When America’s best figure skaters take the ice at the U.S. National Championships next week, all eyes will be on a North Texas pair. Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc are the defending gold medalists in Pairs Skating.
A year after they earned the title, the two are still getting used to it. “Sometime when people announce it, we’re like ‘Oh, yeah, that’s right. We’re nationals champions,” said LeDuc. “It’s pretty wild,” added Cain-Gribble.
It’s been a year of journeys off the ice, as well. Ashley Cain married Dalton Gribble and added his name to hers. “It’s nice to hear my new last name at competitions,” she said. “I wanted to be reminded that I have this life back home, and there’s somebody at home that cares so much about me.”
LeDuc, who grew up in Iowa, feels more connected than ever to North Texas. “I really like the DFW area and the diversity I found here,” he said. As an out member of the LGBTQ community, LeDuc hopes to use his visibility to inspire others. “I know there’s going to be some person who sees me on T.V. who says ‘I don’t have to doubt myself.’”
But the focus now is squarely on defending their national crown in Greensboro, North Carolina. “After we won our national title I was like, ‘I want another one,’” said Cain-Gribble.
And they are looking over the horizon towards the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. “I just want to be on that team so much,” said LeDuc. “The Olympic Games are all about timing,“ added Cain-Gribble.
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They have two years – and countless training sessions at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Euless – to get ready to take on the world. You can watch the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on NBC and NBCSN starting Thursday, January 23.