Skate America kicks off the 2020 Grand Prix Series in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 23-25. The Orleans Arena will once again host the competition. Due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, no spectators will be permitted to attend. This event takes place on the same dates as the third stage of the Russian Cup, and the Gran Premio Italia 2020. The men′s final in Sochi will overlap the rhythm dance in Las Vegas on Oct. 24.
Skate America will be live streamed in the U.S. and Canada. There has been no confirmation at this time that the ISU Channel will beam the competition around the globe, but it is understood that the competition will be available to everyone in one format or another.
Nathan Chen headlines a predominantly American men′s field and will be unchallenged in his quest to claim a fourth consecutive Skate America crown. Michal Březina of the Czech Republic has withdrawn due to injury. Vincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi of the U.S. and Canada′s Keegan Messing are podium contenders, but one of the rising stars could steal the show in Las Vegas. Reigning U.S. junior champion Maxim Naumov and Ilia Malinin and Joseph Kang will make their senior debuts at this competition.
Mariah Bell and Bradie Tennell will battle it out for the top step of the podium. Both finished ahead of reigning national champion Alysa Liu at the U.S. ISP Challenge in early October, as did Amber Glenn. Liu will not be age eligible for senior competitions until the 2021-2022 season.
Third place is wide open — of the 10 other American ladies in the field, Amber Glenn and Karen Chen would be the top picks to claim bronze. Gracie Gold will make her first appearance at a Skate America competition since 2016.
The pairs competition will be interesting with seven U.S. duos battling it out for top honors. Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson kicked off the season with two wins at the U.S. ISP Challenge in late September and early October and are the top-ranked team in this field. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who joined forces in the off-season, are already showing a lot of promise. The duo finished second in both outings of the ISP Challenge ahead of a number of established teams.
Russia′s Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov where scheduled to contest the pairs event in Las Vegas, but Morozov caught the coronavirus in September and was off the ice for three weeks. ″We were supposed to perform at the Grand Prix stage in America, but we did not have time to prepare for it, so we will skip this stage. And participation at the Grand Prix in Russia does not fit into our plans,″ said coach Maxim Trankov.
In an all-U.S. ice dance field, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are a sure bet to claim the top step of the podium, following the withdrawal of Madison Chock and Evan Bates on Oct. 9. In a press release, the couple said their ″training and preparation have been affected by the pandemic and at this time we are 100 percent focused on our preparation for the 2021 U.S. Championships. We will be staying at our training base in Montreal.″
Three teams are in the running to capture the second and third steps: Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, Christine Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko and Caroline Green and Michael Parsons.
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