Chock and Bates Talk Pressure, Creativity and Future Plans After Second World Title Win

After winning their second straight World championship in their training town of Montreal, Madison Chock and Evan Bates look back at their season and what inspires them to keep going in the sport.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
By: Darci Miller

Since 2018, Madison Chock and Evan Bates have lived in their training town – and adopted hometown – of Montreal, Canada, with a view of the Bell Centre from their apartment window.

These days, it’s a view that’s taken on added significance, as the Bell Centre is where Chock and Bates won their second World title this past March.

“In the weeks leading up to Worlds, at least for me personally, it was hard not to feel kind of pulled towards the future, seeing the venue every day,” Bates said. “It was a really good practice in staying in the present moment and just trying to take it day by day.”

That was a constant battle for Chock and Bates all season as the pressure mounted. The duo went undefeated and hasn’t lost since the 2022 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. They won their two Grand Prix assignments, Skate America and the Grand Prix Espoo, before winning the Grand Prix Final and earning their fifth U.S. championship.

While it seemed like a charmed season from the outside looking in, Bates insists it was not as easy as it may have looked.

“There’s been a learning curve to managing expectations and learning to focus on our process and our preparation and the things that will allow us to skate well, and to take care of those controllable things so that things like results and other people’s opinions and things that we can’t control kind of stay out of our field of vision,” Bates said. “It’s hard. It’s easier said than done.”

The digital age makes this infinitely more difficult. Bates recalls opening Instagram before the World Championships and seeing a post saying that, if he and Chock were to go undefeated this season, they would be the first U.S. ice dance team since Meryl Davis and Charlie White to do so.

“I was like, ‘Ahhhhh, close app!’” Bates said with a laugh. “I think we always feel the pressure, and certainly expectations for us have grown, and we were able to I think focus on the good parts of our preparation and focus on just improving and doing the work and making sure that we tick all the boxes so when we step on the ice, we have the best opportunity to succeed.”

Chock and Bates are, indeed, the first U.S. ice dance team since Davis and White to have an undefeated season. They’re also the first U.S. ice dance team to win back-to-back World championships and the most decorated U.S. ice dance team at the World Championships.

“You say all those things and they sound so cool, and we don’t think about that when we go out to compete or we go out to skate or plan for the next season,” Chock said. “That’s not really on our minds. It’s just something that people tell us and remind us of, and we’re just like, ‘Oh, wow. Is that true? I can’t believe it.’”

“I think it’s really natural for people to compare from past generations to current generations, but I think it’s really hard,” Bates said. “Meryl and Charlie, in their time, were just incredible, and we witnessed it firsthand, training with them, cheering them on. Tanith (White) and Ben (Agosto) before them inspired a generation of skaters. So I think more than anything, it’s just like, we’ve enjoyed doing it so much that that’s the thing that keeps us going. Winning is amazing, and sometimes, at least for me, I’m like, ‘Holy crap.’”

Not bad for a season that could have never happened.

Chock and Bates have been coy about their future competitive plans since the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, contemplating retirement as the rest of their Olympic teammates have stepped away from the sport. They’ve been frank about wanting to keep at it until they receive their team event medal, upgraded to gold in January after ROC scores were disqualified.

When that will happen remains to be seen, but ultimately, the two continued skating because … well, they wanted to.

“Mainly, I think we were still inspired,” Chock said. “We had ideas and we still felt passionate about skating, and so we decided, why not? We feel like we’re still improving and there’s still room to improve, and we’re reaching some new levels, just within ourselves and within our skating. So it’s just been really fun to explore that and just keep pushing ourselves. It’s really been a pleasure to have such a long career and feel like we’ve gotten so much from skating, and we continue to discover new things every time we train and go to the rink and go compete. It’s incredibly fulfilling, and I think that’s the main thing that keeps us coming back for more.”

It’s also what keeps them motivated year after year. At 31 and 35 years old and 13 years into their on-ice partnership, Chock and Bates are still tinkering with their process, finding ways to gain an edge here or there, and creating incredibly unique programs.

“What we’ve learned is, when we are passionate about what we’re creating on the ice and passionate about the story we’re telling, things just seem to move in the right direction,” Chock said. “So that’s kind of our meter or scale by which we can measure if we’re doing the right thing. If we’re passionate about it, if we’re inspired by it, then we know, okay, we’re on the right track, because if we believe in it, then no matter what we do on the ice, we’re going to feel fulfilled inside knowing that we are putting something that is authentic to us out there for people to see. And I think that’s probably the most rewarding part about ice dance.”

Chock and Bates are in for quite the summer, as they get married in Hawaii in June. Beyond that, there could be some other sparkly hardware in their future.

“It’s certainly inspiring to think another Winter Games is just around the corner, and I’m sure we’ll be extra inspired after watching the Summer Games this August,” Chock said. “First and foremost, we’re looking forward to this season and the World Championships being in Boston. We have really special memories in Boston, and it’s just a wonderful city and arena, and I’m sure it’s going to be another amazing event.

“And then after that, I mean, it’s not very long to the next Games, so who knows? Anything is possible,” Chock said with a mischievous smile. “Why not?”