Release courtesy of U.S. Figure Skating
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Eight U.S. skaters have earned coveted spots at the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final to be held Dec. 3-6 in Tokyo, Japan. Ashley Wagner will represent the United States in ladies, Evan Lysacek, Jeremy Abbott and Johnny Weir will compete in the men’s event, and the ice dancing team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White will also make the trip to Tokyo.
Ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto earned a berth to the competition but were forced to withdraw because of illness.
Skaters qualified for the Grand Prix Final based on point totals earned throughout the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. The United States won 16 medals at the six qualifying events: six golds, five silvers and five bronzes. The United States’ five entries in the Grand Prix Final are the most of any country.
Four U.S. skaters will serve as alternates. They are Rachael Flatt (first alternate) and Alissa Czisny (second alternate) in ladies, and Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker (third alternate) in pairs.Icenetwork.com will provide live and on-demand coverage of the event for “Season Pass” subscribers within the contiguous United States. U.S. Figure Skating, via a joint partnership with MLB Advanced Media, has secured the exclusive U.S. broadband rights for the 2009 ISU Grand Prix Series. Visit icenetwork.com for the complete broadcast schedule.
In addition, NBC Sports and Universal Sports will provide same-day coverage of select events.
Wagner won silver at the Rostelecom Cup and bronze at the NHK Trophy. She is the reigning World Junior bronze medalist and the 2008 U.S. bronze medalist. Wagner will be making her Grand Prix Final debut.
Lysacek won silver at the Cup of China and then brought home a long-awaited Skate America gold medal. He won bronze at the 2007 Grand Prix Final and was an alternate for last season’s event. This is the fifth time Weir, a three-time U.S. champion (2004-06), has earned a berth to the Grand Prix Final. He collected bronze at last season’s event in Goyang City, Republic of Korea. Abbott, who garnered gold at Skate Canada and placed fifth at the NHK Trophy, will join Lysacek and Weir in Japan. Abbott was last season’s champion of this event. He is the reigning U.S. champion and was the bronze medalist at the 2007 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.
Reigning U.S. and Four Continents champions Davis and White are the second-seeded ice dancing team and the top-ranked American ice dancers at the Grand Prix Final. This season they won gold at both of their Grand Prix assignments, the Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy. This will be the second Grand Prix Final appearance for the duo. They won the bronze medal last season in Goyang City.
U.S. Figure Skating is the national governing body for the sport of figure skating in the United States as recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union. U.S. Figure Skating is comprised of more than 763 member clubs and Basic Skills Programs representing approximately 179,000 members. U.S. Figure Skating is charged with the development of the sport on all levels within the United States including athletes, officials, sanctioning of events and exhibitions, and establishing the rules and guidelines by which the sport is governed.