Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue
Official Website - 2012-2016 U.S. Figure Skating National Team Members and 2014 ISU Four Continents Ice Dance Champions
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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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