with a sizzling blues pattern and a crowd-pleasing hip-hop medley. Technically, they achieved Level 4 on all their elements, and they showcased their signature deep edges; commanding speed, power, and extension; and exceptionally difficult, close holds.
Madi and Zach’s efforts were rewarded with a personal-best score of 79.72, which places them third, only 2.70 points off the lead. They look forward to improving upon their short dance with an even stronger free dance. If you can’t see them live in Kansas City, please be with them in spirit by tuning in to NBC today, Saturday, January 21st, for a live national broadcast from 4-6pm Eastern Time. Regardless of where you are, please double check your local TV listings.
Career-best result at ISU Grand Prix Final
Madi and Zach come into Nationals on the heels of a career-best result at last month’s ISU Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, where they earned 179.59 points in placing fifth overall. Both their programs, in particular their free dance, drew lavish praise from commentators at NBC and British Eurosport.
Madi and Zach have improved significantly at each of their outings this season. With a strong finish at Nationals, they hope to qualify for future international events; in turn, they hope to demonstrate continued progress and reward their fans, their direct supporters, and U.S. Figure Skating for their continued support.
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 Montréal with Team MISS (Montréal 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)
Madi and Zach place fourth at 2016 Four Continents; win bronze at U.S. Nationals
February 23, 2016 - Webmaster Update
Congrats to Madi and Zach on two stellar performances at the 2016 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships! In attaining career-best international scores of 69.36 in the short dance and 102.93 in the free dance, Madi and Zach placed third in each phase of the competition, with their total score of 172.29 placing fourth for the entire event.
Madi and Zach's presence at Four Continents is a result of their strong third-place finish at U.S. Nationals, where they achieved career-best national scores of 71.10 in the short dance and 107.71 in the free dance. At Nationals, they also qualified for the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, to be held from March 29th to April 3rd in Boston.
With each competition, Madi and Zach are showing continued improvement under coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Hagenauer, and Pascal Denis. Madi and Zach feel incredibly well-trained and in-shape, and look forward to improving their results at Worlds.
Separately, Madi and Zach have launched a GoFundMe campaign. They are seeking to raise funds to support their ongoing training and development, in particular working with additional ballroom, theater, and hip hop coaches. They would like to thank all their fans and followers for their continued support!
- Okemos native, ice dancer returns to world stage (Lansing State Journal)
Madi and Zach compete at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships
January 23, 2016 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach are in St. Paul, MN to compete at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Yesterday, they scored 71.10 points for their strong, confident short dance - their highest score so far this season. They are only four points off the lead. Shown here with coach Patrice Lauzon afterwards, Madi and Zach are very happy with their performance and are even more excited to know that they will the final skaters in the ice dance competition. Watch them live, today, on NBC's national broadcast from 3-6pm Eastern.
Madi and Zach are in strong spirits and in top shape after earning valuable competitive experience last month at the ISU Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating in Barcelona, Spain. Madi and Zach were part of a U.S. team that qualified for three spots at this elite event for the first time. In Barcelona, they placed sixth, scoring 66.21 points in the short dance and 96.99 points in the free dance.
Madi and Zach continue to be grateful for the tremendous support they've received from fans all around the world. Here at Nationals, one fan traveled all the way from Japan, having printed up a banner and custom buttons to share. どうもありがとうございます!
Madi and Zach reach skating's top tier in qualifying for ISU Grand Prix Final
Breakthrough follows a first-place finish at Trophée Eric Bompard and third at NHK Trophy
December 8, 2015 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi and Zach on qualifying for their first ISU Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating! At NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan, Madi and Zach won the bronze medal by earning personal-best international scores of 66.57 for their short dance and 100.92 for their free dance. In the short dance, they earned Level 4s for both their patterns, while in the free dance, they earned Level 4s for their twizzles and on three of their lifts.
These results reflect the significant improvements they have made under new coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, and Romain Hagenauer. Indeed, British Eurosport commentator Nicky Slater noted how he "absolutely adored... the softness and the flow across the ice."
As part of NHK Trophy, Madi and Zach made their first visit to Japan, and found the entire experience extremely positive and welcoming. For example, the event took place during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. The event organizing committee in Nagano took extra care in arranging for a special dinner for Team USA that included Japanese chickens decorated to look like turkeys!
Moreover, Madi and Zach were truly touched by the gracious hospitality they encountered everywhere they went, whether shopping in Nagano or in meeting new Japanese fans. In particular, Madi and Zach would like to extend a heartfelt どうもありがとうございます - domo arigatou gozaimasu - for the touching messages and gifts they received during their stay. Madi and Zach can't wait to visit Japan again, and in the meantime, they will take all these good wishes and messages to heart as they continue training for the Grand Prix Final and the U.S. Championships.
Madi and Zach's results at NHK Trophy came on the heels of a strong showing at Trophee Eric Bompard in Bordeaux, France. There, they won the short dance, skating emotionally to a k.d. lang rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." With a score of 64.45, they earned Level 4s for their first pattern, twizzles, and lift. Nicky Slater also reacted, "Hallelujah indeed! That was, just for me, glorious... So much soul... I'm a fan." Although the event was cancelled after the short dance due to the tragic events that occured in Paris that evening, the International Skating Union has ruled that Madi and Zach's placement in the short dance will count as a first-place finish for the event as a whole.
Madi and Zach were immensely saddened and horrified to see the events in Paris unfold on television while they were in France. They would like to extend their deepest sympathies to those affected in Paris and to the people of France. They would also like to thank both the local event committee, the Fédération Française des Sports de Glace, and U.S. Figure Skating for their collective efforts in concluding the event and in ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone at the event.
By virtue of their finishes at NHK Trophy and Trophée Eric Bompard, Madi and Zach have qualified for the ISU Grand Prix Final. The ice dance portion of this elite event usually features the six teams that have accumulated the most points over the course of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, a series of six events that includes NHK Trophy and Trophée Eric Bompard. Madi and Zach look forward to this extra opportunity to showcase continued improvements in their programs and their overall skating in front of an international judging panel and audience. They are excited to know that their hard work this season is generating favorable attention from many parties - most importantly, their fans.
- Reinvigorated Hubbell, Donohue Compete At First Grand Prix Final (U.S. Olympic Team)
- Madi's meditations: Hubbell blogs from NHK Trophy (IceNetwork)
- Hubbell: 'You don't create magic by playing it safe' (IceNetwork)
Seizing the spotlight
Madi and Zach win the short dance at Trophée Eric Bompard
November 13, 2015 - Webmaster Update
Skating beautifully to k.d. lang's rendition of "Hallelujah," Madi and Zach won the short dance at Trophée Eric Bompard today with a score of 64.45 points. Tune in to IceNetwork tomorrow, Saturday, November 14th for the free dance.
Madi and Zach ready to rock the 2015-2016 ISU Grand Prix series after starting season with gold at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic
November 12, 2015 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in Bordeaux, France, where they will compete this week at Trophée Eric Bompard. This event marks their debut in the 2015-16 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, where Madi and Zach are eager to display continued quantum improvements in their skating since making a strong impression in September at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In Salt Lake City, Madi and Zach won the gold medal, earning 61.08 points for their short dance to "Hallelujah" by k.d. lang, and 92.54 points for their free dance to the "Adagio for Tron" from the "Tron" movie soundtrack. Despite slight bobbles in both their programs, Madi and Zach showed off significant improvements to their skating in just six months of training with new coaches Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.
For example, observers noticed how Madi and Zach have improved their already-strong speed, edging, and ice coverage. Moreover, Madi and Zach gained rave reviews for how they skate with unparalleled closeness in their hand holds and relative to each other.
Since their September event, Madi and Zach have continued to incorporate feedback and improve themselves in all these areas, plus others like lines, extension, posture, and transitions. Also, instead of merely completing all their program elements cleanly, they hope to do so with high grades of execution. Madi and Zach have also benefited from being able to train at maximum intensity since the spring, as their training and results in the previous two seasons were severely compromised by injury.
At Trophée Eric Bompard, Madi and Zach look forward to debuting new costumes for their free dance. Madi's mother, Susan Hubbell, continues to design and create their costumes, communicating constantly with Madi, Zach, and their coaches in Montréal. Madi and Zach will also be "taking over" U.S. Figure Skating's Instagram account for the duration of the competition.
In particular, Madi and Zach are excited to grace the cover of SKATING Magazine for the first time in the November 2015 issue. In an extensive interview with Troy Schwindt, Madi and Zach talked candidly about their challenges in the previous two seasons and their rationale in looking to refresh their skating and their perspective by relocating their training base to Montréal. Madi and Zach also discussed, with refreshing maturity, how they have maintained a strong, productive, and mutually supportive relationship both on and off the ice.
Click to launch the full edition in a new window.
Madi and Zach are immensely grateful that their efforts are being rewarded with such positive attention, and hope to return the favor with significantly improved results this season. Madi and Zach also wish to thank their fans for their continued well wishes and support.
- Dance teams head to Montreal in hopes of rebirth (IceNetwork)
- Montreal life suits Hubbell, Donohue (IceNetwork)
A new season, a new home, a new spark
Madi and Zach answer their fans' questions and provide the latest updates on their move to Montréal and their plans for the upcoming season
July 24, 2015 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach are busy training for the 2015-2016 season after moving to Montréal in April to work with coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Hagenauer, and Pascal Denis at the Centre Gadbois. There, they will train alongside other elite ice dance teams, including newly crowned world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, Sara Hurtado and Adrià Díaz of Spain, and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam of Canada. Madi and Zach will continue to represent the United States in competition.
Madi and Zach announced the move after placing 10th at the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai. While their finish was respectable, given that they had trained at full intensity for only six weeks prior to the event due to Madi's recovery from hip surgery, Madi and Zach felt that the timing was right for a change of scenery. Madi and Zach saw that Marie-France and Patrice were bringing some fresh new perspectives into ice dance, while Marie-France and Patrice also saw Madi and Zach's potential for both power and long lines.
Indeed, Madi and Zach are eager to show off their new look, particuarly their lines and lifts, at the Québec Summer Championships in Pierrefonds on August 8th and 9th. Because their training and results were severely curtailed by injury and surgery the last two seasons, they have worked hard throughout the spring and summer to be fully prepared for the upcoming season. In particular, Madi is pleased to report that she is fully healthy once again after recovering from surgery.
Madi and Zach would like to extend their sincere, heartfelt thanks to Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova, their former coaches at the Detroit Skating Club. Pasquale and Anjelika were instrumental in bringing Madi and Zach together in the first place, and have overseen their success and development as a fairly new team on the skating scene. Madi would also like to thank the medical and physical therapy staff at the Detroit Skating Club for their tireless work throughout her recovery.
Madi and Zach are also immensely grateful for their fans' unwavering support. Recently, Madi and Zach took the time to answer questions that their Facebook fans asked of them. They are pleased to provide their fans with the following updates.
1. Talk a bit about adjusting to your new training environment. What are some new approaches to training that you have experienced in Montréal? Have you changed anything about your training routine - for example, more or less run-throughs? Also, have your coaches suggested any changes to you that have surprised you?
2. Do each of your coaches specialize in certain aspects of skating? Have you found yourselves working more with one or more of the coaches on the Montréal team?
We were concerned, like with any change, that it would take us a while to get settled here in Montréal. The new coaching team has done a wonderful job preparing us already, and we feel more ready for the season than we ever have in July. The group of athletes here in Montréal are very encouraging and supportive of each other, and we even do our off ice classes as a group. The atmosphere here is very conducive to progress, and that is what we are feeling right now - progress.
Marie-France and Patrice share the creative card, but in slightly different ways. Marie-France has created the bulk of both our short dance and free dance. She really creates something real, a piece that is alive and constantly evolving. Patrice assists Marie with lifts, elements, and footwork. He is a technical genius, and therefore he has his hands on everything from stroking class to programs. He is also very organized, and creates our training and run-through schedules, which changes every day. Romain is very good with aesthetics and polishing. He is also teaching us about technique, especially for long lines and flow across the ice.
Our coaching staff is huge, and expands beyond the ice. We are lucky enough to do ballet, workout, ballroom, and theatre class every week. The workout is intense, and sometimes it's outside since it's summertime, but it's very fun to do with the whole group of skaters. Theatre is also something new for us, and so interesting. We feel so invested and deeply emotionally connected to our programs already, and we have only just begun.
3. Talk a bit about how last season turned out, and your goals for the upcoming season. And what do you feel you need to do to accomplish your goals this season?
Last season was a success, but also disappointing. We say this because of Madison's hip surgery, which was a great success. She was able to recover, and compete better and better through the season. This was not a guarantee, and we were of course very pleased with this aspect of our season.
It was also hard, though, to fight through and overcome so much behind the scenes, but not to see that reflected in the form of big successes at our competitions. While we did well and earned some medals, we also think we placed where many people expected of us, without making greater impact. We wanted to create a "wow," and we didn't feel that we accomplished that. We felt a little lost, and we decided that we needed a change of environment to reignite the passion inside us. We feel that we've made the right decision, and we are so happy, excited, and determined to become the best skaters we can be in our new home.
4. How is it like to work alongside Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron? Do you feel that their rise last season means that other skaters - like you - can make similar leaps?
It is truly inspiring training with all the teams in Montréal, and having the World Champions in our home arena is a wonderful asset. They are beautiful, creative skaters, and they're mesmerizing even when they're working on and helping come up with their choreography. Their success last year was a testament not only to their own hard work, dedication, and passion, but also that of the coaching staff here in Montréal.
5. How collaborative has the music selection process been with your new coaches? And when will you release your program music for the season? Anxiously awaiting!
We were very impressed with our music selection process, which was very thoughtful, but also very decisive. We found music for both of our programs in only a few weeks, and both programs were choreographed with such care from Marie-France. Every movement has intention, a thought behind it.
We will release our programs soon, we promise! We really want people to see our program in concert with the music. One does not exist without the other.
6. You have a great connection on the ice, and it's great to see your ability to take on different forms of music. Is there a certain style of music that is your favorite?
We have a great relationship on and off the ice, and have grown close over the past four years. Every day we are learning more about each other, the way we think, and the way we move. We are both very open people who perform on a deeply personal level.
Our skating style is well-suited to the blues, but we feel that we are also very versatile. All of our programs have been different styles and themes, and we are looking forward to showing everyone yet another style that we can perform this season.
7. What has been your favorite program so far, short or free? Also, would you consider revamping your FD from the '13/'14 season (Bohemian Rhapsody) as your Olympic season program? It was exquisite.
We feel that our new free dance is going to be very special, and it is our favorite so far. We loved our program from the 2014 season, and it will always hold a special place in our heart, but we would never repeat any of our programs. We went through so much during the 2014 season, between injuries and barely missing the Olympic team. That year, and that program really bonded us together and made us a stronger team.
8. Who does the choreography for your exhibitions? Loved the Thousand Years one, and the redoing of your first season FD to Joe Cocker as a tribute last year at Nationals.
We do all of the choreography for our show programs. They are a chance for us to feel free and reconnected with our love of skating. There is no pressure during shows - no judges and scores - so we let ourselves relax and just enjoy the moment.
9. Are you going to be doing more shows this year? How do you decide where you do them?
We would love to do some more shows, but we have to put our training first. When we are invited to participate, we always want to say yes, but we have to look at whether or not we can take days away from our training or if we need to really buckle down and work.
10. What do you think you will do when you retire from competing (though I hope it's not for many years!!)? Will you stay involved in skating, or do you have other interests?
Zach: I love to teach and choreograph. After retiring from competition, I'd love to work with all the disciplines of figure skating, with thoughts towards a larger show production. For now, I'm focusing on my training and soaking up all the knowledge of movement, choreography, and technique that I can.
Madi: I've always said that I would leave the world of figure skating, but as I get older, I'm beginning to realize how hard it would be to live away from the ice. I do know that I'd like to have a family and be a mom. I love kids, and I also love to create things. Whether it is gardening, baking, art, or making jewelry, I like to try everything. We will just have to wait and see.
Madi and Zach in Shanghai for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships
Extra thanks to their fans and Redditors at US Nationals!
March 23, 2015 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach have arrived in Shanghai, China for the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. They qualified for Worlds after winning the bronze medal at the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
At Nationals, they started with a smoldering short dance that highlighted their power and chemistry. Their flamenco and paso doble filled every corner of the Greensboro Coliseum, reflecting all the hard work they put in during the season with a Latin choreographer.
Madi and Zach were so fierce, in fact, that they became a trending entry on Reddit, where avid Photoshoppers quickly went to work. All of us at Team Madi and Zach are seriously ROTFLOL!
In their free dance, set to music from the soundtrack to the recent Great Gatsby movie, Madi and Zach presented a variety of styles, moods, and shapes. Although Madi continues to recover from surgery in March of 2014 and had not had physical therapy during the entire week of Nationals, their vast improvement in speed, power, and range of motion over last season was evident.
Madi and Zach very much appreciate the overwhelming love and support they continue to receive from their fans, and look forward to showing their progress at Worlds. Since Nationals, Madi has continued to recover, and both Madi and Zach have trained intensively. On a recent U.S. Figure Skating conference call, Madi said that "our goal is to show everyone what we know ourselves... that we're back 100%."
For Worlds, Madi and Zach will be unveiling new costumes for their Great Gatsby free dance. As an exclusive to this website, Madi and Zach have shared photos of Madi's new dress, which, as mentioned previously on this website, was once again painstakingly hand-made by Susan Hubbell, Madi's mom. For example, what looks like a belt isn't one. Instead, it's an intricate row of beading that took over 20 hours of handiwork.
Check out Madi's dress beneath this paragraph. And don't forget to cheer Madi and Zach on at Worlds, whether you're there in person, watching online, or with them in spirit!
Madi and Zach training hard for Nationals
Show your support for Madi & Zach at Nationals with a special T-shirt
January 16, 2015 - Webmaster Update
Madi & Zach are hard at work preparing for the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, NC. They have reworked sections of their short dance, and are continuing to train strongly every day.
Are you also going to U.S. Nationals in Greensboro and cheering on Madi and Zach? Team Madi and Zach would like to meet you and thank you for your support. The team has made a limited number of t-shirts just for the occasion, and would like to give away these shirts to fans who can confirm their attendance in Greensboro by meeting a member of Team Madi and Zach in person at the arena. Depending on demand, a random drawing will be held to determine the winners of the giveaway. A member of Team Madi and Zach will then contact the winners to arrange a meeting time and location.
To enter, please send Team Madi and Zach a private message via their Facebook page (click on "Message" on the right side of the cover image) with your name and contact details in Greensboro (cell and email). All information will be kept confidential - although a few lucky winners will get their shirts personalized and autographed by Madi and Zach!
And if you can't wait until Greensboro to get your Madi and Zach fix, check out some short videos they filmed recently for U.S. Figure Skating. As always, Madi and Zach thank you for your support!
Madi and Zach cap their fall competitive season with gold at Golden Spin and bronze at Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard
Plus: Madi's mom offers an inside look into the costume-making process
December 12, 2014 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi and Zach on completing their Fall 2014 competitive season!
On November 1st, Madi and Zach won the bronze medal at Skate Canada International, held in Kelowna, BC. The competition was an opportunity for Madi and Zach to debut their programs in a competitive setting and obtain feedback from international judges. Despite having trained for only six weeks, Madi and Zach were able to execute six Level 4 elements between their short and free dances, and earned a combined score of 148.23 for the competition.
After Skate Canada, Madi and Zach trained harder, refined their programs, and even worked with Madi's mom, Sue, to revamp their costumes (see below). On November 22nd, they improved their combined score to 152.11 at Trophée Eric Bompard in Bordeaux, France, where they won the bronze medal. There, they again executed six Level 4 elements between their short and free dances, and generated particularly positive attention for a strong free dance.
Madi and Zach then regrouped quickly to compete at Golden Spin of Zagreb, where on December 6th they became the first American ice dancers to win the event in 28 years. In addition to executing nine Level 4 elements, they received personal-best scores in international competition in all phases of the event, earning 66.40, 100.34, and 166.74 points in the short dance, free dance, and overall, respectively.
At Golden Spin, Madi and Zach posted scores that were among the highest in ice dance so far this season, and look forward to improving upon these results at their next competition, the 2015 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, NC. Cheer them on, whether live or in spirit!
In other news, don't forget to follow Madi and Zach's new, combined Twitter account at @hubbelldonohue, as well as their individual accounts at @MadiHubbell and @ZachTDonohue!
Inside the costume-making process with Susan Hubbell
At Trophée Eric Bompard, Madi and Zach unveiled new costumes for both the short and free dance. These costumes were designed and hand-made by Susan Hubbell, Madi's mom. For this website, Sue graciously took time to share some insight into the costume design and manufacturing process.
Sue's background is in clothing design. She's "always loved fashion" and has sewn her entire life. Currently, she's very active in interior design work. In the past, Sue has worked on costumes for ballet and stage productions, gowns for weddings, and pieces for clothing lines.
Many skating parents can attest to the tremendous investments and sacrifices that go into their children's skating careers. For Sue, this involvement goes much deeper. She's made all of the costumes that Madi and Zach have worn, plus almost all those that Madi and her brother Keiffer wore when they skated together. Sue jokes that it's "hard to watch the kids skate because I'm watching the costumes all the time. Why is that arm doing that? Or why is that wrinkle there?"
Skating costumes versus theatre costumes
According to Sue, designing the right costume is always challenging because, as a skater, "you need to look good every single moment you're out there, when you're being watched from every single direction, all while you're doing extreme athletics." One year, the Hubbell family decided to try something different, spending $10,000 on third-party costumes for Madi and Keiffer, only to require extensive alterations after their first competition of the season. They hurriedly went back to Sue, who designed brand-new costumes for them just in time for Nationals.
In particular, when compared to other pieces Sue has worked on, "skating costumes are harder because you have additional challenges that are not present with stage costumes. First, in skating there is no stage lighting to enhance the appearance. Athletes perform on a huge, blank stage with nothing else around them, and they are viewed by spectators from 360 degrees." Therefore, while some costumes may look brilliant on a theatre stage, where "a dress with 5,000 rhinestones will look like a disco ball in show lighting," that same dress may come across much differently on the ice, not only on its own, but also in the context of other skaters sharing the same ice with costumes of their own.
Designing each season's costumes
While Sue "always has ideas for dresses," she incorporates a variety of inputs and ideas in the costume design process at the beginning of each season, whether her own or those of Madi, Zach, and their coaches. When Madi was younger, she would often nod approvingly at Sue's ideas, but as Madi and Zach have grown more independent and seasoned, they've also become quite "opinionated and artistic, and usually have a strong mind about what they want."
As each season progresses, the entire team also receives continual feedback from officials and other experts, whom they meet at venues like USFS Champs Camp and at monitoring sessions. For example, this season, Madi and Zach's free dance is to music from the modern Baz Luhrmann portrayal of The Great Gatsby, which presents "endless possibilities" as the movie is "a great venue for costumes." These possibilities include designs that are "authentic" or "vintage" to the period depicted in the movie - or even exact replicas of the characters in the movie. Because Madi and Zach's music selections are more modern, however, they were also counseled to incorporate more modern influences into their free dance costumes.
Meanwhile, the short dance costumes that Madi and Zach wore at Skate Canada were inspired by an online video of "Malaguena" that was suggested to them. While the costumes received positive feedback at Champs Camp, Madi began experiencing issues with the mesh of her dress, as well as a planned sash around the waist that changed the look of her lines. That sash was abandoned altogether for Skate Canada, after which the team chose to rethink all their costumes for the season.
New costumes, mid-season
With only weeks between Skate Canada and their next competition at Trophée Eric Bompard in France, Sue had to work fast, not only to come up with new costume ideas, but also to execute them, even turning down lucrative assignments from her regular work. While "some costumes take a long time and others are a bit simpler," there's often "hours and hours of handiwork" involved. The dress Madi used for her Great Gatsby free dance at Skate Canada was "almost completely made of stones" - 7,000 of them, in fact. For Sue, this "took hours to sit there and glue them in place," one-by-one, blending them into the fabric in order to enhance the feeling of movement.
For their new short dance costumes, drafting the patterns "took a few trials and errors," but Sue was quickly able to design a "completely seamless" pattern for Madi. Specifically, the dress accentuates and highlights the effortlessly gorgeous lines and edges Madi creates with her legs, and also was hand-dyed several times to arrive at the perfect shade of "deep garnet red." Zach's costume, meanwhile, features an intricate series of ruffles around the chest to mirror the Spanish theme of the dance.
For their new free dance costumes, Madi and Zach received feedback that their costumes should be less "invisible," create less of an impression of "blended movements," and instead show "starker contrast to the ice." Sue arrived at a formula for the costumes that, while "neither hip-hop nor vintage," still draws inspiration from the Great Gatsby theme, particularly the "linear" and "blingy" gold-on-black graphics and marketing for the movie. Already, Sue feels that "something about the new costumes works" - especially in the way they highlight Madi and Zach's "clarity of movements."
Labor of love
Skating costumes are very expensive. Ladies' singles skaters "usually pay at least $1,000 for a simple, straightforward dress," while more elaborate dresses "can be $5,000 or more." The expense is not just for materials, which runs into the thousands of dollars for each costume, but also for many hours of painstaking labor and handwork. Despite the fact that someone with Sue's skills and experience could be paid extremely well to make skating costumes, Sue prefers to focus primarily on Madi, Zach, and one or two other training mates at any particular time, because the well-defined schedule of the skating season often makes for very tight deadlines, with numerous costumes due all at once.
In the immediate wake of Trophée Eric Bompard, Madi and Zach's new costumes are already drawing strongly positive feedback. Nevertheless, you won't see Sue Hubbell resting on her laurels. Count on Sue to continue watching every step of Madi and Zach's performances - as well as those of their costumes - in coming up with new ideas.
Q&A Session with Madi & Zach
Latest updates on Madi's recovery and Madi and Zach's programs for this season
October 15, 2014 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach sat down recently for an interview over Skype to answer some questions they’ve been getting, and to update fans on how their recovery and training for this season are progressing. As always, Madi and Zach are well-spoken, fun to talk with, and have lots of interesting things to say. They’re pleased to be sharing this here on their website. Enjoy!
Madi, last season, despite a very painful injury, you managed to compete in the Grand Prix and at Nationals, not to mention winning Four Continents. Yet you were in more pain than most people were aware of. Tell us a bit about the challenges and thoughts you faced during the season and how you managed to put on such a brave face while performing at the highest caliber.
Madi: Early last season, during the summer, we lost lots of training time - two month's worth - after I suffered a concussion in a training accident. When I returned to the ice afterwards, I pushed myself too hard in making up for lost time. A lingering issue with my hip that I'd been dealing with for several years flared up. This was a double whammy - losing lots of training time, and dealing with severe pain in my hip.
Because we wanted to be on the Olympic team, we had to appear strong going into Nationals. A lot of people don't realize how limited our training was going into our Grand Prix events, Nationals, and then Four Continents. Although we weren't at our best, we're still happy with how the year turned out. And if we'd been at the Olympics, we wouldn't have been able to prepare well for this season. So having my surgery sooner gave us more time to prepare for this season. I'm much stronger and we're excited about the new season right now. And as a team, we're stronger together because of all we've been through.
Zach, while Madi was off the ice last season, did you do anything different with your training and fitness regime?
Zach: If you've met our coach Anjelika, you know she can be really tough. While I skated less last season than what I would have if I was together with Madi, I still did a lot of on-ice work with Anjelika, plus a lot of off-ice work like weight and cardio training to keep myself fit, because it's not a good idea to change your physique or your fitness level during the season. So, on-ice, I felt I was able to improve in a lot of areas, while off-ice, I continued to train hard at the gym.
Madi, tell us about your thoughts and experiences in deciding on surgery, undergoing it, and recovering from it. Many people would have found it stressful - how did you handle it all?
Madi: It helps that I'm very interested in science and medicine. For me, I've never been intimidated by doctors, medical procedures, or surgeries. I stayed awake through the entire surgery and could see everything that was happening. I was not only anxious to be done with the pain, but I was also interested in how the team was going to fix it, and I was fascinated to see it live. Dr. Philippon is one of the top surgeons in the world for this particular type of surgery, and combined with his great team, I had no doubt that the surgery was going to go very well.
I was very surprised at how little pain there was initially after the surgery. Although I wasn't able to do much besides physical therapy, lying in bed, and walking around crutches for the first month after the surgery, the team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs took great care of me and helped get me back on my feet.
The first few months of my recovery went super well. Although we hadn't planned on doing any Senior B events this season, we kept the option open, and we were initially selected to compete at Finlandia Trophy. As the season approached in August, however, we decided that I shouldn't push myself too hard, and that we needed a few extra weeks to prepare for Skate Canada. Therefore, we pulled out of Finlandia.
Things are now getting better for me every week. With the help of physical therapy, I don't feel any weakness like I did last year, and overall I'm feeling so much better than last year. I'm doing lots of exercises and building up strength again - all par for the course. It's a great mental advantage for us this year for me to be confident in myself and to be back to my old self - ready to compete.
Our goal is to do as well as we can at Nationals this season. I also think we can do really well at our Grand Prix events. Although I've just barely recovered from the surgery, we want to compete the best we can this season and see where it takes us.
On that note, let's talk about this season and the programs you've prepared. Zach, you've tweeted that your new paso doble short dance is so good, it’s "sick," while Madi, you've revealed that your free dance will be to music from the soundtrack to the recent Great Gatsby movie.
Madi and Zach: Our short dance is to a Spanish paso doble theme this year. We think it's going to be really strong for us. While we love to explore different dance styles, everyone has their comfort zones. For us, it’s less about fun, cutesy dances than it is powerful ones like the paso doble.
Our free dance is to music from the Great Gatsby soundtrack, and we've tweaked it here and there already. What attracted us to the soundtrack and the movie was the underlying love story, especially how they were able to put a lot of different dance styles together with different pieces of music. We feel it'll be very crowd-pleasing and very different from anything we've seen our competitors put out there. Definitely, what Zach and I have is an athletic, spontaneous sense to our skating, and we're trying to portray that with this particular dance. It's very challenging and fast all the way up to the end, where we're hoping to build up to a high point with the audience in the arena.
Madi and Zach, let's talk some more about what you want to show this season to everyone out there, whether judges, officials, fans, or audiences.
Zach: With Meryl Davis and Charlie White not competing this season, and with the beginning of a new quad, the door's wide open for the top spot in U.S. ice dance. We really have an opportunity to show how we add diversity to what’s being presented on the ice. This is really our year to shine, and both our programs are suited to our strengths. We're going to show a variety of styles in our programs, and we'll deliver a message that we're a strong team that's still growing, yet very much ready to dominate.
Obviously, we'd love to shine and get a gold medal at Nationals. We're also really gunning for the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, where we'd love to perform our paso doble, so we're going to go all out at our next two events, Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard. We'd also love to be at Four Continents and Worlds again.
Madi: I was just discussing Skate Canada in Kelowna this afternoon with my family. I've heard great things about Kelowna and how friendly and beautiful it is. It's always nice to go somewhere that's naturally beautiful, with spectacular scenery. We've also heard a lot about the wine country there.
I'm also quite excited about Trophée Eric Bompard in Bordeaux. Although I've been to Paris twice already, and Zach's been there once, we'd love to see more of France, particularly their famous wine growing areas. In Bordeaux, we look forward to celebrating not only the end of our main Grand Prix season but also a possible place in the Grand Prix Final. There's going to be some great competition at both events. With Kelowna, Bordeaux, and potentially Shanghai, this looks to be a glamourous season full of new experiences.
Personally, you have to push yourself and train harder everyday. We focus less on the competition and more on how far we can push ourselves. We're still kind of a "mystery team" because not many people realize how little we skated last year, and how that's such a small fraction of what we're capable of doing. With how much we can train now, the sky's the limit, and we're going to continue pushing as hard as we can and see where we end up.
Madi and Zach, many of your fans would love to hear about how much you care for animals. Both of you have pets at home, and Zach, you even rescued a stray cat from the especially frigid winter this past season. Tell us a bit about your pets and how they've been a part of your lives.
Zach: Yes, I spotted a kitten shivering in the cold, across the field outside Madi's apartment, and took her home. Unfortunately, she was feral and I wasn't able to keep her, but I was able to get her to the humane society, the same one where we found Madi's first bunny.
I also previously had another cat. Although my roommate was highly allergic to it, my roommate helped find a new home for it. Currently, I have two ferrets. They're the coolest little shenaniganizers I've ever met!
Madi: My brother Keiffer has always had a huge fascination with reptiles and amphibians, and our family house has always been filled with different creatures. Right now we have a habitat for preying mantises that just finished breeding. We hope to see the eggs hatch soon.
I've also rescued two bunnies from the local humane society, and we have a cat, Garfield, that we took in from a family friend that couldn't have one anymore. I believe we also currently have four snakes - we once had a dozen of them! That's in addition to frogs, chameleons, and tarantulas. There aren't too many animals that I don't like, but I'm not a huge fan of when my brother puts a tarantula on me!
I'm a total animal person and we even went to the Detroit Zoo today to see the new baby giraffe born there.
Tell us about some other things you like to do for fun, besides skating, of course. For example, in a past IceNetwork interview with Michael Buckley, Madi said Zach was a "really good" singer. Will we be seeing any YouTube clips soon?
Zach: There won't be any YouTube clips, unfortunately.
Madi: Zach's shy about it, but he's a phenomenal singer. I think he's got "America's Got Talent" in his future!
Talking about singing, music with vocals has been allowed in ice dance for some time now. This season, it'll be allowed in all the other skating disciplines. What are your thoughts on vocals in skating?
Zach: Vocals can be both dangerous and great for ice dancers. With certain songs and lyrics, people may expect to see specific things in the program. At the same time, with almost any lyrical song, vocals can add to the story you're portraying.
While vocals can help pairs skaters, for solo freestyle skaters, it can be hard to skate to a song that's clearly about another specific person or is strongly associated with a particular singer. Since singles skaters are by themselves out there, it's hard not to make things look like a show program. At the same time, there are skaters who are doing great programs, like Elladj Baldé and his James Brown short program. Generally, if you can find a piece of music that highlights your strengths, then that's an asset.
Madi: I would say that lyrics can add to your program, although there are some pieces of music that can get "lost" in an arena. There are also versions of certain pieces of music that don't need lyrics.
This year, we're using three modern/pop music selections in our free dance, which we think can relate to younger audiences. If we can help broaden skating's appeal to a wider audience, than that's great. At the same time there are fans and judges from various generations so I think we also need to find a balance between different generations and genres.
Anything else your fans should look forward to this season?
Madi and Zach: We're going to perform at the MK Young Artists Showcase in Washington, DC on Sunday, November 30. It's led by Audrey Weisiger, and there will be a lot of good choreographers coming in, especially some of Macklemore's tour dancers. It all goes to benefit Kids on Ice.
And of course, we're going all out for Skate Canada in Kelowna, BC on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1, as well as Trophée Eric Bompard in Bordeaux, France on Friday, November 21 and Saturday, November 22.
Thanks Madi and Zach for your time! Best of luck this year!
Madi and Zach: Yes, and a big thank you to all of our fans out there for all your continuing support!
Madi & Zach kick off the 2014-2015 season
Recovery on track; assigned two ISU Grand Prix events
July 24, 2014 - Webmaster Update
Madi and Zach are pleased to report that Madi's recovery from her March surgery is progressing on track!
In fact, both Madi and Zach are hard at work preparing for the 2014-2015 competitive season. They visited the U.S. Olympic Training Center over the summer, and have already worked with coaches Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova to develop a new paso doble short dance that promises to be so exciting and difficult that Zach calls it "sick." Madi also announced, via her Twitter page, that their free dance this season will be based on the recent Baz Luhrmann movie portrayal of "The Great Gatsby."
July has already been a busy month for Madi and Zach. Earlier in the month, Madi and Zach were honored to be guest coaches at the Grassroots to Champions Super Camp in Lansing, Michigan, where they taught moves and skills to young skaters. Also, on July 19th, Madi and Zach headlined the Saturday Night Ice Show in Lake Placid, where they performed two exhibition programs.
Madi and Zach are also pleased to have been selected for two ISU Grand Prix events this fall. They will compete at the 2014 Skate Canada International in Kelowna, British Columbia from October 30th to November 2nd. They will also compete at the 2014 Trophée Éric Bompard in Bordeaux, France from November 21st to 23rd. If you're able to travel to these two events, Madi and Zach would certainly appreciate your presence and support in the audience!
Above all, Madi and Zach would like to thank their family, friends, and fans for the outpouring of love that they received this past season and during Madi's surgery and recovery - in particular, cards, flowers, care packages, and many thoughtful, heartfelt messages of support. Please stay in touch through their Facebook page and through Madi and Zach's Twitter accounts!
Madi successfully undergoes surgery
"Best-case" outcome; to undergo physical therapy for several weeks
March 6, 2014 - Webmaster Update
On Tuesday, March 4th, Madi underwent surgery for her torn labrum at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, CO, under the guidance of world-renowned Dr. Marc J. Philippon, in tandem with the Steadman staff, the Vail Valley Surgical Center, and the Howard Head Sports Medicine Clinic.
The surgery went off without a hitch, in what physicians called a "best case scenario." Only 8 hours after the operation finished, the Steadman team already had Madi on an exercise bike for 20 minutes as part of her first rehab session. Madi will continue her rehabilitation and physical therapy at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for several weeks before heading home to Michigan.
Follow Madi's real-time updates on Twitter and on Instagram! Zach is on Twitter too.
Wish Madi well on her way to recovery! While Madi & Zach will not be going to the ISU World Championships because of the surgery, they have already been floating ideas for programs this coming season, and look forward to returning to the ice and easing back into training when Madi is fully healthy. Cards, flowers, and well wishes are eagerly accepted at:
c/o U.S. Figure Skating
20 First Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Madi & Zach win the 2014 ISU Four Continents Championships
Madi rallies through lingering pain; team posts personal-best international scores
January 27, 2014 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi & Zach on winning the ice dance event at the 2014 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei!
Despite lingering pain from a labral tear, Madi exhibited exceptional courage and composure in rallying through the entire event. Madi & Zach earned 61.05 points in the short dance and 97.20 points in the free dance for an overall score of 158.25 points. All three scores are career bests in international competition for Madi & Zach.
In earning Level 4s for their lifts, twizzles, and circular footwork, Madi and Zach earned over 50 points for technical elements in the free dance, the most of any ice dance team at either the 2014 ISU Four Continents or European championships.
Zach summed it up best: "More than anything I’m so proud of Maddie. She’s had the hardest year I think that any skater has to deal with that I’ve heard of. Concussion, tears, injuries, but she’s never given up, never stopped fighting. She was the one that gave us such a successful season and career so far."
Madi and Zach are tremendously grateful for the incredible support and encouragement they've received all season long from family, friends, and fans. They're even taking suggestions for future programs already. Interact with them on their Facebook page, or tweet Madi and/or Zach directly!
- Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue dance to gold (ISU)
- USA rocks dance with gold, bronze in Taipei City (IceNetwork)
- American duo take Four Continents Gold (Olympic.org)
- Hubbell/Donohue regalano alla danza statunitense la nona vittoria nei Four Continents (Neve Italia)
- 四大洲冰舞 美國搭檔逆轉摘金 (蘋果日報)
Madi & Zach place fourth at U.S. Nationals; headed to Taipei to compete at the ISU Four Continents Championships
January 17, 2014 - Webmaster Update
Madi & Zach placed fourth at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston. While they were just 2.17 points shy of an Olympic berth, their lyrical "Nocturne into Bohemian Rhapsody" free dance met an appreciative audience and was highly anticipated by commentators and journalists all week long.
In particular, Sandra Bezic of NBC took note of their skills and connection, saying, "Madison and Zach perform on the edge. They always give it their all. They have wonderful chemistry." Thank you, Sandra!
The season is not over, though. Madi and Zach will be part of the U.S. delegation to the 2014 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei. There, they will compete in the short dance on Wednesday, January 22, and will perform their free dance on Thursday, January 23.
In addition, Madi & Zach are first alternates for the 2014 U.S. teams for the Olympics and ISU World Figure Skating Championships.
When Madi was sidelined during the early part of the season by a concussion and, later, a torn labrum, it was uncertain whether Madi & Zach would rally and make it this far. They couldn't have done so without the tremendous outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans. Madi & Zach want to thank all of you for inspiring them to move forward. They promise to work even harder towards bigger and better things ahead!
Support Madi & Zach in their quest for the Olympics by cheering them on at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships
January 5, 2014 - Webmaster Update
Join Madi & Zach in Boston this week and cheer them on at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships!
The U.S. Championships, also called "Nationals," serve multiple purposes every year. Depending on their placements, skaters can qualify for international competition assignments and funding envelopes from U.S. Figure Skating. In an Olympic year, Nationals also serve as the primary selection event for the U.S. Olympic figure skating team.
Madi & Zach will be competing for a spot on the Olympic team in the Championship Dance event. They expect to arrive in Boston in time for the start of Championship Dance practices on Wednesday, January 8. These practice sessions will be open to all-event ticket holders. See the event and practice schedules here.
January 8 is also Zach's birthday. Wish him well in Boston!
The first phase of the competition for Madi & Zach, the short dance, will take place on Friday, January 10. Buy tickets for the short dance here, or in person at the TD Garden box office, if you haven't already.
The second and final phase of the competition, the free dance, takes place on Saturday, January 11. Buy tickets for the free dance here, or in person at the TD Garden box office, and cheer them on in person!
Separately, Zach, Madi, and Zach's mom were featured recently in a Connecticut website. The article talks at length about Zach's upbringing, the circumstances behind his partnering with Madi, and the challenges which both Madi, Zach, and their families have worked to overcome this season and over the years.
January 10 update - Madi and Zach have arrived in Boston, are feeling great, and are looking strong in practices. Thanks to superfan Dia Thelen for these lovely hats and scarves, just in time for the chilly weather!
Madi & Zach look forward to seeing you all in Boston and are deeply grateful for your continued support and well wishes!
- Ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue bringing the Olympic spirit to Boston (Middletown Press)
- Boston beans: Hubbell dances, trains through pain (IceNetwork)
- Connecticut Skater Seeks Olympic Chance At U.S. Championships in Boston (Connecticut by the Numbers)
- Emily Tuttle’s Don’t Miss Programs: U.S. Nationals Edition (The Skating Lesson)
Madi & Zach wish you a merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and all the best for the New Year
December 25, 2013 - Webmaster Update
Madi & Zach are always immensely grateful for the support of friends, family, and fans, and are thrilled to be launching this website as a holiday present for all their supporters!
Join Madi & Zach in Boston for the short dance on Friday, January 10 and the free dance on Saturday, January 11 as they aim for the U.S. Olympic team at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Madi speaks candidly about skating through injury
Pain is now manageable; Madi and Zach to aim for the U.S. Olympic team at 2014 Nationals
December 3, 2013 - Webmaster Update
In a blog post on IceNetwork, Madi revealed publicly that she had skated through her entire Fall 2013 competitive season with severe pain in her left hip.
Madi wrote: "A slight discomfort in my left hip while at Nebelhorn quickly transformed from manageable to unmanageable by the end of our Grand Prix season." With few run-throughs of their programs during this time, Madi & Zach still managed to achieve impressive results, winning their first ISU Grand Prix medal at Skate Canada.
After Skate Canada, Madi sought guidance from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, where she was diagnosed with a labral tear. Madi got the go-ahead to resume full training, and, thanks to a regimen aimed at strengthening the area, is in much improved shape.
Madi and Zach would like to thank their family, friends, and fans for all their encouragement through what was a highly successful fall season, even with this injury. They look forward to showing off the results from their resumption of full training at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, where they will aim for the U.S. Olympic team.
- Madi's blog on IceNetwork: "Hubbell's scope: Ice dancer pushes through pain" (IceNetwork)
Madi & Zach win first career ISU Grand Prix medal at Skate Canada
Featured as Olympic hopefuls on Detroit television
October 31, 2013 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi & Zach on winning the bronze medal at the 2013 Skate Canada International!
Madi & Zach achieved personal-best scores at the international level in placing third during all phases of the competition. They earned 60.92 points for their short dance and 92.28 points for their free dance, combining for a total of 153.20.
In their short dance, Madi & Zach achieved Levels 3 and 4 on all their elements, leaving a strong, clean, and powerful impression despite an accidental slip-up at the end of the program.
Madi & Zach again achieved Level 4 on five of their elements in the free dance, captivating the audience at Harbour Station in Saint John, New Brunswick. Throughout the competition, they achieved positive grades of execution on all their elements, and received high program component scores.
Also, Madi & Zach were especially grateful for lavish praise and feedback from British Eurosport commentators Chris Howarth and Nicky Slater, who "loved it! couldn't take [their] eyes off them," noting that their free dance "was just to die for, wow-ee" and that "the skating quality from these two is something to behold. A wonderful partnership." Thank you, Chris and Nicky!
Skate Canada International was the second of six events in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. Madi & Zach placed fourth at the first event, Hilton HHonors Skate America, the previous week. In conjunction with Nebelhorn Trophy, they've finished a whirlwind month full of traveling and competitions.
They look forward to resting for a bit before resuming training for their next major competition, the Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which will be held in January in Boston and will serve as the qualifying event for the 2014 U.S. Olympic figure skating team.
After Madi & Zach returned from Skate Canada, they were featured as Olympic hopefuls in a segment on WDIV-TV in Detroit. Click on the video below for more.
- 5 metro Detroit ice dance teams vying to compete at Winter Olympics (WDIV-TV, Detroit)
- Reuters photo of Madi & Zach's free dance
- Youtube search for Madi & Zach's Skate Canada performances
Madi & Zach place fourth at Skate America with two strong performances
Aim for continued improvement at Skate Canada International
October 21, 2013 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi & Zach on a fourth-place finish at 2013 Hilton HHonors Skate America!
Madi & Zach turned in solid, powerful performances in both the short dance and free dance to earn personal-best scores in international competition.
In their short dance, which earned them 60.71 points, Madi & Zach achieved Level 4s on the first Finnstep pattern, plus a twizzle sequence and lift.
Their intricate, error-free "Nocturne into Bohemian Rhapsody" free dance featured five Level 4 elements and also earned them high program component scores, for a total score of 92.27.
Madi & Zach look forward to their next competition, the Skate Canada International this coming week in Saint John, New Brunswick. Skate America and Skate Canada are the first two events in the 2013-14 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, a series of six international competitions that serve as qualifiers for the 2013-14 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.
- World spot in reach for Hubbell, Donohue (IceNetwork)
- Video of interview with Tonia Kwiatkowski (IceNetwork; subscription required)
- Reuters photo of Madi & Zach's free dance
- Youtube search for Madi & Zach's Skate America performances
- American ice dancers to watch (WDIV-TV video)
- World-class competitors highlight Skate America (Observer & Eccentric, Southeast Michigan)
- Hubbell, Donohue ready to embrace Skate America opportunity (IceNetwork)
Madi & Zach win Nebelhorn Trophy
September 28, 2013 - Webmaster Update
Congratulations to Madi & Zach on winning the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany!
In the short dance, they earned 56.53 points, skating to a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy medley featuring the quickstep, foxtrot, and Charleston.
In the free dance, set to Luca Micarelli's "Nocturne into Bohemian Rhapsody," they earned 90.58 points, for a competition total of 147.11 points. They earned Level 4s for all their lifts, and their step sequences provide opportunities for further score improvement.
Held since 1969, Nebelhorn is a senior-level international competition run by the Deutsche Eislauf-Union and sanctioned by the International Skating Union. Previous ice dance winners include such greats as Klimova/Ponomarenko, Torvill/Dean, Bourne/Kraatz, Belbin/Agosto, and Davis/White.
Madi and Zach won this event as part of their competitive debut two years ago. With their victory here this year, they're looking forward to a great season!
- Hubbell, Donohue claim second Nebelhorn crown (IceNetwork)
- Youtube search for Madi & Zach's Nebelhorn performances
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