Updated: February 2, 2022 8:40 PM EST | Originally published: February 20, 2018 1:57 PM EST

Madison Chock and Evan Bates are heading into the 2022 Winter Olympics as U.S. National Champions, armed with striking programs set to Billie Eilish and Daft Punk. But throughout any performance, it’s clear the Team USA ice dancers have chemistry.

Beijing marks the second Olympics that they have attended as a couple both on and off the ice. In 2018, their first Games together as a couple, viewers were heartbroken after both Chock and Bates fell during their long program to John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the ice rink in PyeongChang.

The pair previously competed at the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 and Bates competed in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with a different skating partner.

While the pair have shown off their natural chemistry since joining to become an ice dancing pair in 2011, they only began seriously dating in 2017. Here’s everything you should know about how Chock and Bates’ on-ice relationship turned into a romance off the rink.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates skate in the Free Dance during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 08, 2022 in Nashville.
Matthew Stockman—Getty Images

Chock and Bates met in their youth at the skating rink

Both Bates and Chock have been competing in ice skating since they were youngsters. According to NBC, Chock, who was born in Torrance, California, began skating at the tender age of 5, while Bates, a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, began skating at the age of 4.

Both started as singles skaters before making the decision to move into ice dancing; Chock decided to transition to ice dancing when she was 12, while Bates was a singles skater until he reached the junior level when he focused solely on ice dancing. The pair met while they were both figure skating in Michigan, a community that Chock calls a “tight-knit group…we all know each other and hang out.

They both skated with other partners originally

Although Bates started out as a solo figure skater, once he started skating with a partner, he was originally paired with skater Emily Samuelson, from 2000-2011. The pair won a world junior title in 2008 and competed together at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 where they finished 11th, but decided to part ways when Bates was injured and couldn’t compete for the 2010-2011 season. Meanwhile, Chock began ice dancing with Greg Zuerlain in 2006, eventually nabbing a world junior title with him in 2009. When Zuerlain retired in 2011, Chock and Bates decided to pair up to become a new ice-dancing couple.

Chock and Bates have been skating together for 8 years

The pair’s decision to compete with one another has brought them plenty of accolades. In the time since they became an ice-dancing couple, the two have won three gold medals and six silver medals at the U.S. National Championships and took home the bronze medal in 2018. Internationally, they’ve held their own as well, taking home two gold medals at the Four Continents Championships and three silver medals at the Grand Prix Final.

The couple also attributes their quest for top prizes as being a major factor in their romantic relationship. In an interview with NBC, Bates said the challenges they’ve faced on the ice helped develop their relationship off the ice.

“If everything had been going swimmingly over the past few seasons, with gold medals galore, I think, through it all, the difficult times created a really beautiful relationship that we now share,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe it would’ve never happened if everything was going great.”

Madison Chock and Evan Bates of Team USA reacts after competing in the Ice Dance Free Dance on day four of the 2019 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Saitama Super Arena on March 23, 2019 in Saitama, Japan.
Atsushi Tomura—International Skating Union/Getty Images

Chock and Bates went on their first date more than a decade ago

While this dreamy ice dancing couple didn’t make take their relationship to the next level until 2017, they actually went on their first date when Bates took Chock out to dinner for her 16th birthday while they were both young skaters in Michigan.

Chock said in an interview with Inside Edition that the romantic venue was Bahama Breeze and that the night was “really fun.” She also said that she could remember what her birthday gift was: “a zip-up hoodie from PINK, and it had turquoise letters” and that she wore a black ruffled dress and hot pink heels. When Bates was asked about the date in the same interview, he said that it felt like a “childhood romance…we were so young.”

They share a lot of common interests besides ice skating

A love of competing on the ice isn’t the only thing that these two Olympians share; the pair both are proud owners of Toy Poodles. Chock has a Toy Poodle named Henry, while Bates has a Toy Poodle named Stella. Judging from this Instagram, it looks like Henry and Stella might be just as chummy as their human counterparts.

The pair also love going to the movies, but according to Chock, Bates can’t always keep his eyes open for the whole flick. “He always falls asleep, even if it’s an action movie,” she told Inside Edition.

Chock and Bates’ romance has benefitted their skating careers and vice versa

Chock and Bates acknowledge that they’ve always been compatible together on and off the ice, but taking their relationship to the next level in real life has only made their skating more passionate. “I’ve always had great chemistry with [Bates],” Chock told NBC. “We’ve always gotten along so well. Skating together is something that we love doing, and we love doing it together. Now, we’re together on and off the ice and it makes it even more powerful. It feels completely genuine and real. It makes training so much more fun and it brings us closer together every day. We’re working together, working towards the same things. When you’re doing that with someone that you love, it really is so much more meaningful.”

Bates echoed this sentiment during an interview with Inside Edition that since the pair spend most of their time together, either training or spending downtime together, it’s been a revealing way to show the depth of how much they care about one another. “99% of the time, we are together,” he said. “We go to the rink together every day…we go grocery shopping together, we go out to dinner together, we cook together. But actually, this is my best friend. We seriously have each other’s backs and haven’t gotten sick of each other after six years together, and I don’t see that changing.”

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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