Olympic skater's brother talks about their training on the ice
Toledo, Ohio (WNWO) You've seen Madison Hubbell dazzle on the ice in the team ice dance and pairs competitions. Before she joined forces with Zachary Donohue, the then Toledo teen trained with her brother and competed across the world.
NBC 24's Jamie Innis met up with Keiffer Hubbell to learn more about the years leading up to this olympic run.
Keiffer Hubbell is a patient coach these days, teaching part-time near Detroit.
"I teach mostly freestyle now," Hubbell explained. "I don’t teach the freestyle skills. I teach freestyle girls, mostly, how to do ice dance moves skating in the field. I’ll partner with them like we just did."
Hubbell's sister Madison started skating about two and a half years before he did.
"Our parents stressed that we had to do athletics growing up and I started out in gymnastics."
Hubbell ended up on the ice, and the two started out as rivals.
"We were both competitive against each other because we were both doing freestyle."
Madison switched over into Ice Dancing, taking on a partner who didn't last very long.
Hubbell would go on to slide into that spot, partnering with his sister for a decade.
"My parents both came to me independently with a bribe offer, an allowance, a private secret allowance that I would get if I skated with my sister," Hubbell confided. "Each parent individually said 'don’t tell the other parent.' And me being a very good kid, I abided by their demands and I accepted gladly both allowances and skated the first season with my sister. I think I got an Xbox or PlayStation and some video games. I was very spoiled."
He may have been spoiled, but they were successful.
After that first year, he decided, he was in.
"I decided to keep going. No allowance anymore. No more Xbox games. And the rest is history."
The pair's mom says she's not surprised her daughter has gone on to be an Olympian.
"It's kind of been the path all along," said Susan Hubbell. "I mean her and her brother were juvenile champions intermediate champions you know what I mean. They were the top of the game at the international junior level so I guess it’s not all that shocking."
Keiffer dealt with some injuries during their time as partners. He also struggled with the evolution of the sport.
"They were looking for much more acrobatics and asking more of the athletes," explained Keiffer Hubbell. "I was having trouble doing what we were doing before with Madison."
So the brother bowed out, paving the way for Madison to skate into the Olympics.
"My passion wasn't competing and ice dancing even, it was the training and the discipline aspects and some of that. So that was a natural, it had been a few years coming and I was losing interest and Madi was getting more and more into it. So when we split I think it was the best thing I could have done for me and I guess it was a good thing for Madi's career too because she found Zack and right away they got third the next year which was higher than we had ever placed. Hit the ground running. There weren’t that many other guys that are bigger than me in the sport, so who could be better? But there was Zach to take that burden off of me. At first when they partnered up it was a big weight off of my shoulders because I didn’t feel as much guilt. She had a partner. She wasn’t just floundering without a partner."
Off the ice, Keiffer Hubbell is in school, working to enter a nursing program.
He says he's still Madi's biggest fan.
"For me, I’ve always been Madi’s number one supporter. And that was probably what was most difficult of not continuing and continuing to invest in that dream with her."
He and his parents flew to South Korea to cheer Madison on in her Olympic debut.