After positioning second last year, Olympic ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue roared back to the top of the podium at the United States Figure Skating Championships this weekend, in part thanks to their flirty rhythm dance set to an assortment of Christina Aguilera’s vocals from the cult-classic movie, Burlesque The sexy, dramatically choreographed program put the set in solid position heading into the free dance, setting the stage for them to declare yet another nationwide title.
Hubbell and Donohue’s rhythm dance included five necessary aspects, together with plenty of fun choreographic touches. The duo attained level 4– the highest level of problem– on 4 out of their 5 main aspects, including a challenging twizzle series (the ice-dancing term for moving, synchronized spins) and the athletic, fast-moving rotational lift at the end of the program. They ended up the rhythm dance with a big rating of 89.66, less than half a point behind their training mates and longtime competitors Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Hubbell and Donohue have a propensity for selecting unusual pieces of music that are recognizable to audiences outside the skating world. Last year, their totally free dance was set to A Star Is Born‘s Oscar-winning score, consisting of the megahit “Shallow.” And this year, they’re pairing this fast-paced, high-energy Burlesque rhythm dance with a lyrical complimentary dance set to “Hallelujah.” Integrated, their Burlesque and “Hallelujah” programs scored them a total of 224.56 points, putting them less than 2 points ahead of Chock and Bates to recover their nationwide title.
Hubbell and Donohue initially won the gold medal at nationals in 2018, just prior to the Pyeongchang Olympics, and eventually placed 4th at the Olympics and 2nd at the World Championships that year. They repeated their nationwide title in 2019, however struggled with weak programs last year, ultimately losing the gold medal to Chock and Bates.