U.S. Olympic ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker and national silver medalist pairs’ skaters Emily Chan and Spencer Howe withdrew from upcoming Grand Prix events.
Hawayek and Baker, 11th at last year’s Olympics, scratched out of Grand Prix events in France and Japan next month after they fell and Baker was concussed. Baker previously sustained concussions in 2015 and 2018.
“With transparency, this year has been full of ups and downs for us as a team,” was posted on their social media. “While the recovery is going well, if we have learned anything over the course of our career, it is that concussions are not an injury to rush the process of returning from. For that reason we are postponing our return to competition to foster the best recovery possible. Our passion to compete is still very much present, we have just had to be more patient than expected this past year. We have our sights set on returning to compete at the National championships where we can come into the event with the best physical and mental health possible.”
The couple last competed at last December’s Grand Prix Final, placing fifth.
They missed last season’s national and world championships for physical and mental health reasons. In February, Hawayek posted that she dealt with effects from a concussion sustained in the 2021-22 Olympic season.
Hawayek and Baker earned bronze at every U.S. Championship in the previous Olympic cycle and ascended to the No. 2 U.S. couple after Olympic bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retired last year.
Chan and Howe, the top returning U.S. pairs’ team this season, withdrew from their Grand Prix season debut in China next month. They are still entered in a later November Grand Prix in Japan.
They have not announced a reason for their withdrawal.
Chan and Howe climbed from fourth at the January 2022 U.S. Championships to fifth at the March 2023 World Championships.
They entered this season as the top U.S. pair after national champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier did not sign up for any fall events after saying that last season would probably be their final one in competition.
By missing one Grand Prix event, Chan and Howe will not be able to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final, which gathers the world’s top six per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix Series. The Final fields are made up of skaters who have the best two results during the Grand Prix Series.
Also, two-time U.S. Olympian Jason Brown entered a lower-level event in Poland next month, signaling his first full competition of the season. Brown did not enter the Grand Prix Series for a second consecutive fall but has been expected to compete at January’s nationals.