Madison Chock, Evan Bates win fifth U.S. ice dance title amid illness
An ill Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their fifth U.S. ice dance title.
Chock and Bates, reigning world champions and undefeated since the start of 2023, totaled 215.92 points between Thursday’s rhythm dance and Saturday’s free dance in Columbus, Ohio.
Chock developed flu-like symptoms, including a fever, on Friday. Bates felt the same on Saturday, if not earlier. They made a final decision to compete after their warm-up, about a half-hour before their free dance.
Bates lost his balance on their first two twizzles, and they ended up with the second-best free dance score behind Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko. Still, their lead from the rhythm dance was enough for them to prevail by 5.88 points overall.
“It was really thanks to Madi,” Bates said on NBC Sports. “I was really on the fence about whether I wanted to do it today, to be honest, but she’s so tough and so strong. She wasn’t feeling well, either. We just put our will power together and gutted through it and thought, you know what, if this is our last nationals, we definitely want to go out there and perform.”
Chock, 31, and Bates, 34, have been taking a season-by-season approach to competing and have not yet committed to making a 2026 Olympic run. They are getting married in June.
Last year, Chock and Bates won by 22.29 points, the largest margin since ice dance changed from three programs to two in 2011.
Chock and Bates were already the oldest U.S. ice dance champions in at least 50 years from their 2023 title. Only 2014 Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White have won more U.S. ice dance titles (six).
Chock and Bates made more longevity history this year with their 12th consecutive podium together, matching the U.S. record streak for any discipline shared by Michelle Kwan and Theresa Weld Blanchard and Nathaniel Niles, a pairs’ team from the 1910s and ‘20s.
Chock and Bates are expected to lead the three-couple U.S. ice dance team into March’s worlds, where they would defend their title at their training base of Montreal.
Later Saturday, Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea won a pairs’ competition that lacked the top two U.S. teams from last season.
Kam and O’Shea inherited the lead after Emily Chan and Spencer Howe withdrew shortly after topping Thursday’s short program. They held on to win by the closest margin in U.S. pairs in 17 years.
Chan and Howe, last year’s silver medalists, are working their way back after Chan underwent right shoulder labrum surgery in May and are petitioning for one of three pairs’ spots on the world team.
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, last year’s U.S. champions and the 2022 World champions, stepped away from competition after last season. Frazier is at nationals as a coach.
Nationals finish Sunday with the men’s free skate, live on NBC, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock for subscribers.