Ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue wasted no time, becoming the first skaters to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final by winning the first two Grand Prix events.
The U.S. champions and world silver medalists followed their maiden Skate America title last week by holding on for a Skate Canada victory Saturday, despite being beaten in the free dance.
Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov became the first couple to better Hubbell and Donohue in a program this season but could not make up a 5.83-point deficit from Friday’s rhythm dance.
The Americas won by 5.59 in Laval, Quebec, getting docked a point for an extended lift in an otherwise strong performance.
“We were feeling the two weeks fatigue today,” Hubbell said, according to the International Skating Union. “It was a pretty tough free dance, not without mistakes, but overall we were very pleased with how we were able to face these challenges.”
Hubbell and Donohue, who finished fourth in PyeongChang after he fell in the free dance, reached their fourth straight Grand Prix Final. The event is the most exclusive in the sport, taking the top six per discipline from the fall Grand Prix series.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the only U.S. ice dancers to win the title, doing so five straight times from 2009-13 before becoming the first American ice dance gold medalists in Sochi.
Hubbell and Donohue have yet to earn a Grand Prix Final medal but will surely be favored for the podium this year. That’s in part because Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada are likely done competing and bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are also taking this season off.
Whether Hubbell and Donohue enter the Final in Vancouver as favorites will largely depend on the performances of their training partners, Olympic silver medalists and world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.
Papadakis and Cizeron make their season debut in two weeks at NHK Trophy.
As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season…NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.
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