By Scott Mammoser, Team FSO contributing writer
Photos by Robin Ritoss
SAITAMA, JAPAN — Madison Chock and Evan Bates have been a staple at the World Championships for the past decade, always a step or two behind their rivals.
The highly-decorated American ice dancers, competing in their 10th Worlds, finally struck gold on Saturday in Saitama, Japan, with their “Souffrance” and “Les Tectoniques” program. The 226.01 total points were a personal high, even with a mild fall from Chock in the free dance. Luckily, it was not on an element, and Bates covered it up well, so the effects were minimal.
“This has been the goal for us for such a long time, and it was such an experience here in Saitama with the crowd supporting us,” Chock said after the win. “It was incredible. This season has certainly unfolded in many unexpected ways, but all paths have led to this moment. We learned a lot about ourselves and what we want to achieve. We had to dig very, very deep many times, but I know we would not be sitting here without all this experience.”
The 30-year-old Chock and 34-year-old Bates first appeared at Worlds in 2013. At that event in London, Ontario, the only other U.S. ice dance World champions – Meryl Davis and Charlie White – won the second of their two gold medals. Chock and Bates previously had collected three World medals- a silver in 2015 and two bronzes in 2016 and 2022. Bates’ experience on World Championships ice even includes two years with Emily Samuelson in 2009 and 2010, one month after placing 11th in the Vancouver Olympics.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Bates said. “We’ve been pursuing this goal for many years. It was exciting and stressful all at the same time.”
Bates was a World Junior champion with Samuelson in 2008, while Chock won the same event with her former partner, Greg Zuerlein, one year later. Chock and Bates united in 2011 and went on to dance in three Olympics, win four U.S. titles, and earn three gold medals from the Four Continents Championships.
Even with the Russian ban and wave of post-Olympic retirements, their accomplishment is not minimized. Chock and Bates’ marks from Saitama would have narrowly won the silver medal at last year’s Beijing Olympics. It adds to an impressive resume that cements them as one of the all-time great U.S. tandems. And in the era of Deanna Stellato-Dudek, who knows what the future holds.
The Italian team of Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri won silver in Saitama with 219.85 points, and the Canadian team of Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier won bronze with 217.88. Gilles and Poirier also won bronze two years ago, while Guignard and Fabbri improved on last year’s fourth-place finish for their first World medals.
“This medal means so much,” Fabbri said. “It is an incredible reward for many years of hard work, difficult moments, ups and downs. We skated with our hearts today. I still can’t believe we got the silver medal.”
Other top performers were Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson from Great Britain in fourth and Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen in fifth. Team USA’s Caroline Green and Michael Parsons finished in sixth place in their Worlds debut, while fellow Americans, Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko, who also competed in their first World championships placed 10th.