U.S. ice dance champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates withdrew from Skate America in two weeks, citing a focus on the U.S. Championships in January.
“Our training and preparation have been affected by the pandemic,” Chock and Bates said in a statement through U.S. Figure Skating.
Chock and Bates won their first national title in five years last January. They won back-to-back Skate Americas in 2014 and 2015, seasons in which they earned world championships silver and bronze medals.
The rest of the top U.S. dance couples are entered in Skate America, given this season’s Grand Prix circuit is restricting athletes to their home competitions.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue go for a third straight title. American couples won the last 11 straight Skate America crowns.
The Russian pairs’ team of Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov previously withdrew from Skate America, where they would have been the favorites against a field of U.S. teams.
Morozov reportedly contracted and recovered from the coronavirus. Tarasova and Morozov, world silver medalists, were entered in Skate America because they typically train in Florida.
Czech Michal Brezina, the 2011 Skate America winner, also withdrew. Brezina took a distant silver behind Nathan Chen at Skate America in 2018. Chen is an overwhelming favorite to win a fourth straight Skate America in Las Vegas in two weeks.
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