Ice Dancers Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue Weren’t Always the Perfect Team: ‘We Hated Each Other’

Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue may be the picture perfect ice dancing duo now, but the athletes haven’t always been a friendly team.

Hubbell and Donohue — who are competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics —  told PEOPLE prior to arriving in Pyeongchang, South Koream, that before they dominated the ice together, they were fierce competitors.

“We were both competitors against each other and we hated each other,” Hubbell says. “Our mutual coach at the time kind of forced us to start skating together just to kill time. We didn’t really want to skate together. It was fate.”

Hubbell spent the first 10 years of her career dancing with her brother, Kieffer, before they decided to split in 2011, according to NBC. Donohue competed with four other partners before linking with Hubbell.

Now, the two are closer than ever — “We always tell each other we love each other before we start our program,” Donohue tells PEOPLE.

Pyeongchang will mark the duo’s first trip to the Winter Olympics. And Hubbell says this is what she’s always wanted.

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

“The Olympics has been my dream since I can remember,” she tells PEOPLE. “It’s part of why I started skating at the age of 5.”

RELATED VIDEO: Ashley Wagner Thinks Adam Rippon in the Olympics Will Change How People ‘Interact with the LGBT Community’

Donohue’s introduction to the sport was quite different. He says he never wanted to be a skater and, during a childhood trip to North Carolina, he and his cousin made fun of ice dancers during a public skate, mimicking their moves.

“My cousin, behind my back, goes to my mom like, ‘He’s kind of good you should sign him up,’ Donohue recalls. “Which my mom goes, ‘Okay!’ ”

And the rest, was history.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit

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