SAN JOSE, Calif. - Getting used to a new partner is tough.
Even tougher when your old partner was your brother.
Madison Hubbell and her older brother, Keiffer, had skated the previous 10 seasons together, winning titles at the juvenile, intermediate and junior levels at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. They split up in May, and Madison began skating with Zachary Donohue over the summer.
"This year has been filled with ups and downs for me. Every competition they play (a) video and there's little clips of Keiffer and I. It happened at Skate America, and I wasn't ready for it," Madison said. "It's been a struggle to get used to skating with someone else in the competitive process because I'm so used to Keiffer."
But Hubbell clicked quickly with Donohue, the junior bronze medallist in 2010 with previous partner Piper Gilles. Hubbell and Donohue finished third Saturday in their first nationals.
Earlier this season they won the Nebelhorn Trophy, an international competition one step below the Grand Prix series.
"Right away there was an ease to our skating styles," she said. "I can't be happier with how our first year has gone, and I'm looking forward to building upon that."
RUDY REVISITED: Rudy Galindo got a standing ovation without leaving his seat.
Galindo won the 1996 men's title with one of the most memorable performances in U.S. history, an artistic masterpiece that had the entire arena in tears. That it happened in his hometown, the last time the U.S. Figure Skating Championships were in San Jose, less than a year after his coach died, made it even more special.
"It took about two to three months for it to settle in," Galindo said in an interview with the event emcee before Saturday's free dance.
As Galindo spoke, his free skate was replayed on the Jumbotron. And just as they did 16 years ago, fans rose before Galindo finished his program, giving him a thunderous ovation.
SMART SKATERS: Jacob Jaffe has another honour to go with his bronze medal in novice ice dance.
The senior at Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio, was one of 10 skaters named to the U.S. Figure Skating Scholastic Honors Team on Saturday. The program recognizes high school juniors and seniors who excel in academics, community involvement and skating, and is open to fulltime students with a GPA of 3.4 or higher.
All 10 members of this year's team were on the honour roll, won academic honours and/or was an honour society member.
In addition to Jaffe, the other members of the team were: Jordan Barone, synchronized skating, senior at Hershey High School in Arlington Heights, Ill.; Jason Brown, senior men, junior at Highland Park (Ill.) High School; Harrison Choate, junior men, senior at Buckingham Browne & Nichols in Cambridge, Mass.; David Cruikshank, novice men, senior at Mamaroneck (N.Y.) High School; Christina Gao, senior ladies, senior at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati; Lukas Kaugars, junior men, junior at Widefield High School in Colorado Springs, Colo; Vanessa Lam, senior ladies, junior at Downey (Calif.) High School ; Esther Wu, junior ladies, senior at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, Calif.; and Michelle Xie, synchronized skating, Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego.
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