The 2019 Ondrej Nepela Memorial takes place Sept. 19-21. This competition overlaps with the U.S. International Classic (Sept. 17-22). This is a non-pairs event. No Canadian skaters are currently on the rosters and just one team in ice dance — Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter — will represent the U.S. There are currently 48 skaters/teams registered for this competition: 16 men, 19 ladies and 13 ice dance teams.
The two Russian men who will compete — Dmitri Aliev and Alexander Samarin — will have to fend off Italy′s Matteo Rizzo for the top step of the podium in Bratislava. Aliev and Rizzo, who placed second and third, respectively, at 2019 Lombardia Trophy, and Samarin have the best shots at medalling. Japan′s Mitsuki Sumoto is the lone Japanese entry in the men′s field. Mikhail Kolyada has withdrawn from this competition. According to his coach, he is suffering from an acute respiratory infection.
The ladies event will be the highlight of this competition with Russia′s Alexandra Trusova, who will make her senior international debut, going up against tough senior rivals including Japan′s Kaori Sakamoto. One of those two are odds-on favorites to capture gold. Other medal contenders include Stanislava Konstantinova of Russia and Japan′s Mako Yamashita.
Victoria Sinitsyna and Nikita Katsalapov, the reigning World silver ice dance medalists and the highest-ranked team in the field, will open their season at this competition. Rounding out the top three teams are Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter of the U,.S. and Spain′s Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin. A podium finish is a definite possibility for this team, and if they skate to their potential could capture the second step.
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The ISU Challenger Series is an International Figure Skating Series, introduced during the 2014/15 season. Through ISU support, the objective is to ensure the proper and consistent organization and conduct of up to ten (10) International Competitions linked together within the ISU Challenger Series. The Series gives adequate opportunities for many Skaters to compete at the international senior level and earn World Standing Points. The Series also increases the opportunity for Officials to officiate at an international level.