U.S. Pairs Figure Skating Champs Cain-Gribble, LeDuc Retire
by Chrös McDougall
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc react after competing in the pairs free skate program during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 16, 2021 in Las Vegas.
When Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc partnered six years ago, they set out some goals for what they wanted to accomplish as a pairs figure skating team.
Following a season in which they won a second U.S. championship together and then made their Olympic debut at the Winter Games in Beijing, finishing eighth, they announced their retirement from competitive skating Monday.
“We are moving on with the competitive side of our skating,” LeDuc said in a video posted to Instagram. “We’ve had a really, really awesome six years. We’ve accomplished so many things, so many of our big goals we got to check off our list, and it’s been a really fun time.”
“I’m so grateful to have spent the last six years by your side, like honestly,” Cain-Gribble added, placing her hand on LeDuc’s knee.
“It’s been really amazing, like every day I feel like we were able to find joy in what we were doing. We were able to accomplish all of our goals together and travel the world and do it with a lot of people that we love and that supported us by our side.”
Cain-Gribble, 26, said she’s moving on to professional skating in touring ice shows, while she’ll also begin coaching alongside her parents in Plano, Texas. Darlene and Peter Cain, a 1980 Australian Olympian, previously coached Cain-Gribble and LeDuc.
LeDuc, meanwhile, moved to Chicago and will begin coaching there next month. The 32-year-old LeDuc is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The pair first competed together in 2016-17, and they won their first U.S. title in 2019. They also made the world championships in 2019 and 2021, finishing ninth both times. However, their real breakout came this past season.
Embracing their own styles and personalities more than ever, including eschewing some of the sport’s traditional gender roles, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc won their second national title in January before reaching their pinnacle at the Olympic Winter Games one month later.
In Beijing, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc finished eighth, two spots behind fellow Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier. That marked the first time since 1998 that two U.S. pairs finished among the top 10 at the Olympics.
LeDuc, who uses they/them pronouns, also made history in Beijing by becoming became the first openly nonbinary person to compete at an Olympic Winter Games.
The positive momentum continued the following month at their third world championships together, where they ranked second after the short program. However, they ended up withdrawing from the free skate after Cain-Gribble took three hard falls.
That might not be the last time you see them together, though. They hinted at skating together at some ice shows down the road.
“For now we’re saying goodbye to the competitive side of our skating, and we just wanted to jump on and say we love you, thank you for everything,” LeDuc said.