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Madison Chock, Evan Bates win repeat ice dance gold with a nod to U.S. trailblazers

MONTREAL — When Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto finished second at the 2005 World Championships in Moscow, it was the first time in 20 years a U.S. ice dance team had won a world medal.

Who could have guessed that would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between U.S. ice dancers and the awards podium at global figure skating championships?

Madison Chock and Evan Bates added a new line to that story Saturday, becoming the first U.S. dance couple to win consecutive world titles and giving their country medals in 17 of the last 19 worlds, including at nine in a row.

“I absolutely remember vividly when they (Belbin and Agosto) won that silver medal in 2005,” said Bates, 16 at the time. “It seems like that really was the catalyst for what has become a great two decades of U.S. ice dance. ... They really blazed the trail.”

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Chock, 12 at the time, said it was a trail she began following because her parents were inspired by watching Belbin and Agosto.

“It was actually the year I started ice dance,” she said.

This pair of thirtysomethings, who are to be married in June, now seem inclined to continue two more years in an effort to give Team USA ice dance medals in six consecutive Olympics. They know the next Winter Games are less than two years away.

“We have a lot to evaluate before we jump into another season because it certainly takes a lot of work and a lot of our hearts and a lot of things put on hold,” Chock said.

“(Continuing) isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We’re going to see how we feel at the end of the season and after our wedding. That’s the big thing on my mind.”

Their gold at the Bell Centre owed to the 3.57-point advantage they built in the rhythm dance Friday over Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada, who won the free dance by 1.05. The final scores were 222.20 for Chock and Bates and 219.68 for Gilles and Poirier.

A mistake by Chock and Bates on their opening element, a stationary lift, dropped its value enough to be the mathematical difference in the Canadians’ free dance victory.

The gold was Chock and Bates’ fifth world medal (two gold, one silver, two bronze) since 2015, breaking a tie for most world medals by a U.S. dance team they shared with four other couples, including 2014 Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

“When we trained in Michigan, they were our role models and idols,” Bates said, referring to both Belbin and Agosto and Davis and White.

“Occasionally we’d share the ice with them, and I just remember being in awe. Being a teenager and getting to share the ice with your idols is the most motivating thing you could possibly imagine. So we are certainly grateful to them.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to