Madison Chock and Evan Bates win US ice dancing age record

Madison Chock and Evan Bates win US ice dancing age record

SAN JOSE, Calif. — They both began the new Olympic cycle as undisputed national leaders in their figure skating disciplines, cementing that status with U.S. titles on Saturday — the fourth for ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Batesthe second for the team of pairs of Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier.

At this point, their respective paths to the 2026 Winter Games appear free and clear of challengers.

The question for the dancers and the couple is how far they intend to go.

“I don’t know what the next four years have in store for us,” Chock said. “But we are committed to each other and to our goals, and we will decide when the time comes.”

Chock, 30, and Bates, 33, engaged in the summer of 2024, have been there for a long time. And their trophy box is full to bursting, with the only shortcomings being a world title and an individual Olympic medal.

They competed together at the senior level at the US Championships for 12 seasons, winning medals in the last 11. They have competed in nine world championships, winning three medals and three Olympics (four for Bates), winning an even-to-be medalist team last year in Beijing.

(The unsolved doping case involving a Russian skater Kamila Valieva delayed the awarding of the 2022 team event medals. Maybe it will become a wedding present for Chock and Bates. Or a fifth anniversary gift…)

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Until this year, Chock and Bates had faced formidable rivals on the national stage – the 2014 Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White; 2018 Olympic bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani; and 2022 Olympic bronze medalists madison hubbell and Zachary Donohue, with whom Chock and Bates traded gold medals in the previous four seasons. All have dropped out of the competition.

On Saturday, they clinched the gold medal by 22.29 points over Caroline Green and Michael Parsonthe largest margin of victory in ice dancing at national championships since 2006. In a discipline where established hierarchy weighs heavily, Chock and Bates find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being on a metaphorically easy path to the top step of the American podium.

“We – at least me – felt nervous today,” Bates said. “We (always) felt obligated to skate well. The lack of perhaps the Hubbell-Donohue back and forth didn’t dull the peculiarity today.

Knierim, 31, and Frazier, 30, have similar longevity at the Nationals, though they only partnered in 2020, winning the U.S. title in their first season together.

Knierim skated to seven national championships with her husband, Chris, winning three titles, Frazier to seven with Denney Harborwinner once.

Knierim and Frazier expected to retire after last season, when they missed nationals because Frazier contracted Covid, but placed sixth at the Olympics and unexpectedly became the first U.S. team to winning a world title as a couple since 1979. Their experiences on the Stars on Ice Tour made them reconsider.

“It made sense on our schedule to move on,” Knierim told me in September. “We had done everything we could in two years.

“Still, I felt like it might be sad or disappointing to end a really talented career together so soon. Being on tour had opened our eyes to how in sync and unity we were on the ice. so there was a bit of curiosity, a feeling of ‘What else are we capable of?’

Their personal situation has changed during this season. Chris Knierim begins work Thursday as the skating director of an ice rink in suburban Chicago, and the Knierims recently purchased a home in that neighborhood.

Knierim and Frazier practiced at an ice rink in Irvine, Calif. Should they decide to continue as competitors after this season, it would almost certainly involve a move to Chicago for Frazier.

Knierim insisted that his home purchase was not an indication of his plans with Frazier.

“Right now we’re staying on course, based in Irvine until the world championships (end of March),” Knierim said ahead of winning his fifth US title.

“We have some changes ahead of us. But I would hate to jump ahead and say yes or no to next season. We learned that last season. »

Frazier spoke on Saturday about reflecting throughout this season on their personal journeys and their partnership, the kind of reflection that often accompanies doing something for the last time.

“We’re just trying to absorb it like it might be your last, but the future is unknown,” Frazier said.

Knierim and Frazier prevailed on Saturday with the largest winning margin, 31.11 points, in the 18 years of using the international judging system at national championships.

They saved several points thanks to his quick thinking.

After Frazier got his hands on the ice on the triple toe loop that was to open a triple-double-double jump combination, Knierim saw his partner was going to follow with a single jump and followed suit. This led to the delightful quirkiness of simple side-by-side toe curls.

Well-executed ones too.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at every Winter Olympics since 1980, is a special contributor to

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