'It has never been a very close fight': Engaged ice dancers face off in Beijing Games
Imagine having to compete against the person you have been engaged to for three years on the biggest stage in sports — and on Valentine's Day, no less. Spain’s Adrian Diaz and U.S.’s Madison Hubbell are doing exactly that at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Hubbell and her figure skating partner, Zachary Donohue, are currently in third place as the American tandem aims for a spot on the podium when the ice dancing competition comes to a finish on Monday with the free dance event.
Diaz and partner Olivia Smart, on the other hand, aren't in medal contention — which may or may not subside a bit of the potential awkwardness.
“It has never been a very close fight,” Diaz told The Associated Press.
But the love component has even more layers.
Twice World Championship medallists and the fourth-place pairing in Pyeongchang, Hubbell and Donohue were once an off-ice item. Though their romantic relationship ended, they've remained faithful to ice dancing through a very successful partnership.
2⃣ of the top 4⃣ teams in the ice dance standings are members of #TeamUSA!
Final standings after the rhythm dance:
3. Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue - 87.13
4. Madison Chock and Evan Bates - 84.14
11. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker - 74.58#WinterOlympics #Beijing2022 pic.twitter.com/UYADK4wvfC
— U.S. Figure Skating (@USFigureSkating) February 12, 2022
Diaz, meanwhile, has welcomed the opportunity to support his fiancée.
In last week’s team event, Diaz was able to cheer on his partner and the U.S. from the stands, which gave Hubbell an added feeling of love.
“It was especially special for me to have my fiancé in the stands,” Hubbell said, “because usually we’re focused on our event so much that we don’t get to see each other in person. So I’m really happy to have him able to be there.”
As Beijing cracks down on COVID-19 with some of the strictest health and safety measures in the modern sports world, Hubbell and Diaz are among the few Olympians who will get to spend Valentine's Day with their loved ones.
Elite athletes are used to defying the odds, after all.
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