Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates have begun their journey towards the 2018 Olympics.
The dynamic duo has won two U.S. silver medals, a World Team title, and captured gold at the U.S. Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Here’s more about their partnership on and off the ice:
1. Chock & Bates Announced Their Partnership in 2011
Chock and Bates formed a new on-ice partnership in July 2011. Bates was coming off an Achilles injury, which had sidelined him the previous season.
“When I started skating with Madison, it definitely was different,” said Bates, who skated with Emily Samuelson for 11 years. “When you skate with someone like I did with Emily for so long, it’s like putting on a glove. Now I’m trying on a new glove.
“I understand the amount of work we have ahead of us, but it’s refreshing and exciting.”
Bates explained to Ice Network that he wasn’t looking for a new partner, but his injury changed circumstances. When his Achilles tendon was severed by a blade, he couldn’t skate at all for half the year. After taking a season off recovering, it was difficult for Bates and Samuelson to pick up where they left off.
“I had very high expectations, but when I got back on the ice and tried to put the pieces back together, they didn’t seem to fit the same way,” Bates told Ice Network. “There was no preemptive desire on my part to split. I just think the injury changed things.
“Now I think a fresh start might be best for everyone.”
Chock’s former partner Greg Zuerlein made the decision to retire from competition shortly after the 2011 World Championships, leaving Chock without a partner.
“When Greg decided to quit after worlds, that was actually a surprise for us and for Madi,” her coach, Igor Shpilband told Ice Network. “Madi had a couple of good tryouts before Emily and Evan split up. She took some time and consideration. She skated with Keiffer Hubbell, an excellent tryout, he’s a great skater, and with Collin Brubaker, but she chose to skate with Evan.”
When Bates announced his split from Samuelson, he and Chock decided to try skating together.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Chock said of their partnership. “Evan is very motivating and it’s great because we’ve been friends for a long time. I just feel very lucky.”
In a 2016 article, Bates told Hometown Life their partnership felt meant to be.
“I started skating with Maddy and it was like a new life and a new chapter,” said Bates. “The chemistry was immediate and I started enjoying skating a lot more than I did before. It was serendipitous that it all happened at the same time. There are not a lot of partners to choose from at the top level. To have the opportunity is like life working out the way it is supposed to.”
2. Chock & Bates Are Coached By Igor Shpilband
Bates and Chock were fortunate in finding a new partner at the same rink.
Chock, who had been working with Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva since 2007, was able to continue training under their guidance. Shpilband and Zoueva coached the top-three teams at the 2011 World Championships with Meryl Davis and Charlie White winning the first U.S. ice dancing world title, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir claiming second and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani earning the bronze medal.
Chock and Bates enjoyed four top-five finishes during their first season— starting off with a bronze medal at the 2011 Finlandia Trophy. The duo went on to place fourth at the 2012 Skate Canada International, and fifth at the 2012 Trophée Éric Bompard, and the 2012 U.S. Championships.
When Shpilband and Zueva ended their coaching partnership in 2012, Chock and Bates were the first team to announce that they would continue training with Shpilband.
“Working with Igor has always been invigorating, and I look forward to continuing our skating career under his guidance,” Bates told Ice Network. “He is a brilliant coach, and I am confident that he will do everything to help us achieve our goals on the ice.
3. Chock Designs Their Costumes
Chock’s artistic talents aren’t only limited to the ice. She also designs all of the team’s costumes herself.
The 25-year-old figure skater conceptualizes the outfits, sketches them and then works with a seamstress to create the pieces.
“I have a very wonderful seamstress that can bring my ideas to life,” Chock told U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone.
Although Chock designs the costumes, she does take into account Bates feedback.
“Of course! I consult him, I ask him what he thinks, but usually he’s pretty good about letting me handle it,” she said. “I do value his input though.”
4. Bates Graduated From the University of Michigan
Bates was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He began skating at age four, and trained as a single skater. He tested in freestyle up to the Junior level in USFSA, landing jumps through the double axel.
When he was nine, he began taking lessons from Iouri Tchesnitchenko and Yaroslava Netcheva. He switched to dance shortly after, and competed at the 2000 Junior Nationals with Arielle Chudnofsky.
Bates teamed up with Emily Samuelson in May 2000 following the suggestion of one of their coaches, Gary Clark.
The two competed together from 2000 to 2010. Together, they were the 2009 U.S. silver medalists, 2010 U.S. bronze medalists and 2008 World Junior champions. They represented the United States at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, where they placed 11th.
Bates graduated from Huron High School in 2007 and went on to study at the University of Michigan. Bates earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational studies in 2013— becoming the 52nd member of his family to graduate from Michigan.
The 28-year-old figure-skater comes from an athletic family. His father captained Princeton University’s cross-country team, his aunt was an adult skater and his grandfather, who played basketball for Michigan State, won two gold medals at the Senior Olympics.
5. Chock Is From California
Chock was born in Redondo Beach, California. She attended Novi High School, and had to take some online classes in order to fulfill credits to graduate in 2010.
She is of Chinese-Hawaiian descent on her father’s side, and German, English, Irish, French, and Dutch descent on her mother Barbara Hall’s side. Although neither of her parents come from a figure skating background, her mother is artistic in her own right. Hall released a single back in Jan. 1973 in Japan.
Chock began skating at the age of five, after being inspired while watching it on TV with her parents.
She began by taking learn to skate lessons in freestyle. Although she initially didn’t have an interest in ice dance, it was suggested to her at the age of 12 and she gave it a try. Chock found she enjoyed it, and began ice dancing with Greg Zuerlein at the age of 14.
Together they won the 2009 World Junior, U.S. junior and Junior Grand Prix Final titles. They were also two-time U.S. bronze medalists (as juniors in 2008, as seniors in 2011) and two-time bronze medalists in the Grand Prix Series.