The Netherlands is known for its world-class speed skaters but figure skating enthusiasts in that nation are looking to make figure skating a high-profile sport as well.
The Challenge Cup drew an unprecedented number of top skaters this season. The competition, falling less than two weeks before the World Championships, gave skaters an opportunity to test out their programs in a competitive arena one final time.
In a surprising turn of events, Brian Joubert, who has been absent from the international scene all season (other than the European Championships where he placed eighth), captured the men's title over America's Jeremy Abbott. Italy's Samuel Contesti skated into third.
In the ladies event, Carolina Kostner scored a runaway victory but not over Alissa Czisny (whom most thought would be Kostner's main challenger), but her Italian teammate Valentina Marchei.
In the junior ranks, America's Leah Kaiser captured gold (145.27) ahead of Canada's Gabrielle Daleman (132.48). Giado Russo from Italy was third (130.25).
In the men's event, Peter James Hallam from Great Britain (144.27) outscored Turkey's Osman Akgun (144.14) by a breath to take the gold. Charlie Parry-Evans from Great Britain was third (125.83).
Here are the free skating performances of the top three senior men and ladies.
Brian Joubert - 1st - 227.28
Jeremy Abbott - 2nd - 223.78
Samuel Contesti - 3rd - 221.97
Carolina Kostner - 1st - 197.73
Valentina Marchei - 2nd - 171.00
Alissa Czisny - 3rd - 152.74
Originally published in April 2012