This year, five-time Italian champion Carolina Kostner feels well trained, comfortable with her programs and ready for the competitive season to begin. Last year it was quite a different story for the European beauty.
The 2008 World silver medalist opened the 2008-09 season at Skate Canada with a sub par showing. Kostner was seventh after the short program in which she had several costly mistakes, one on a simple element. In that portion of the competition, she fell while stroking just before what should have been a double Axel attempt. She then tried to add the jump in at the very end of her program but went down again. She rallied in the free skate to place fourth overall. “It was not the beginning of the season I had hoped for," Kostner said.
Kostner opens up the 2009-10 Grand Prix season at Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris. The event begins today and concludes on Oct. 18. “I am excited to start and get into the new season,” she told IFS.
The competition will be the first one Kostner has coach Frank Carroll at her side. “Everything will be new,” she said. “”I haven’t competed with Frank yet so that will be an adjustment. I will see how it is with him and I. I will see how he reacts.”
Kostner had spent eight years working with Michael Huth in Oberstdorf, Germany before changing coaches to Carroll over the summer.
The shaky start to last season put a negative spin on the entire year for Kostner. “I had a bad feeling in the beginning and I could not get rid of it. At Cup of Russia, Italian nationals, and the Grand Prix Final I had a few good skates,” said Kostner who won Cup of Russia and claimed the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final. “I put a lot of pressure on myself.”
Kostner finished in second place overall at Europeans. She had won the title in 2007 and 2008. “At Europeans I had a good skate but not good enough to win,” she said. (See the Nov/Dec. 09 issue of IFS for a full interview with Kostner).
TOP INTERNATIONAL STARS
Kostner will have her work cut out for her in Paris. Also in the ladies field is reigning World champion Yu-Na Kim and 2008 World champion Mao Asada. Asada placed fourth at the 2009 global event but won the Grand Prix Final in December of 2008. Kim was second at the Grand Prix Final last season. Yukari Nakano is also in the field in Paris. She placed fifth at last season’s Grand Prix Final. Sasha Cohen was given a spot at the competition but pulled out due to injury. She returned to competition this season after a three-year hiatus.
The men’s field at Trophée Eric Bompard features Brian Joubert, Nobunari Oda and Tomáš Verner. In pairs, World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Gerrmany are the headliners while in ice dance Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (the 2009 World bronze medalists) are the top team in the field.
See the ISU website for the event for the complete list of entrants.
The prize money on the line at Trophée Eric Bompard is U.S. $180,000 (U.S.). The money will be awarded to the winners and those skaters/couples who place 2-5. The breakdown is as follows: men, ladies, pairs (per couple) and ice dance (per couple):
1st place: USD $18,000.00
2nd place: USD $13,000.00
3rd place: USD $ 9,000.00
4th place: USD $ 3,000.00
5th place: USD $ 2,000.00
An exhibition fee will be paid to skates/couples who are not awarded prize money. The exhibition fee set at $200 (U.S.) for single skaters and USD $300 (U.S.) for pairs and dance couples.
In the Unites States, the competition marks the first time in six years a Grand Prix event — with the exception of Skate America —will be seen on network TV. NBC Sports will present coverage of the first stop of the 2009 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series on Sunday from Paris, France.
Coverage on NBC Sports begins Sunday at 1 p.m. ET and coverage on Universal Sports begins Friday at 5 p.m. ET.
NBC Sports' broadcast will feature coverage of the ladies and men's free skates and Universal Sports will carry coverage of the pairs and ice dancing finals and the men's and ladies short programs.
U.S. STARS IN THE HUNT
NBC Sports' ladies' coverage highlights reigning two-time World junior silver medalist and 2009 U.S. bronze medalist Caroline Zhang competing against 2008 U.S. Junior gold medalist Alexe Gilles of France. On the men's side 2007 U.S. silver medalist Ryan Bradley and reigning two-time World Junior champion Adam Rippon compete. Bradley won the silver medal at 2008 Skate Canada and finished fourth at the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
U.S. BROADCAST TEAM
Andrea Joyce and four-time World and U.S. champion and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton will call the coverage for NBC Sports from the Universal Sports studios in Los Angeles. They will be joined by 2002 Olympic gold medalist David Pelletier who will report from Paris.
The cable channel Universal Sports will broadcast more than 50 hours of Grand Prix coverage, including live and near-live taped programming and rebroadcasts of the featured programming that appears on NBC Sports.
For a complete list of NBC and Universal coverage of the Grand Prix Series, click HERE and scroll down to the bottom of the page.