By Maura Sullivan-Hill, Team FSO staff writer
Header photo by Robin Ritoss
LAS VEGAS, NEV. — Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue claimed their third consecutive Skate America title in Las Vegas on Saturday, Oct. 24. They debuted a new free dance, choreographed by 2010 and 2018 Olympic Champion Scott Moir and set to “Hallelujah,” a different version of the song that they used as a short dance during the 2015-16 season.
“Looking back on our career, it’s true that we’ve used ‘Hallelujah’ from the first year that we moved to Montreal. It felt like, really a way of restarting our career and we used it as a moment of forgiveness to each other and all of the things that we went through as a team. We felt really hopeful when we did it in 2015, and we kept coming back to that music for exhibitions, because in monumental moments of our career, that song feels like it’s us,” Hubbell said. “This off season, we looked at different music, but inevitably we were drawn to the idea of marrying the two versions, the version by K.D. Lang and the version that Zach used to sing to me, which is by Jeff Buckley, and I think it really shows a different side to ‘Hallelujah’ and something that maybe hasn’t been explored as much on the ice, kind of a raw, intimate quality, and that’s something that definitely is part of our partnership. So that was where the choice came from, and luckily, Scott Moir was really on board and he stepped in to do the choreography. So far it’s been smooth sailing and probably our favorite creative process yet.”
The duo decided to create two new programs this year, even with a shorter window of preparation time after rinks closed due to the pandemic. The ISU elected to keep the same rhythm dance pattern and theme for this season as last year, so some teams have kept last season’s rhythm dance programs. But Hubbell and Donohue were ready to move on from last year’s Marilyn Monroe-theme rhythm dance.
“We felt like, as much as we loved Marilyn, we worked really hard all last year and got it to a point where we skated it what we felt was very strong and consistent, and we didn’t feel that there was that much left to squeeze out of the program,” Hubbell said at the rhythm dance press conference.
Silver medalists Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who kept their fan-favorite disco rhythm dance, had a great outing with their new free dance to “Heart of Glass” by Philip Glass and Blondie and “First Movement” by Philip Glass.
“This was a really special night for us,” Hawayek said. “This performance, at least at this point in our career, feels like the most intentional and focused, strong performance we’ve had. One of the things we’ve worked really hard on this year is being able to stay 100 percent committed to our story and to our focus from the very beginning of the program, and I think we felt like that was a really big success tonight, because we stayed invested every moment and it made it fly by.”
Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko took the bronze medal, their second bronze on the Grand Prix circuit. They also finished third at Rostelecom Cup in Russia in 2018. They kept last year’s “Too Darn Hot” rhythm dance and debuted a new free dance to “Dr. Zhivago.”
“So many people have skated to it [‘Dr. Zhivago’] before, so we want to add something new to it…really sharing the [love] story. It’s really relatable so we want to portray that on the ice,” Ponomarenko said, adding that they used pieces from both the 1965 film and a 2002 British miniseries version.
For full results from the ice dance event, click here.