Olympic ice dancers Chock, Bates plot comeback in Detroit

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who lived and trained in Michigan until this season, said Friday they will increasingly participate in international events to prepare for the 2020 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Detroit — Olympic ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates will launch their comeback during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Little Caesars Arena in January.

Chock and Bates, who lived and trained in Michigan until this season, said Friday they will increasingly participate in international events to prepare for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

“This is a year of massive change for us,” said Bates, 30, who had always lived in Michigan until the skaters changed coaches this season.

“We moved to Montreal, new trainers, a completely different approach and we feel like this is what we needed for the next four-year cycle to really become reinvigorated, to get the spark back in our skating.”

When the national championships return to the figure skating hub of Metro Detroit for the first time since 1994, Chock and Bates will skate in the free dance to Michael Bublé’s version of “Jailhouse Rock,” popularized by Elvis Presley, and to Presley’s composition “Fever.” 

“We have all new material and all new coaches,” said Chock, who lived in Novi for several years while training with the coach Igor Shpilband at the Novi Ice Arena.

They had also previously trained in Canton at the Arctic Edge with Shpilband and Marina Zueva, who coached Merle Davis and Charlie White, the 2014 Olympic gold medalists in ice dancing.

“We moved to Montreal this year,” said Chock, a 26-year-old native of California. “So, everything’s all new stuff.”

Their new coaches, Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer, have a growing stable of international talent.

The career transition for Chock and Bates, who began a romantic relationship in 2016 five years after skating together, is a bit delayed.

Since the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Chock had surgery to repair an ankle injury that daunted them at the games.

The 26-year-old California native chipped some fragments off a bone in her ankle before the start of last season, and they floated there.

“This past April, I had them removed,” Chock said. “So, I’m in my recovery process, getting back to training and happy to be back out on the ice. I’m very excited.

“It’s been about three months.

“It’s crazy,” she said, stopping to assess the passing of time. “It’s like the whole season.

“Right now, I’m back to full functioning.”

Bates, who lived in Northville and Ann Arbor, said he did some training while Chock convalesced.

The University of Michigan graduate views the pause as advantageous.

“We took a healthy break after PyeongChang,” he said. “It was a really difficult year.”

They had grappled with her injury for most of last season; skating well, albeit carefully.

But warming up for the short dance in the Olympics, they reinjured the ankle with the same momentary bobble on the same maneuver during which the original trauma occurred.

“Maddy pretty much trained and competed injured all year,” Bates said.

“So, when the season was over we both needed to take a mental break. Maddy needed the physical break, as well.”

At PyeongChang, they not only skated through Chock’s injury — “She was amazing!” Bates said — they redeemed a difficult moment so nobly, it became a prominent image of the games.

“We were skating well and doing fine and it was just kind a freak accident and a fluke,” Chock said, adding that her injury played no role during a fall in the free dance.

“We’d never made that mistake before. It was a really consistent element for us and all of a sudden, we were flat on the ice.”

But, the Olympic athletes honored their craft and jumped right back into it.

“In training, when we fall, we bounce back up,” Bates said. “We get back into the program, no matter what. And, no one is in the stands watching. Just our coaches.

“So that, when that moment happens, if it happens, on a big stage, without even thinking we just got up.

“We knew our Olympic medal hopes were crushed, but we had a lot to be proud of. We finished well and, I think, handled the moment well.

“And, we heard from a lot of people that the way we responded actually touched people in a way that was not what we expected that was not what we had set out to do. But that, kind of serendipitously, almost became more powerful.”

U.S. Figure Skating Championships

When: Jan. 18-27

Where: All junior and championship-level events at Little Caesars Arena Jan. 22-27. All novice, intermediate and juvenile events at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills Jan. 18-22.

Tickets: Single-session tickets (starting at $20) can be purchased at 2019USChampionships.com, 313Presents.com, Little Caesars Arena box office and Ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets by phone, call (800) 745-3000. All-session tickets and weekend packages are also available.

Information: 2019USChampionships.com