Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue leave a distinct impression with their charisma, dynamism and emotional expressiveness. The duo has established themselves on the international ice dance scene in just three years together.
They have gained respect for their determination to constantly bring new style and themes to their free dance programs.
“I absolutely hate to repeat,” said Donohue. “I always want to come up with something new. I want to find a new way of interpreting.
“Every year, we’ve tried to think, ‘What’s a different way of getting from point A to point B? How can we make this unique?’ I think we’ve found our niche in that. We’re always looking to improve, of course, and get our technique better, but we’re really trying to push the boundaries.”
Hubbell and Donohue both began as free skaters and pursued different paths into ice dancing.
Hubbell had always been fascinated by pairs skating, but realized she was going to be too tall for that. At age nine, she started ice dancing and soon teamed up with her older brother, Keiffer.
“I was drawn to the drama of dance—being able to portray stories and exciting roles,” she said. “The costumes were more elaborate. It fulfilled my need for drama—being the only girl in my family. That’s what originally sucked me in and has kept me there for the last 15 years.”
Donohue found his way into ice dance somewhat accidently. A huge growth spurt in his teens took him off the ice for a while. When he returned, he decided to give ice dance a try. It seemed natural, as he’d always excelled at choreography and footwork.
Madison and Keiffer Hubbell were U.S. Junior Ice Dance Champions, competed twice at the World Junior Championships and won the pewter medal at the U.S. Championships in seniors before Keiffer called it quits. Donohue won two bronze medals in U.S. Junior Ice Dance with Piper Gilles and also competed at the World Junior Championships. He then teamed with Alissandra Aronow for one season in seniors.
Hubbell and Donohue didn’t really have a try-out. Former competitors, they had to be encouraged to get on the ice together and just skate around. After about hour it was a done deal. Four months later, they won the prestigious Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany. That first season—in which they finished third at the U.S. Championships and 10th at the World Championships—was a whirlwind.
Donohue said much of it was a blur, but they realized how fast they were progressing and the great chemistry they had. Their potential seemed limitless.
Helping them explore and evolve that potential are coaches Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova. Camerlengo pushes them to explore their creativity and artistry.
“It’s a collaboration,” Hubbell said. “Pasquale doesn’t just choreograph and give us our steps. He gives us a loose frame and we create something and he tells us what it is we’re doing that he likes.
“We have a lot of fun being creative and putting our own imprints on the programs,” she added. “We like different styles and different types of movement, and we really want to explore all of that. We like to perform and create even more than we like the competitive side.”
Their perseverance and commitment were tested during the 2013-14 season as Hubbell battled a hip injury. They tried to push through the injury in the hope of making the U.S. Olympic team. After finishing fourth at the U.S. Championships and being named first alternates, they ended their season on an up note, winning the ISU Four Continents Championships. Shortly after, Hubbell had surgery and is now healed. She greatly appreciates how supportive Donohue was throughout the process.
In April 2015, Hubbell & Donohue announced they have officially commenced training with Marie France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon at the Gadbois Centre in Montreal, Quebec. “We are so excited to start this new chapter in our career,” Hubbell said. “We have admired Marie-France and Patrice’s skating for a long time and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to learn from them.”
A love of performing will shine through whenever they skate.
“If you’re only focused on the end goal, you don’t get a chance to enjoy the process and make memories along the way,” said Donohue. “Everyone, of course, dreams of the Olympics. Madi and I want to experience all that goes into the process and every step of the way. It really is a journey for us.”
Hubbell is a jewelry lover—not just collecting, but also making. “It’s something my mom and I did together when I was growing up,” she said. “Now, it’s something my brother and I do together. We’re exploring different things, like wire wrapping.”
Donohue is an avid car lover. “I’m generally doing whatever I can afford to my car,” he said. “Or I’m playing guitar. I’m also a slight nerd. I do enjoy my video games.”
You can follow them on Twitter @MadiHubbell and @ZachTDonohue and get the latest news on their Web site: http://hubbell-donohue.com/
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