Team USA’s Madison Chock & Evan Bates won their third Skate America title, while Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker of the U.S. took silver.  Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac of Canada won the bronze.  All three teams train at the Ice Academy of Montreal. In the press conference, the athletes commented on how much they enjoyed the fans in Boston and their appreciation of in-person crowds once again.

Rhythm Dance
American teams claimed top two leaderboard spots after the rhythm dance at the Skate America Grand Prix event in Norwood, MA.  

2022 World bronze medalists Madison Chock & Evan Bates held a 3.5 point lead over training mates Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker with Canada’s Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac finishing in third place.

For Chock & Bates, Skate America was their first competition of the season and they unveiled their rhythm dance to remixes of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” to an enthusiastic crowd on Saturday afternoon. The performance was not without mistakes, as an issue with their rotational lift knocked the level from 4 to 2 and Bates’ twizzles also lost one level. Their score of 82.63 was five points off their personal best.

“We really liked the rhythm dance that we created this summer,” Bates said. “We feel like it’s got loads of potential. This is our first outing and we had some technical issues, especially on the lift, but it was still a good start.”

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker finished in second with a score of 79.12. The duo’s performance to Desi Arnaz’s “Cuban Pete”, “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” and “El Cumbanchero” brought a confident, vintage latin vibe to the the ice.  

“We were really happy with our performance today,” Hawayek said. “Definitely still some little technical things that we can really focus in on as we continue as the season goes on, but from a performance standpoint, I think we were both really pleased with the way that we performed and danced the entire program from the beginning.”

After finishing just off the podium at the U.S. Classic, Lauriault & Le Gac set a new personal and season’s best score of 72.12 in the rhythm dance. 

“We were really happy with our performance today and with the preparation from our last competition,” Le Gac said.  “We did what we would we do in practice and we are really happy.”

Just .52 separated the Canadians from Holly Harris & Jason Chan of Australia.

Free Dance
While the top three finished the event in the same position, the free dance placements shook out a little differently. 

Chock & Bates remained in first place overall, but finished second in the free dance. When they didn’t reach the full barrier in their character steps, the element was deemed invalid causing them to lose at least 4 points (including GOE). Their character steps were deemed invalid. The program set to “Film III”, “Les Tectoniques” and “Fem III” by Jorane tells the story of their engagement. 

“Overall, we’re very pleased with how our first competition of the season went,” Chock said. “Performing our free dance was a joy. We had a few technical details that need some work and addressing as far as a missing element, but we will put that element back in and be on our way. The crowd was amazing and we’re so happy to debut our free dance here in Boston.”

Hawayek & Baker’s performance to “Requiem” and “Sofia” by Askjell Solstrand really suited their style and the team’s elements were all level 4 except for their diagonal steps (level 3), which resulted in the team finishing with a technical score nearly five points higher than Chock & Bates. 

“We felt very grounded,” Hawayek said. “This season, we are really stepping into a new place where we’re owning what we’re doing and believing that what we are doing is good enough to be the best in the world.”

Though Lauriault & Le Gac have been competing on the Grand Prix series since 2016, they had never won a medal.  The team’s switch from France to Canada in 2020 meant the team was required to sit out a season from international competitions. In their first Grand Prix representing Canada, the team won their first-ever Grand Prix medal – a bronze.  

“This was the first time we were going to a compete with this goal in mind and that was truly a life changing experience because it was something we didn’t believe could happen before,” Lauriault said. “And now we believed it and it happened, so I think it just opened a lot of doors for us. It’s important to believe that’s what we learned here and that’s what we’re going to take from the competition.”

Lauriault & Le Gac also lost points on their character steps, which received no credit.

France’s Loicia Demougeot & Theo Le Mercier rebounded after finishing seventh in the rhythm dance to finish fourth, while Holly Harris & Jason Chan of Australia held on to fifth place.

As they did in the rhythm dance, the audience voiced its displeasure with the marks for Japan’s Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi.  The duo lost points on their character spin, which received negative GOEs and was designated as a fall.