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Chock, Bates take lead at nationals with record rhythm dance

Defending champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates set a world record in the rhythm dance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday, scoring 90.10 points to edge Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue by less than a point in their first competition in nearly a year.

Hubbell and Donohue, the two-time champions and reigning silver medalists, set an American record 89.66 points during their strong, sassy program set to music from the film “Burlesque.” But they were eclipsed just an hour later, when Chock and Bates earned Level 4 marks on every element but a twizzle sequence to music from “Kiss Me, Kate.”

Madison Chock and Evan Bates perform during the rhythm dance program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

The previous world record of 90.03 points was set by Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron at the 2019 NHK Trophy.

“It means that we’ve been doing the right thing and surrounding ourselves with the right people and training really well,” said Chock, who sustained a concussion that forced them to withdraw from Skate America. “Just enjoying ourselves, truly.”

Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, performing to a medley of swinging music, were in third place with 85.28 points as they try to improve on the bronze medal they earned each of the past two years.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates perform during the rhythm dance program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

The first national champion of 2021 will be crowned later Friday night following the women's free skate. Bradie Tennell led after her energetic short program, but the 2018 champion was followed closely by two-time defending champion Alysa Liu, former champion Karen Chen and pre-event favorite Mariah Bell.

The U.S. championships were moved from San Jose, California, due to the pandemic. No fans were allowed.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates perform during the rhythm dance program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov perform during the rhythm dance program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)