What an incredible day for Maia and Alex Shibutani. After winning three silver and two bronze medals at the U.S. Championships, today Jan. 23, the brother-sister team broke through and captured their first-ever gold medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. They may not have been the overwhelming favorites going into the event, but they have been building an increasing fan base this season and skated away the new favorites in U.S. ice dance.
Reigning world silver medalists and 2015 U.S. champions, Madison Chock and Evan Bates were expected to win this event and were in first place after the short dance. Chock and Bates had a narrow lead of 0.47 points and had a solid free dance. This team has had a lot of changes to their programs this season, but still managed to skate beautifully with deep edges and precision. In the end they had to settle for the silver and finished 3.21 points behind Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. “It felt great out there today, it really did,” Madison said according to U.S. Figure Skating. “This is the best performance we’ve put out all season. We had a little mishap on the spin I guess, we got a little lower [level] than we expected. Other than that, it felt great to skate and we were just enjoying every second of it.”
Maia and Alex Shibutani have been slowly closing the gap in scores with Chock and Bates all season and finally overcame them, winning the gold after a very moving free dance. The Shibutani’s free dance has been turning heads all season and bringing the audience to their feet and viewers to tears. It has been a long journey for this team that have often fallen in the shadows behind Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White and more recently to Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Now, Maia and Alex have earned their own spotlight and have a new U.S. title to put by their names. “We’ve been putting in the work,” Alex said. “Ice dance has a reputation for having to wait your turn. We’ve put in the work this season and I think that has really been showing across the board. We’ve taken our skating to another level this season and I think that’s reflected in our performances and in our scores.”
For a second year in a row Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue will be taking home the bronze. Skating directly after the Shibutanis, Hubbell and Donohue skated wonderfully with innovative lifts and a captivating style. Though still unofficial, these three teams will represent the U.S. well at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships.
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships are not over just yet. The ladies will take to the ice for their free skate this evening and the men will skate their free programs tomorrow. Check out the NBC broadcast schedule to watch live as the action takes place.
Free Dance final results:
1. Maia Shibutani / Alex Shibutani – 190.14
2. Madison Chock / Evan Bates – 186.93
3. Madison Hubbell / Zachary Donohue – 178.81
4. Anastasia Cannuscio / Colin McManus – 160.46
5. Kaitlin Hawayek / Jean-Luc Baker – 158.86
6. Danielle Thomas / Daniel Eaton – 145.01
7. Karina Manta / Joseph Johnson – 142.70
8. Charlotte Maxwell / Ryan Devereaux – 128.98
9. Alexandra Aldridge / Matthew Blackmer – 121.16
10. Alissandra Aronow / Collin Brubaker – 116.41
11. Kseniya Ponomaryova / Oleg Altukhov – 99.86
12.Tory Patsis / Nathaniel Fast – 91.88
13. Elicia Reynolds / Stephen Reynolds – 85.95
14. Gabriela Morrell Zucker / Andrejs Sitiks – 72.60