After more than a decade as partners, ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue announced that the 2021-22 season would be their last. Were they to they call it quits right now, the duo could look back on a brilliant career that has included two silvers and a bronze at the World Championships; three national titles; and an appearance at the PyeongChang 2018 Games, where they placed fourth – just 4.90 points from a bronze medal.
Thankfully, Hubbell/Donohue will compete at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. They are the reigning ice dance gold medalists at the tournament and could take the top spot again this week, if they are able to fend off longtime rivals Madison Chock and Evan Bates. As long as they perform well, the team is likely to make the roster for the upcoming Games – earning them one last opportunity to clinch an Olympic medal.
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Donohue and Hubbell were born about seven weeks apart: Zachary on January 8th, 1991 in Hartford, Connecticut, and Madison on February 24 in Lansing, Michigan.
Donohue started skating at 11, working with a number of potential ice dancing partners over the next decade. Hubbell took to the ice at age 5, and teamed with one of her two older brothers, Keiffer, at 10. The siblings proved successful, even winning Junior Grand Prix Final gold during the 2006-07 season.
In May 2011, Madison and Keiffer ended their partnership as the latter left ice dance. The younger Hubbell immediately continued with Donohue.
Hubbell stood 5'8", while Donohue hit 6'2" -- making for one of the tallest ice dance teams in the world. In her spare time, Hubbell created the duo's costumes alongside her seamstress mother. When he had time to himself, Donohue customized cars and motorcycles and played video games. Together, they racked up international medals year after year.
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At the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Hubbell/Donohue earned their first gold following three consecutive bronzes. They bested second place finishers, siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani, by 0.19 points. A month later, the Shibutanis earned bronze in both ice dance and the team event at the PyeongChang Olympics – while Hubbell/Donohue left South Korea empty-handed.
Either Hubbell/Donohue or Chock/Bates has finished first at nationals since 2019, with Hubbell/Donohue earning the title twice (including at the most recent competition). Hubbell/Donohue took silver at the 2021 World Championships, and outperformed their rival compatriots at Skate America by 1.3 points for another one-two finish.
"I definitely feel less pressure," Hubbell said of this Olympic season. "With experience, I also know that no outcome is really that bad. I have been fourth at the Olympics, I know what that feels like now. I have been first, second and third at national championships and I know what that feels like.”
Donohue added: "It is quite simple, really, right now the job is a lot bigger than the 'daunting,' if you want to call it that, feeling of this being our final season. We have so much we are pushing for, right to the end, there isn’t a moment we are kind of resting or riding it out."