U.S. ice dance teams say they’ll put pressure on international field

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The United States has three of the top five best dance teams in the world. It’s possible – likely, even – that at least one of them will end up on the PyeongChang podium. The same three U.S. teams have qualified for the prestigious Grand Prix Final for three consecutive years and taken home medals from the event.

Brother-sister duo Maia and Alex Shibutani have already won a bronze medal in the team event earlier in PyeongChang; they also have two U.S. titles and three Worlds medals. They finished ninth at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

“We feel very comfortable at the arena,” Maia said in a recent press conference. “The audience was amazing and for us to know we put out two strong performances, we are really excited for the coming days.”

Since their team event ended, Alex noted they spent a day and a half outside the Olympic Village and “were able to put in some good work.”

Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished eighth in Sochi, then won their first national title together in 2015. They have two Worlds medals on their resume.

Chock admitted to expecting a tough competition, both among the U.S. teams and internationally.

“Throughout the season it has been really competitive for the top spot and it should be no different at this competition. It’s going to be very, very interesting,” she said.

The third U.S. team, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, are making their Olympic debut as newly-crowned national champions. They train with the two other top teams competing in PyeongChang: Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Virtue and Moir won 2010 ice dance gold, plus two Sochi silvers in dance and team event, and most recently, team gold in PyeongChang. The much-younger Papadakis and Cizeron are making their Olympic debuts, but won the world titles in 2015 and 2016.

At the press conference from PyeongChang, Hubbell and Donohue weren’t afraid to show their hand and put pressure on the Canadians and the French.

“We have trained with both Tessa and Scott and Gabriella and Guillaume, who for the last three seasons have seemed to dominate,” Hubbell said. “Certainly I know Tessa and Scott aren't feeling like gold is secure for them.

“They know how tough it will be to take it from all of us.”

The short dance is Sunday, February 18 in Primetime on NBC and and the free dance is Monday, February 19 in Primetime on NBC and