The Grand Prix continues Nov. 12-15 with Skate America in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games host city of Lake Placid, N.Y. Team USA will send the largest contingent of competitors, 18, with three entrants each in the ladies, men’s, pairs and ice dance events.
In the ladies competition, both two-time U.S. silver medalist Rachael Flatt and 2008 U.S. Junior Ladies Champion Alexe Gilles will make a bid for their first Grand Prix medal of the season. Flatt, who was second at last year’s Cup of Russia, finished just off the podium at 2009 Cup of China while Gilles was fifth at Trophee Eric Bompard.
Both will have to contend with Korea’s 2009 World Champion Yu-Na Kim, who won the season opening Trophee Eric Bompard with the highest score ever recorded in ladies skating, 210.03 points. Last season, Kim won all of her events except for the Grand Prix Final, where she was second to Japan’s Mao Asada.
The ladies field will be void of an Olympic medalist as 2006 Olympic silver medalistannounced her withdrawal due to injury on Monday morning. She is being replaced by Emily Hughes, who finished seventh at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games as the replacement for an injured Michelle Kwan.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to compete for the fourth time at Skate America,” said Hughes, who placed ninth in her last international, 2008 Trophee Eric Bompard. “It is especially exciting to be representing the United States in my home state of New York and at such an historic Olympic setting as Lake Placid.”
Hughes withdrew from the last two U.S. Championships because of injuries.
Reigning World Champion Evan Lysacek is making his sixth consecutive appearance at the competition. Lysacek, 2009 U.S. silver medalist Brandon Mroz and 2008 Skate Canada silver medalist Ryan Bradley will contend with an international field that includes 2008 European Champion Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic. Verner won silver at 2009 Trophee Eric Bompard.
“Skate America is one of my favorite events,” said Lysacek. “It’s always a great competition for me because I really enjoy performing in front of the home crowd. It is an amazing feeling to step out there on the ice and see the American flags waving and people chanting ‘USA, USA’ after you skate. It’s awesome.”
Two-time U.S. Champion Lysacek has never won Skate America. In 2004, he finished fifth in his debut then won three straight silver medals before taking bronze last year. His other placements on the Grand Prix include gold at 2006 Cup of China, silver at 2005 NHK Trophy, silver at 2007 Cup of China and bronze at 2008 Skate Canada.
Bradley made his Grand Prix debut by finishing sixth at 2002 Skate Canada. In 2008, Bradley topped Lysacek for the silver medal at Skate Canada then finished seventh at Trophee Eric Bompard. He started the 2009-10 season with a fourth place showing at Nebelhorn Trophy and ninth place showing at Trophee Eric Bompard.
Mroz has never won a medal on the Grand Prix circuit. After making his debut with a seventh place finish at Skate Canada and a fifth place showing Trophee Eric Bompard last year, he returned to the Grand Prix with a seventh place showing at Rostelecom Cup in October. He finished ninth at the 2009 World Championships.
In the pairs competition, two-time U.S. Champion Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker are going for a sixth consecutive Grand Prix medal, following a bronze campaign at Rostelecom Cup on October. The team, who won silver last season at Skate America and bronze at Skate Canada, finished fifth at the 2009 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and 11th at the 2009 World Championships.
McLaughlin and Brubaker will face tough competition from Canada’s 2008 Trophee Eric Bompard bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin; China’s three-time World Champions and Olympic bronze medalists Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao; Ukraine’s three-time national champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov; and China’s three-time World silver medalists and Olympic silver medalists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang.
Shen and Zhao made a triumphant return to competition earlier this month by winning Cup of China over country mates Zhang and Zhang. The bronze medal went to the Ukrainians while Duhamel and Buntin placed fourth.
Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski missed the last two Grand Prix seasons because of injuries but will return for 2009 Skate America. In Lake Placid, the 2007 U.S. Champions are making their first Grand Prix appearances since placing sixth at 2005 Trophee Eric Bompard and eighth at Cup of Russia. The pair, currently ranked fifth in the country, opened their season by placing fourth at the Nebelhorn Trophy.
Joining the two U.S. national champion teams are reigning pewter medalists Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, who are coming off a seventh place performance at 2009 Cup of China. Evora and Ladwig were seventh at Skate Canada and fourth at Cup of China last year.
In ice dancing, five-time U.S. Champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto look to once again top European Champions Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski, who were second to the Americans at Cup of China. Rostelecom Cup silver medalists Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy are also vying for the Skate America title.
Team USA will also be represented by two-time U.S. bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, who opened the season with a sixth-place finish at Trophee Eric Bompard, and the 2009 World Junior Champions Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein. Chock and Zuerlein were eighth at Cup of China.
Skate America is the fifth event of the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit. The series, now in its 15th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative, point-scoring format. The top six scoring athletes in each discipline move onto the Grand Prix Final, Dec. 3-6, in Tokyo, Japan, which will be combined with the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final for the second consecutive season.
The six Grand Prix events are Trophee Eric Bompard, Oct. 15-18, in Paris, France; Rostelecom Cup, Oct. 22-25, in Moscow Russia; Cup of China, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, in Beijing, China; NHK Trophy, Nov. 5-8, in Nagano, Japan; Skate America, Nov. 12-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Canada.
The points toward the Grand Prix Final that are awarded for each place are 15 points for first; 13 points for second; 11 points for third; nine points for fourth; seven points for fifth; five points for sixth place; four points for seventh place; and three points for eighth. In pair skating, only the top six receive points.
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