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Olympics / Team USA

Local Skaters Named to U.S. World Championship Team

After an exhilerating U.S. National Championships resulting in their first crown, sibling team Maia and Alex Shibutani were named to the U.S. World Championship Team in two months.

The Shibutanis (New York, NY) were strong throughout both their short and free dances, surging ahead of a loaded ice dancing field, featuring defending champions Evan Bates and Madison Chock, and fierce competitors Zachary Donohue (Hartford, CT) and Madison Hubbell, who finished second and third respetively. All three teams will go to the world championships.

Maia and Alex are expected to contend for a gold medal as well as the duo of Chock and Bates. The United States’ greatest strength remains in their ice dancing team, which is one of the deepest in the entire world. With defending Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White still debating coming out of retirement for the 2018 Olympics, it’s possible that the squad could only get better.

American ice dancing is threatened the most by the Canadian team of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, the reigning Olympic silver medalists who have come out of retirement just as strong as ever. The former training partners of Davis and White not only could take home the gold at the world championships, but could also prompt Davis and White to come out of retirement with a strong showing.

The rest of the team is almost as strong, being headlined by 17-year old wunderkind Nathan Chen, who landed a record five quads in his free program en route to a dominating national title. Chen is expected to contend for a medal both at worlds, as well as the Olympics next year. Jason Brown, who won bronze while still nursing an injury at nationals, rounds out the men’s team, but is unlikely to contend for a medal unless he adds a quad to his program.

The local area could’ve had another skater in the men’s field, had Adam Rippon (Scranton, PA) not dropped out from nationals due to a broken left foot. The 2016 U.S. champion is still hoping to comeback and compete for an Olympic bid in 2018.

The American women have something to be excited about as well, with defending world silver medalist Ashley Wagner returning to the fold, ready to impress on the world stage yet again. She is joined by national champion Karen Chen and up and coming Mariah Bell. Chen and Wagner are expected to contend for the podium, although Chen is a largely unproven commodity, being too young to compete at worlds following her bronze medal national performance two seasons ago.

Gracie Gold (Newtown, MA) continued her disastrous season with a terrible showing, resulting in an alternate bid on the team, leaving her Olympic hopes and career in jeopardy. America’s weakest showing again will be in pairs, which will feature Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, as well as Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim. Neither pair is figured to to contend for medals.

The World Championships start March 29th in Helsinki, Finland, and will determine how many bids each nation will receive in the each Olympic skating discipline. The United States has the chance to have one of their strongest all-around teams since the 2006 championships.

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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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