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USA’s Hubbell and Donohue win Skate America ice dance

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue pose for a photo with the U.S. flag after they won the gold medal in ice dance at Skate America, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Everett, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue pose for a photo with the U.S. flag after they won the gold medal in ice dance at Skate America, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Everett, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Associated Press

EVERETT, Wash. – Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue had always thought about incorporating some elements of “Romeo and Juliet” into their ice dance routine.

At the suggestion of their coach, they decided to build their whole routine around it for the new season.

Turned out to be a winning decision.

World silver medalists Hubbell and Donohue of the United States broke the 200-point total for the first time in their long career together and captured the gold medal at Skate America on Sunday.

Hubbell and Donohue finished with 200.82 points: 78.43 for Saturday’s rhythm dance and another 122.39 for Sunday’s free dance. The previous best for the two Americans, who have been skating together since 2011, are defending U.S. champions and competed at the Pyeongchang Olympics, was 197.42 at last month’s U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City, which they won for the fourth year in a row.

“I think there have been a million beautiful `Romeo and Juliet’ interpretations,” Hubbell said. “But I think there’s something special Zach and I can bring to this with the raw emotion and absolute intensity that goes into dying for the person you love. So we’ll see where it goes”

Later Sunday, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto went 1-2 in the ladies competition for the second straight year.

Miyahara, last season’s bronze medalist at Worlds and fourth at the Olympics, totaled 219.71 points. That included the top short program mark on Saturday (73.86) and Sunday’s high mark in the free skate (145.85). Sakamoto finished with 213.90 points.

Newcomer Sofia Samudurova of Russia earned bronze with 198.70. U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, fifth after the short program, moved up to fourth with a solid free skate, and totaled 192.89.

Coming into the 2018-19 schedule, Hubbell and Donohue were open to ideas – any ideas – on what to select in building their new ice dance routine.

“We were actually struggling to find music after a season when we put so much energy mentally and physically into the Olympic season,” Donohue said. “We had nothing, no idea, no guidelines what we wanted to skate with. It was Maddie who has always loved this song. We’ve tried to fit things before that had something to do with `Romeo and Juliet.’

“Then it was our coach (Romain Haguenauer) who said, `Why don’t you just do `Romeo and Juliet?’ “

They did, and the American champions won the gold going away.

Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy, second in the rhythm dance, secured the silver, finishing with 192.30 points after their second-place free dance performance.

The Russian duo of Tiffani Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro followed up their third-place performance Saturday by finishing third in the free dance to bag the bronze with 181.38

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter of the U.S. placed fourth, just barely behind Zagorski and Guerreiro, with 180.57.

Hubbell and Donohue came into the free dance with a three-point lead on Guignard and Fabbri, and were the next-to-last performers. But when their 200.82 total went up, they effectively closed the door on any chance Guignard and Fabbri might have had to catch up with them, even though the Italians were last up on the ice.

“It’s great to hit another milestone with the new elements and additions,” Hubbell said. “I don’t know how that compares, but we don’t compare too much. We have such an amazing team in Montreal (where they train) – they figure out all of that stuff, and we just focus on skating.”

Miyahara was nearly flawless in her routine, perfomed to “Invierno Porteno,” and executed several combination jumps: a triple lutz-triple toe loop, a double axel-triple toe loop, and, right near the end, a triple flip-double toe loop-double loop.

“I was really nervous until the very, very end because I have jumps until the end,” Miyahara said. “But when I landed the flip, I was very happy.

“I skated clean. But I would like to be more confident for the next competition.”

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