Winter Olympics: Tiny slips lead to agony for two Michigan teams

Winter Olympics: Tiny slips lead to agony for two Michigan teams

Madison Chock and Evan Bates talk about the music in the 2018 Winter Olympics dance at Novi Ice Arena in Novi on Jan. 31, 2018. Video by Junfu Han/DFP Wochit

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — A tiny slip.

A momentary loss of focus.

One little bobble of confidence can separate agony and ecstasy at the Olympics.

“As much as the Olympics is about amazing dream moments, there are a lot more Olympians that have this moment,” said Madison Hubbell, who grew up in Okemos. “Certainly, it’s something that is difficult.”

The agony was all over her face.

Hubbell and her partner Zachary Donohue were in third place after the short dance. They had the bronze medal within sight. But they messed up their free dance and finished in fourth place.

Pure agony.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates had that same look. Perhaps, even stronger.

They, too, had a chance at the bronze medal.

But they fell to the ice during their free dance, totally unexpectedly, totally out of character, losing any chance of winning a medal.

What happened?

Why did they fall?

It is hard to say.

It was a move that they had done at least 1,000 times. Maybe, 10,000 times. They had never fallen.

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“I think we clicked blades entering the spin,” Bates said. “One moment things were going exactly how we wanted them to. In the next moment, in a flash, disaster struck.”

They got up and gutted their way through the program. The crowd responded in full appreciation, cheering them to finish.

Everybody can understand when somebody makes a mistake.

Everybody can relate to somebody who falls down. Who hasn’t, right?

Everybody can relate to somebody whose dreams have vanished.

You feel for them. You ache for them.

When the program ended, Chock and Bates were locked in an…