Hear from Michigan-linked Olympic figure skaters ahead of this year’s Winter Games

DETROIT – The Winter Olympics are just a few weeks away and Detroit has long been the center of American figure skating.

While much of the roster has recently moved to Montreal, there are still strong ties to Michigan. There are two pairs of veterans who are hoping for a return to Olympic commitment.

Of all the things that can happen in an Olympiad, of all the possible outcomes – after four years of training and dreaming – some suggest that fourth place is the hardest. Fourth is so impressive, and yet it’s a step of the podium.

“The last game we had factors that were either distractions or disappointments,” said US team ice dancer Zach Donohue. “We were, you know, in a very different mindset than we’re in now, and I think our headspace is a lot healthier. “

Healthier is an interesting word to use amid the global pandemic, which has left skaters aware that almost any event can be called off at any time. The Hubbell and Donohue team know this is their last lap.

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Read: Metro Detroit residents prepare for the Winter Olympics

After more than a decade of spinning around the ice together, 2022 marks the end of a long and beautiful dance.

This whole experience led to an important revelation. It is not the medals or the titles that they will miss. This is the moment when everything comes together on a thin layer of ice.

“You know, in a year of high pressure it’s really easy to get carried away with our goals and want to be on the Olympic podium,” said US team ice dancer Madison Hubbell. “We take this record with us every day, but when it comes time to play, it’s the special minutes that we can’t get back.”

They don’t have to look far on the ice to find their main American rivals.

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While Hubbell and Donohue are the reigning US champions, Madison Chock and Evan Bates are in the running to become the first US ice dance team to qualify for three Olympics.

A couple, on and off the ice, also feel better than ever.

“Completely different from what we were four years ago,” said Chock. “When we get into the games, our mindset is different. We are definitely the strongest we have ever been mentally, physically and together as a couple.

Bates can make history on two fronts.

After qualifying for the first time with Emily Samuelson, he is trying to become the first American skater of all disciplines to participate in four Olympic games.

But even for him, things look very new right now.

“Last week in Finland we had an audience, and it was really great fun to skate again for a live audience,” said Bates. “We’re going to be at skate America this week with a live audience, and my god I’m just so thankful for what we’ve got.”

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American athletes are going to be faced with a ton of questions about the setting for the Beijing games. Human rights activists have called on the United States to boycott a Chinese Olympiad.

Bates believes human rights issues are best heard if the athletes are there.

“I think boycotting the games would be to miss the opportunity to shed some light on this topic,” Bates said. “We are here and we will feel the question. To talk about the importance of coming together and representing the Olympic movement, which is above all a question of unity and humanity. “

Both ice dance teams have ties to Michigan. Hubbell is from Lansing and Bates is from Ann Arbor. Both teams trained in the Detroit metro area before moving to Montreal to train there.

See: Full coverage of the Olympic Games

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