The first event of the Grand Prix Series will play out in Ontario, Calif. (Oct. 21-23).
The first showdown of the new season looks ready to take place in the men’s discipline. If 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek returns to competition, his presence will add even more excitement to what is shaping up to be a thrilling event.
With Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka, French star Florent Amodio and Michal Březina from the Czech Republic in the medal hunt, the men's competition will likely be fierce in California.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner headlines the ladies event. Her main competition will come from Alissa Czisny and Finland’s Laura Lepistö. It would be impossible to name a winner given the ups and downs of all three last season. Russia’s Ksenia Marakova will also be in the medal hunt and could be the dark horse in this event.
Three-time World pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy should have no trouble capturing the title. Who rises to the challenge for silver and bronze will provide the sparkle in this event. Will it be Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who will be chasing a second Skate America medal, or Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang from China? Don’t rule out the Russian team of Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White will have to fend off a challenge from French stars Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat if they hope to dance to gold. It is hard to predict who will claim the bronze, but Canada's Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam are the standouts.
THE LINE UPS:
Kevin VAN DER PERREN (BEL)
Michal BŘEZINA (CZE)
Florent AMODIO (FRA)
Samuel CONTESTI (ITA)
Takahiko KOZUKA (JPN)
Daisuke MURAKAMI (JPN)
Denis TEN (KAZ)
Richard DORNBUSH (USA)
Evan LYSACEK (USA)
Armin MAHBANOOZADEH (USA)
Elene GEDEVANISHVILI (GEO)
Carolina KOSTNER (ITA)
Valentina MARCHEI (ITA)
Haruka IMAI (JPN)
Ksenia MAKAROVA (RUS)
Joshi HELGESSON (SWE)
Viktoria HELGESSON (SWE)
Alissa CZISNY (USA)
Caroline ZHANG (USA)
Joelle FORTE (USA)
Kirsten MOORE‐TOWERS / Dylan MOSCOVITCH (CAN)
Dan ZHANG / Hao ZHANG (CHN)
Maylin HAUSCH / Daniel WENDE (GER)
Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY (GER)
Vera BAZAROVA / Yuri LARIONOV (RUS)
Caydee DENNEY / John COUGHLIN (USA) (new)
Mary Beth MARLEY Rockne BRUBAKER (USA)
Tiffany VISE/ Don BALDWIN (USA)
Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM (CAN)
Kharis RALPH / Asher HILL (CAN)
Nathalie PÉCHALAT / Fabian BOURZAT (FRA)
Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI (GER)
Ksenia MONKO / Kirill KHALIAVIN (RUS)
Isabella CANNUSCIO / Ian LORELLO (USA) (new)
Meryl DAVIS / Charlie WHITE (USA)
Madison HUBBELL/ Zachary DONOHUE (USA)
Originally published in October 2011