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Meryl Davis+Charlie White (USA) won four Skate America gold medals from 2010 – 2013, but the champions are on sabbatical for the current season and could not defend their title.

To maintain the USA winning streak, Madison Chock+Evan Bates or Maia Shibutani+Alex Shibutani needed to step up and take home gold.

The scene was set for suburban Chicago on Sunday afternoon, October 26, 2014. The audience anxiously awaited the showdown between two Michigan teams that once shared the same coaches and same training facility.

After the free skate, Chock+Bates had won gold; the Shibutanis had won silver. The streak was in tact, and history was made. They became the first US ice dance teams to go 1-2 in the history of the ISU Grand Prix Series.

Madison Chock+Evan Bates (USA) won both their programs en route to claiming the first ice dance gold medal of the 2014 Grand Prix season. They used Level4 lifts, twizzles and spins to show off the choreography.

“We’re trying to do a more modern interpretation of An American in Paris, put our own spin on it as if the movie had been remade and set in 2014,” explained Chock.

The Michigan based team was excited after the performance.

“Tonight was electric. The audience was awesome. It felt like Christmas came early,” beamed Bates.

“We had a pretty good skate, but can definitely improve on it, Looking back on where we were just a few weeks ago in Germany, this is definitely an improvement, so we’re happy,” added the gold medalist.

The reining US silver medalists had personal best scores in all areas:

Short – 68.96, Free – 102.07, Total – 171.03.

Maia Shibutani+Alex Shibutani (USA), winners of the silver medal, took a more classical approach with this season’s free dance.  Last year it was Michael Jackson – this year it’s Strauss.

“The program is extremely musical; it highlights our strong skating skills, and how we can perform and connect with the audience,” explained Maia.  “We want to show dance in its purest form,” added Alex.

The lifts were Level4, but the twizzles and diagonal step sequence were Level3, while the spin and circular step sequence were Level2.

Alex evaluated their performance. “We will have to go back and look at the score sheet because it seems like we didn’t get all of the levels we were going for. All our elements are designed to get the maximum amount of points.”

The total score was 160.33.

Alexandra Stepanova+Ivan Bukin (RUS) won the bronze medal.  During practice prior to the short dance, the team had a fall and Stepanova slammed into the boards. Bukin did a solo run through the program while she was whisked off to a local hospital, where x-rays were negative.. The gutsy Russian returned for the Short Dance with a knee wrapped, and the team placed 3rd.

“It (the fall) shook us up a little and made us awake. We were busy with my treatment, so there wasn’t time to get nervous,” commented Stepanova after skating with the injury.

The 2013 Junior World Champions skated to the Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby” for their free dance.  Their lifts were Level4.

Their unusual sit-spin twizzles earned only a Level1 and caused a buzz once the protocols were released.  Confusion arose because the team received Level4 for the same twizzles in both programs at the Challengers Series, Finlandia Trophy, two weeks ago.

“We don’t know what went wrong,” Bukin said.  “We are very disappointed with the Level1.  It’s really too bad.”

Irina Zhuk, the team’s coach, commented on the marks. “There is so much talk here about our twizzles in the shoot-the-duck position! Of course, they lost a lot of points because the judges had a problem with the execution, but on the whole they made a splash.”

Ivan Bukin has good ice skating genes.  He is the son of Andrei Bukin, 1988 Olympic dance champion. His mother also competed.

Their total score was 143.67.

The next Grand Prix competitions for the Ice Dancers:

  1. Chock+Bates – Rostelecom Cup
  2. Shibutani+Shibutani – Cup of China
  3. Stepanova+Bukin – Rostelecom Cup

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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