For the fifth Winter Olympics in a row, a U.S. team earned a place on the ice dance podium — unthinkable for a nation that won a medal in the discipline’s 1976 Olympic debut and then went 30 years without.

It was Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue who claimed the bronze with 218.02 points, a fitting finale for the team retiring from competition after next month’s world championships. They were in bronze-medal position following the short dance at their 2018 Olympic debut but fell to fourth overall when Donohue put both hands down on the ice during a slide in their free dance.

Having decided before this season even began that it would be their last, Hubbell and Donohue chose to bask in the Olympic spotlight for an extra moment after their performance.

“We knew that we had to be very focused in the moment and rely that would be sufficient, that would be enough, so at the end we were just trying to soak in as much as we could of Olympic ice,” Hubbell said. “Without any pressure, without anything riding on the line, we just wanted to take a moment to thank the audience, thank each other, the arena. Not many people get to experience that moment, so it would be a shame to walk away without really appreciating it.”

They follow in the footsteps of U.S. figure skating greats Tanith White (nee Belbin) and Ben Agosto (2006 silver), Meryl Davis and Charlie White (2010 silver, 2014 gold) and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (2018 bronze).

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, she a three-time Olympian and he at his fourth Games (a record for any U.S. figure skater) finished fourth with 214.77 points, a redemptive skate for them as well. Both members of the couple (who are one off the ice as well) fell in their free dance in 2018 and they placed ninth. They were fourth at the 2021 World Championships as well, though had defeated Hubbell and Donohue for the U.S. title last month.

“Given the depth of ice dance and how fierce the competition is, we knew coming in we would need the best from ourselves to be on the podium,” Bates said. “We really are proud of what we did and also proud of what our competitors did. For Zach and Madi to medal is something also that we’re proud of them for; for the U.S. to win that medal is important. Of course we wanted to be on the podium too, but it didn’t happen and that’s part of sport and that’s what makes the Olympics so entertaining for folks at home and so motivating for the athletes.

“There are only three spots on the podium and we were fourth, but there’s a lot to be proud of still.”

This is the third time in the past four Olympics where the second-placed U.S. team was fourth, proving the country’s high-level depth in the discipline.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France won gold.