In the world of ice dance, politics usually run the show. But, on the free dance night in St.Paul, it didn’t- Maia and Alex Shibutani won their first U.S. title after an incredibly long wait. Before the event, I had hoped this would be the outcome, but I had no confidence in the judges. I think I knew they were going to win after the short dance because the scores were so close and I knew Shibs free dance was going to create a moment. That music is just pure magic and the audience was so into their performance.
Please remember one thing about the silver medallists- Madison Chock and Evan Bates skated so incredibly well. They made no mistakes and their free dance was 1,000X better than I saw at Skate America; you can really tell that they are settling into that program. They are a very talented team with good edges and difficult choreography. After re-watching their free dance, you can really see why they have so many international credentials to their name. Though their dances this season may not grab you, the level of their skating is still incredibly high. As they move forward, they will still have everything they need to post good numbers internationally.
Like Chock/Bates, don’t let the talent of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donahue go unnoticed. They have such a beautiful chemistry on the ice and both of their skates here looked improved from earlier in the season. Unfortunately, their “Hallelujah” short dance was underscored in my opinion and they kind of got lost in the shuffle in the free dance, skating behind the Shibutanis. Their recent coaching change seems to have done them so well and both of their programs this season are very emotional and well choreographed. In another field, their skating could easily have placed higher, but this is such a competitive group.
Huge congratulations to Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus for breaking the dance hierarchy and placing fourth at these championships. They have such a crisp energy to their skating and they kind of wake you up when you’re watching them. I love the end of their free dance where he’s spinning her and her leg movements accent the beat of the music- very effective! They looked so happy with their placement and I hope they can continue their progress next year with some good international assignments.
Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean Luc Baker have really had a rough season. They had mistakes at early events, had to withdraw from a Grand Prix event because of illness, and they just never seemed to really settle into their programs this year. They attempted new costumes in both programs- I liked her new short dance dress, and I liked their new free dance costumes in general, but they really didn’t fit the program...so I was left mostly confused. I think their free dance in particular has such incredible potential- part of me hopes they keep it and refine it so it can be the piece they really want it to be. I really like these two, so hopefully they take the time off to reset and revise.
Overall, what I really felt after watching that event was that U.S. ice dance has so much to be proud of...and a lot of teams with so much talent. That whole last group was an example of really great skating.
About the Blog:
Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.