by Anne Calder

Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA) won gold, followed by Kaitlin Hayawek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) with silver. Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed (JPN) took home the bronze.

Short Dance: Three teams who train in North America Montreal, CAN and Michigan, USA – led the competition.

Americans Hubbell & Donohue earned the only level 4 pattern score and were up 11 points.

“We were surprised by some things like the level 3 (curve) lift and the twizzles, which were only level 2, while our execution was very good,” Hubbell said.  “We left points on the table, but given we started with a 71, that’s a really good place for us.”

The second place team of Muramoto & Reed received level 4 for their twizzles and lift.

“Before we came here Marina [Zoueva] and Massimo [Scali] told us not to think about the points, but to show what we can do in the performance,” Muramoto said. “Last season we thought about turns etc. This season it’s an all out attack on the entire performance.”

After an unfortunate fall on the twizzles, Americans Hawayak & Baker finished third. According to the team, putting the twizzles at the end is a risk, but in ten run-throughs prior to the event, an error really only occurred once.

“It was really a lack of focus,” Hawayek explained. “This season we want to perform every second of the program, and I put just a little too much energy into it.”

Dance teams from Denmark, Canada, and Armenia rounded out the top six.

Free Dance: Hubbell & Donohue won their third straight US Classic with a mezmerizing blues program to “Across the Sky” by Rag N’ Bone Man and “Caught Out in the Rain” by Beth Hart.

“We wanted to do a blues, but we didn’t want to mimic anything we had done before, which was always a raw, more sexual energy,” Hubbell said.  “We wanted to do something classy and refined.”

“With our goal of being on the Olympic podium, we want to look a certain way, be dressed a certain way, and feel really sophisticated, even with this blues/rock music,” she added.

The opening level 4 twizzles earned all +3 GOE. The lifts and spin were level 4, with an extended stationary lift deduction. The program received a 107.65 score and a total 178.80.

Hayawek & Baker chose to use Liebestraum for a second season and danced a hypnotizing performance that scored 96.90 and placed them second.

“This is a program that we kept from last year, so we really wanted to go out and give a new energy to it,” Hawayek explained. “It’s a work in progress still, but we want to make sure people can see that we’re growing it and developing the program.”

The 2014 World Junior Champion’s twizzles, lifts, and spins received level 4. Their total score of 153.55 moved them up a spot from the SD to win the silver medal.

Muramoto & Reed scored 91.45 for their exquisite interpretation of a Sakura cherry blossom theme by Ryuichi Sakamoto. The level 4 twizzles and lifts carried them seamlessly across the ice to the sounds of the Japanese music. The program was third. The total 151.45 earned them the bronze medal – their second straight US Classic podium appearance.

The final six included: Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorenson (DEN) fourth, followed by Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus (CAN) fifth and Tina Garabedian (ARM) sixth.

Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge (USA) in their second senior season finished eighth.

“It was a little rough,” Dodge noted.  “We just finished choreographing, re-choreographing and solidifying everything, so I feel like we don’t really have the mileage yet.”

“[There were] a lot of technical mistakes that we typically don’t make,” Biechler added.




The following teams will compete in two weeks at Nebelhorn Trophy (Olympic Qualifying Competition) in Oberstdorf, Germany:

  • Muramoto / Reed (JPN) 
  • Garabedian / Proulx-Senecal (ARM)

Grand Prix Assignments:

  • Hubbell / Donohue (USA) – Skate Canada / NHK Trophy
  • Hayawek / Baker (USA) – Skate Canada / Skate America
  • Muramoto / Reed (JPN) – NHK Trophy / Skate America
  • Fournier Beaudry / Sorensen (DEN) – NHK Trophy
  • Soucisse / Firus (CAN) – Skate Canada
  • Smart / Diaz (ESP) – Skate Canada.

Salt Lake City Novice and Junior Skate Challenge:

  • Julie Biechler competed in the junior short program earlier in the day.
  • “It’s definitely hard, but I train every single day with run-throughs in both dance and freestyle. Today in the short program I went about it like it was another day at the office.”