In their first Olympics together, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue missed a medal by one place, as a series of small technical mistakes during the free dance cost the pair a chance at a bronze medal.
Hubbell and Donohue, who took gold at the U.S. Championships in January, began Tuesday in third place after Monday’s short dance portion of the competition at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
However, Hubbell and Donohue could not match the high bar set by France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron and fellow Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani, and finished in fourth place.
Hubbell and Donohue scored 109.94 in the free dance — the fifth-best program of the day — and scored 187.69 overall. As the pair finished its program, Hubbell and Donohue leaned into each other when she whispered, “I’m sorry.”
The performance was not enough to protect a razor-thin lead over the Shibutanis, who earned bronze.
Canadian favorites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated an outstanding program of 122.40 to earn their third gold medal with a total score of 206.07. The podium finish was the fifth Olympic figure skating medal in their careers.
Papadakis and Cizeron finished second to earn silver.
Originally born in Lansing, Hubbell spent part of her childhood in Sylvania. Her parents, Brad and Susan, still reside in the area. She and Donohue now train in Montreal.
The Shibutani siblings skated before Hubbell and Donohue and finished with a score of 114.86. The brother and sister duo finished with a capable run, which briefly put them in first place with an overall score of 192.59.
Papadakis and Cizeron were next, and their session blew away the judges and earned a rousing ovation from the crowd, plus a score of 123.35, the highest ranked of the day, for an overall total of 205.28
The French pairing’s program looked as if it might be enough for gold, but Virtue and Moir did enough to protect their lead, which was almost two points after the short dance. The Canadians needed 121.62 to finish atop the podium and came through with nearly a point to spare, winning by .79 points with a total of 206.07.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia finished fifth with a total score of 186.92, while the Italian pairing of Anna Cappelini and Luca Lanote ended up sixth at 184.91.
Hubbell and Donohue came in to the second round in good shape after performing a clean routine in the short dance, scoring 77.75 with the judges to place them in position for a medal.
The mark put them in third by a narrow margin, just .02 points ahead of the Shibutanis, who came in at 77.73 after the short dance.
But Virtue and Moir took a commanding lead after the short dance with a nearly perfect program, during which they set a world record with a score of 83.67.
The Canadian pairing has been a force in ice dancing for three Olympic cycles. They won the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, then followed with a silver in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
Virtue and Moir also have earned seven medals at the World Championships since 2008, which included gold medals in 2010, 2012, and after taking a two-year break after the Sochi Games, won again in 2017.
Skating in their first Olympics, Papadakis and Cizeron were on the short list of gold medal contenders going into the Games.The French pairing medaled in three consecutive World Championships and won gold in 2015 and 2016 — but their Olympic debut almost began with disaster.
Just seconds into their routine, Papadakis’ costume came unhooked near the neck, which she said afterward she felt immediately.
Despite the mishap — and the clear distraction it provided to Papadakis and Cizeron — the French duo recovered to skate a quality program, and Papadakis’ costume made it through the short dance.
“It was pretty distracting, kind of my worst nightmare happening at the Olympics,” Papadakis told the media Monday. “I told myself I don’t have a choice. I have to keep going and that’s what we did.”
Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates entered the day in seventh place, and lost any slim hopes of winning a medal when they fell to the ice during the free dance. They scored a 100.13 in the second round and finished the competition in ninth with 175.58 points.
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