Madison Chuck and Evan Bates win the record-breaking American Ice Dancing title

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Both began the new Olympic cycle as the undisputed national leaders in their figure skating disciplines, cementing that status with Saturday’s US titles — fourth for ice dancers. Madison Chuck And Evan Batesand the second for the duo team consisting of Alexa Knierim And Brandon Fraser.

At this point, their paths to the 2026 Winter Games appear devoid of any competitors.

The question for the dancers and the pair is how far they intend to go this way.

“I don’t know what the next four years will hold,” Chuck said. “But we are committed to each other and to our goals, and we will decide when the time is right.”

Chuck, 30, and Bates, 33, were engaged to be married in the summer of 2024, at that long. Their trophy portfolio is full to the gills, the only gaps being the world title and individual Olympic medal.

Together, they’ve competed at the senior level at the U.S. Championships for 12 seasons, winning medals the last 11. They’ve competed in nine World Championships, won three medals, three Olympics (four for Bates), and won a post-award team medal last year in Beijing.

(Unsolved doping case involving a Russian skater Kamila Valieva The awarding of the 2022 team event medals has been delayed. Perhaps it will become a wedding gift for Chock and Bates. Or a fifth anniversary gift…)

Snowboarding Nationals: Complete scores | broadcast schedule

Until this year, Chock and Bates faced formidable rivals on the national scene – the 2014 Olympic champions Meryl Davis And Charlie White; 2018 Olympic bronze medalists Maya Shibutani And Alex Shibutani; and 2022 Olympic Bronze Medalists Madison Hubbell And Zachary Donohue, with whom Chuck and Bates have traded gold medals over the previous four seasons. They have all retired from competition.

On Saturday, they cruised to the gold medal by 22.29 points Caroline Green And Michael Parsonsthe largest margin of victory for the ice dancing Nationals since 2006. In a system where static hierarchies weigh heavily, Chock and Bates find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being on a metaphorically easy street to the highest rung on the American podium.

“We were – at least – nervous today,” Bates said. “(We still) feel compelled to skate well. Not having a Hubbell-Donohue back-and-forth probably didn’t mitigate the major today.”

Knierim, 31, and Frazier, 30, have similar longevity at Nationals, even if they don’t team up until 2020, capturing the US title in their first season together.

Knierim has skated to seven Nationals with her husband, Chris, winning three titles, and Frazier seven Haven Dennywinning once.

Knierim and Frazier had expected their retirement after last season, when their compatriots missed them due to Frazier contracting Covid but went on to finish sixth at the Olympics and unexpectedly became the first American team to win a double world title since 1979. Their experiences on the stars on the ice tour led them to reconsider. .

“It made sense for our schedule going forward,” Knirim told me in September. “We did everything we could in two years.

Still, I felt it might be sad or disappointing to end a really talented career together so soon. Being on tour opened our eyes to how synchronized and united we were on the ice. So there was a little bit of curiosity, a sense of ‘what else can we do?'”

Their personal circumstances changed during this season. Chris Knierim starts working Thursday as a skating manager at a skating rink in suburban Chicago, and the Knierim family recently bought a home in that area.

Knierim and Frasier were practicing at a skating rink in Irvine, California. If they decide to continue as competitors after this season, it will almost certainly entail moving to Chicago for Frazier.

Kinnerim insisted that the purchase of her home was not indicative of her plans with Frazier.

“Right now, we’re on the track, and we’re based in Irvine during the World Championships (in late March),” Kinnerim said before winning her fifth American title.

“We have some changes ahead of us. But I hate jumping in and saying yes or no to next season. We learned that last season.”

Frazier spoke on Saturday about reflecting throughout this season on their personal journeys and partnership, the kind of reflection that often accompanies doing something for the last time.

“We’re just trying to suck it up like it might be the last, but the future is unknown,” Frazier said.

Knierim and Frazier won Saturday by the largest winning margin, 31.11 points, in the 18 years that the international arbitration system has been used on the Nationals.

They held several points because of her quick thinking.

After Frazier placed his hand on the ice on the triple toe loop that was supposed to open a combination of the double and double double jump, Knierim saw that her partner would follow with just one jump and followed. This led to the delightful oddity of the one toe loops side by side.

They were executed nicely as well.

Philip Hirsch, who has covered snowboarding at every Winter Olympics since 1980, is a special contributor to

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