Americans Chock and Bates win ice dancing at Four Continents

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The American ice dance duo of Madison Chock and Evan Bates gained huge momentum with the World Championships a month away. Chock and Bates captured the first major international title of their career on Sunday at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

They scored 126.25 points during their free dance to a medley of Elvis Presley tunes and finished with 207.42 points to edge Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who totaled 203.93 points.

"We got a lot of medals. None of them are gold. I am surprised,'' Bates said. "If you had told us that we would win Four Continents when we pulled out of the Grand Prix four months ago, I think we would be very surprised. But we're very happy now.''

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Chock and Bates have had a hectic stretch since last year's Olympics. They switched coaches while Chock was recovering from ankle surgery. Chock said she was extremely pleased about the result because it was the first time this season that they competed against the top international teams.

"We're looking forward to Worlds now. We feel good and grounded, and we're back in the game,'' she said.

Chock and Bates finished second at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships two weeks ago to Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, who came into Four Continents as the favorite. The duo had won all five of their competitions coming into this meet.

Hubbell and Donahue led after the rhythm dance but finished fourth after having an illegal lift in the opening component of their free dance. It was supposed to be a stationary lift, but Hubbell said it might have been considered to move too much. Both were surprised by the judging given that judges saw the routine twice during practices this week and offered no feedback. 

"Certainly we would rather it happens here than the Worlds, so maybe it's a good wake-up call to make sure that everything is good for Worlds,'' Hubbell said.

Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were third. Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, the reigning Four Continents champions, were fifth.

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