Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won the final Skate America of their careers on Sunday by a tiny margin.
The U.S. ice dancers maintained their lead from Saturday’s rhythm dance and won the first Grand Prix of the figure skating season with a total of 209.54 points in Las Vegas. They edged teammates and training mates Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who were second both days to take the silver with 208.23.
Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorenson of Montreal got bronze (190.13), just as they had in 2019 at Skate America and the Cup of China, The Canadians did not have any Grand Prix opportunities last season due to the pandemic.
Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen ranked fourth for the free dance but held on to third by a mere 0.44 points over Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz of Spain, who were fourth.
WATCH l Fournier Beaudry, Sorensen 3rd after rhythm dance:
”It was so great to be back in international competition with an audience,” Sorensen told reporters. ”We really felt them with us in both programs and it gave us the energy to produce two clean skates.”
In September, Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen won silver at the Lombardia Trophy figure skating competition in Bergamo, Italy.
Earlier this year, they finished a career-high eighth at the word championships and won four medals in international competition in 2019, including their first gold at the Nebelhorn Trophy Obertsdorf, Germany.
The top four teams are coached by Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer at the Ice Academy of Montreal.
Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Que., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver, B.C., moved to seventh overall from eighth after the rhythm dance.
”It was an awesome experience,” said Firus ranked third with Soucisse in Canada. ”We are really happy with our performances, we don’t feel at this point in the season we could have done much better. We had some objectives for this meet and we achieved them.”
Hubbell and Donohue, fourth at their Olympic debut four years ago, have vowed this will be their final season, meaning they will retire from competition after either the Beijing Olympics in February or the world championships in March.
WATCH l Hubbell, Donohue lead after rhythm dance:
“I couldn’t be happier with the performance today,” Hubbell said. “Some days you take inspiration from different things, whether it be the work you put in at home or that my mom is in the stands. Something clicked this morning and I really wanted to skate for myself and be there with Zach.
“I think we both accomplished that goal and, in doing so, accomplished the other goal of taking home the gold.”
They are the only ice dance team to medal at each of the last three world championships and are among the favourites to reach the Olympic podium.
Their win at Orleans Arena is their fourth in a row at Skate America, tying them with 2014 Olympic champions and fellow Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White for the longest ice dance win streak in the event’s history.
Skate Canada International begins next Friday and Saturday in Vancouver.