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SENIOR ICE DANCE


Above, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani embrace the moment in their “Evolution” free dance. Right, Madison Chock and Evan Bates fire up the Sprint Center with their “Under Pressure” free dance. Bottom right, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue’s free dance to a romantic medley captivated the K.C. audience.


Te siblings created much of “Evolution”


themselves, along with coaches Zoueva, Oleg Ep- stein and Massimo Scali, and also sought input from Jeff Buttle, Peter Tchernyshev and others. “Tis program is truly ours,” Maia said.


“[Our coaches] trusted us to take so much on, as well as bring in other people that we think can be inspiring to us.” Zoueva thinks it only natural that, at ages 22


and 25, the Shibutanis want — and need — to take control of their careers. “When you go to kindergarten, how many


teachers do you have? One,” Zoueva said. “Ten you go to a university, and you have many. In our sport you always have to improve and grow, and different people can give the skaters specific things. If I taught everything myself, it would be good, but maybe not the best. It’s my job, and Massimo’s job, to put it all together.” From the first bass guitar riff of “Under Pres-


sure,” Chock and Bates won over the crowd with their pulsating movements, exciting lifts and pas- sionate attitude. Tey placed first in the free dance with 119.08 points, just .46 points under the re- cord held by Davis and White, but the couple had to settle for a fourth U.S. silver medal. “It felt like we gave it our all,” Chock said.


“We couldn’t have pushed ourselves any harder.” “If we get hung up on results it doesn’t truly


reflect how our skating has grown and how our partnership has evolved,” Bates said. “Tis was our best competition, probably, to date. We would


26 MARCH 2017


have loved to recapture our national title, but it didn’t happen for us. We were really proud of the performances we put out this week. We’ll be back next year.” Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (Lansing SC), fifth at the Grand Prix Final, made it clear they weren’t coming to Kansas City for a fourth bronze medal. Since moving to Quebec, Montreal, in April 2015 to train under Ma- rie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, their confidence has flourished. “What we did last season to take a big leap


up, to place top six (in the world), was to refine the technical part of our skating,” Hubbell said. “We could skate cleanly and consistently, and not miss levels. Tis year, we want to bring back what makes us, us — free up our range of motion and still not miss the technical levels.”


Te team was hot on the top two couples’ heels after their blues and hip-hop short, entering the free dance just .24 behind Chock and Bates. But in their free dance to a romantic medley, Hubbell’s fall on a transition step cost them any chance to move up. Tey finished third with 191.42 points. “It kind of takes you out of the moment,


when a fluke (fall) like that happens,” Hubbell said. “I was just trying to pay attention to not los- ing any more ground in our levels. Altogether, it was not a great performance.” Chock and Bates’ training partners, Elli-


ana Pogrebinsky (Peninsula SC) and Alex Benoit (Skokie Valley SC), made a successful U.S. Cham-


pionships senior debut with a fun and energetic short dance to Elvis Presley hits, paired with a sul- try free dance to an exotic medley. Tey won the pewter medal with 170.29 points.


JAY ADEFF/U.S. FIGURE SKATING


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