Ever since they landed a bronze medal in their first season as partners in 2012, ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue have been eyeing Olympic gold. The pair repeated the feat three more times in 2015, 2016, and 2017 but this year, the broke through, dominating Nationals and landing at the top of the podium ahead of reigning champions Maia and Alex Shibutani as they headed to PyeongChang for the 2018 Olympics. And now, they’re medal contenders, sitting in third place after the short dance.
But before they left for South Korea, the first-time Olympians spoke with EW about how they unwind and the important role music — and Rihanna — plays in their training routine.
“I really rely on Zach for music. When we’re training and such, we pick a playlist off his phone and we share Apple AirPods, so I don’t have to be in charge of it,” Hubbell told EW.
“Our music depends on the program we’re preparing for,” Donohue explains. “If it’s for a short program, we go with high energy, and if it’s for something else, Maddie likes to slow it down and really get emotional.”
See more of the medal contenders’ pop culture picks below:
1. The Killing
“It’s a murder-mystery series. I guess I like it because it’s a little bit scary so it definitely takes my mind off training.”
2. Gossip Girl
“During competition, I look for shows that are like really mindless. Usually, at competitions, I watch Gossip Girl, which I probably shouldn’t be saying. There’s something enjoyably mindless about a show like that.”
3. The Little Prince in Spanish
“Right now, I’m trying to learn Spanish so I’m doing that. My boyfriend is from Spain, he’s another skater [Adrian Diaz Bronchud] that trains here [in Montreal] and we live together. So I’m trying to learn Spanish because his whole family only speaks Spanish.”
4. Our Little Secret by Roz Nay
“I picked it up because I’m reading as I’m traveling and in the airport. This was a book that was very easy to get into quickly, you know one or two pages and you were back into the story, but it also wasn’t hard to leave for a few days and come back. It was easy to come and go, a quick read. In the off-season, I like to take a bigger book but when I’m competing, I definitely prefer something that I can read in a few days and isn’t quite so intense.”
5. “Gold” by Kiiara
“I think I’m like a grandmother in a 26-year-old’s body. I know all the lyrics to the songs, like for example that song about gold. It was on [Zach’s] Spotify and I was like, ‘Oh look, Gold, because we won haha.’ He was like yeah, ‘I promise you, you know that song.'”
“Oh my god. I love Rihanna. My favorite song would have to be ‘Love on the Brain.’ I also really like ‘B—h Better Have My Money.’ We had a hip-hop program last year and we did like a big mash-up of these different things and I literally tried to put that song in but it didn’t fly. It was not accepted, in the original cut.”
1. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
“I’m on like my fourth time reading this book. It’s kind of changed the way I look at certain things, the way I approach different scenarios and plus it’s got like a great entertainment factor to it.”
“I’m more of a movie guy — I only have a few shows that currently working on, but this is one of my favorite shows. I like the main character’s character. He experiences a culture shock almost everywhere he goes.”
3. Lethal Weapon
“It’s the Netflix series based on the original movie, that kind of delves a little bit deeper into each of the character’s lives. I loved the Lethal Weapon movie series growing up and definitely loved Mel Gibson before he went crazy.”
4. Bright (2018)
“I actually thought it was pretty good. Going into it, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to play in with the whole sci-fi deal. I mean I love anything Will Smith: he’s an incredible actor and I’ve liked all of his films. Cried watching a few, but Bright is definitely one of my top 10. It’s pretty good.”
5. “Everglow” by Coldplay
“We like the single version; the radio version’s just crappy. Also Queen always gets us pretty hyped up, gotta love some Queen.”
6. Dancing with the Stars
“When we were living in Detroit, I started teaching ballroom as well and we were very excited because we both love Latin music and Dancing With the Stars would be an opportunity to work with professionals and actually do ballroom on the floor, which would be incredible.” So, yeah, they’re in should the show come a-calling.