Who are Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue?
Ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue teamed up in 2011 and have affirmed their place in the U.S. with three consecutive national bronze medals. In 2017, they placed fourth at the Four Continents Championships, which acted as a test event for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. They won their first national title in 2018.
Music this season:
- Short dance: "Le Serpent" by Guen, "Cuando Calienta El Sol" by Tayla Ferro, "Sambando (Los Ritmos Calientes)"
- Free dance: "Caught Out in the Rain" by Beth Hart
Hubbell explains their free dance concept: "We were inspired by the era and the atmosphere of the show ‘Suits.’ [Coach] Marie-France (Dubreuil) really loves that show. We wanted Zach very classically dressed and me in an evening gown. We’re portraying two very high-power business people who are flirting, having an affair – they shouldn’t be together, so they’re hiding it for a little while. I become attached to him."
Figure skating beginnings
Hubbell was born on February 24, 1991 in Lansing, Michigan and got her start on the ice at age 5. She first partnered with her one of her older brothers, Keiffer, and won U.S. titles at the juvenile, intermediate, and junior levels. When Keiffer stepped away from the sport, Donohue entered the picture.
Donohue was born January 8, 1991 in Madison, Connecticut and began skating at age 11. He previously was partnered with a few other ice dancers, notably Piper Gilles (who now competes for Canada).
The dance duo got together in 2011, and won a national championships bronze medal after their first full season together in January 2012.
Major competitions/ medals
Four times, the couple has earned bronze medals at the U.S. Championships (2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017). At nationals in 2014, which acted as the Olympic qualifier, the team finished fourth by just over two points and did not earn a trip to Sochi. Instead, they went on to win that year’s Four Continents Championships.
At the 2018 U.S. nationals, they won their first national title.
They have made three consecutive world championships appearances. In 2015, Hubbell and Donohue finished 10th and in 2016 they finished in sixth.
At the 2017 edition, things looked great for the team after the short dance. They sat in third, behind only their Montreal training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (2010 gold medalists from Canada) and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (two-time world champions representing France). They were the highest-ranked U.S. dance team, ahead of rivals Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates. However, uncharacteristic mistakes in their free dance dropped the team to ninth overall.
Hubbell and Donohue’s momentum shifted before start of the 2016-17 season, when they left their Michigan-based training facilities and moved to Montreal. They train with Virtue and Moir as well as Papadakis and Cizeron, calling their friendship and training set-up very motivating.
One specific improvement came after their coaches, Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon (2006 and 2007 Worlds silver medalists from Canada), pointed out they can use their height to their advantage. Donohue is quick to credit the coaches with drawing out their height and using it as a strength, rather than trying to mask it.
Together, Hubbell, who stands 5-foot-8, and Donohue, who is 6-2, they are one of the tallest ice dance teams in the world. In fact, Hubbell knew by age 9 she would be too tall for pairs skating, so she made the move to ice dance.
While they each have had various partners before teaming up, Hubbell and Donohue both acknowledge there is something different and special about their dynamic. Hubbell says they were “a bundle of chemistry from the start,” while Donohue refers to themselves as “magic on the ice” when they first got together.
Hubbell and Donohue will make their Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
Outside the rink
Hubbell prefers drinks “with texture” to any others: bubble tea and aloe juice with pulp are among her favorites. Together with her mom, a seamstress, she creates the costumes that she and Donohue wear on the ice. She also has a passion for jewelry making, cooking/baking, and playing tennis.
Donohue describes himself as “slightly a nerd,” citing his love of video games. He also enjoys tinkering around with his car and motorcycles, and anything that involves dance, including music and choreography. One day, he wants to own a skating school and do choreography for younger skaters.