SALT LAKE CITY — Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won the ice dance competition at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic on Saturday at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex, posting a score of 108.65 in Saturday’s free dance to go with the 71.15 they earned in Friday’s short dance.
Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker of the United States earned a score of 96.90 in the free dance to edge Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed for second place.
Saturday’s score in the free dance was the best for Hubbell and Donohue in international competition. With the Olympics looming in February in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the pair viewed the win in Salt Lake City as a nice stepping stone.
"Everything’s going to have to be more than a new personal best," Donohue said.
Hubbell and Donohue finished sixth in the world in 2016 and have won the bronze medal at the U.S. Championships four times. Coming into Saturday’s free dance, they were focused on strong technique and not allowing their emotions to get the best of them on the ice.
"I think that naturally, we’re very emotional competitors, and we really go on feeling, and it can be a riskier way to skate," Hubbell said, alluding to the pair’s fall at the 2016 world championships that knocked them out of medal contention. "It’s easy to get wrapped up in our sport in the artistic side and the storytelling side, and most of the points are going to come from the technical component, and that’s where we’ve kind of hurt ourselves in the past: the technical mistakes. Our goal this season is to be really technically consistent."
Julia Biechler and Damian Dodge of the United States finished eighth.
Japan’s Marin Honda won the ladies’ title with a strong performance in Saturday’s free skate, posting a score of 131.52 to outdistance American competitors Karen Chen and Mirai Nagasu. Honda, 16, was competing in her first senior event outside of Japan and had to adjust to Salt Lake City’s altitude to win.
"I wasn’t expecting the high altitude [to affect me like it did], but I still did everything I was hoping for, so I’m quite comfortable and happy," Honda said.
Nagasu scored 119.73 points in the free skate to edge Chen for second place.
"I really felt the crowd support, and overall, I’m really happy with how I skated," Nagasu said. "I’m glad I made a few mistakes because I have a lot to work on going into my next event, the Japan Open or the Challenger Series if I get another one."
Chen, who came into Saturday’s free skate 0.72 points behind Honda, fell once and had an additional stumble en route to a score of 116.14 that dropped her into third place.
"She just has this really beautiful, elegant flow on the ice," Chen said of Honda. "She’s really, really amazing. Everything just seems so effortless and so easy. I know it’s not easy to go out there because I’m trying to do the same thing myself."
American Paige Rydberg finished ninth.