The dream has come true for American ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. The duo won bronze in the ice dance at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, as well as silver in the team event.
The medals complete a decade of partnership that is coming to an end: last October, Hubbell and Donohue announced that they would retire from competitive figure skating after the 2022 World Figure Skating Championships in Montpellier, France.
Hubbell and Donohue’s careers have taken them all over the world, competing for the United States and winning several national and international competitions.
But one city serves as both a starting point and a constant on their journey to the pinnacle of the figure skating world: Lansing, Michigan.
Hubbell and Donohue don’t just represent Team USA: they’re also members of the Lansing Skating Club. While Donohue joined LSC after being associated with Hubbell for a few years, Hubbell started her career – and is now ending it – with the club.
“It’s no surprise that she’s had all the success she has, and it’s been fun watching her grow and mature and do what she does…we’re super proud of her,” said Kirsten Miller-Zisholz, an LSC coach who taught Hubbell freestyle when she was younger.
Hubbell joined LSC at age 5 as part of their “learn to skate” program; she wanted to be like Kristi Yamaguchi, two-time world figure skating champion and Olympic gold medalist. At age 8, she started ice dancing with Nicholas Donohue (no relation to Zach) before being paired up with her brother, Keiffer. When Hubbell was in college, his family moved to Ann Arbor, representing LSC for a bit longer before moving to the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club. About a decade later, the Hubbells began training with former Olympian Pasquale Camerlengo and the Detroit Skating Club.
Hubbell teamed up with Donohue after splitting with Keiffer in 2011. The two stayed with the Detroit Skating Club for a few years before moving to Montreal to continue training. But moving posed a problem: To skate for Team USA, you need a membership, which is usually provided by a local US club (Hubbell and Donohue theoretically could have been independent members). They needed a club that would give them memberships and the freedom to train elsewhere.
“Detroit (Skating Club) didn’t want them to be members,” said Heather Cook, a family friend of the Hubbells. “They could have gone (anywhere)… there are huge clubs that like to have that international recognition, but Madison wanted to go back to where she started. And Zach didn’t care, so she and Zach became members of the Lansing Skating Club.
Staff and club members appreciate Hubbell and Donohue’s portrayal, and the pair serve as an inspiration within the organization. They are highly respected for their ability and status as successful representatives of the program. And Hubbell’s status as a Lansing native shows members that success can come from anywhere, even from home.
“Everyone in the rink knows who Madison and Zach are and is always thrilled to cheer them on (and) see how they’re doing in all of their competitions around the world,” Miller-Zisholz said. “We’re always looking for role models, and I feel like the kids…it makes it more real that this is a possibility for them.”
The club finds small ways to support Hubbell and Donohue at competitions and events. LSC posts regularly on its website and social pages to celebrate Hubbell and Donohue for their recent successes. During the Olympics, members made signs supporting Hubbell and Donohue, along with the rest of Team USA, to hang around the rink. LSC also held a watch party to cheer on Hubbell and Donohue during their medal-winning free dance routine on Feb. 13, but it was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Hubbell and Donohue also found opportunities to support the club, despite their schedules. They were guest coaches for LSC in 2014 and 2015 as part of the ‘Grassroots to Champions’ summer programme.
In some ways, Hubbell and Donohue are the latest in a long line of successful LSC skaters: US national medalists such as Mary Karen Campbell and Alice Cook represented the club. The first female president of the United States Figure Skating Association, Claire Ferguson, was a member of the LSC. Although not an official member, 1960 Olympic gold medalist and multiple United States and world champion Carol Heiss Jenkins often worked with the LSC during the summers when the club was based at the venue. Michigan State Demonstration.
Hubbell and Donohue are last, yes, but certainly not least: they are the first LSC representatives at the Olympics in a few decades, and they are the first LSC skaters to win Olympic medals.
“We’re proud of our facility and we’re proud of the kids that we’ve been able to produce maybe not 100 percent from our facility, but give them their debut,” Miller-Zisholz said.
Winning medals in Beijing was a dream come true for the pair; for Hubbell, it was the realization of a dream that began on Lake Lansing Road nearly 25 years before.
“She had the dream at the Lansing Skating Club,” Cook said. “She wanted to finish her dream there, go to the Olympics, represent the Lansing Skating Club.”