Press Release

Ice Challenge welcomes veterans, newcomers

Verner heads talented men's field in Austria

The 2008 European champion and six-time Czech champion, Tomas Verner, led the men's competition, finishing with 201.80 and the gold medal.
The 2008 European champion and six-time Czech champion, Tomas Verner, led the men's competition, finishing with 201.80 and the gold medal. (Getty Images)

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(10/27/2009) - In absence of the Karl Schäfer Memorial, the Ice Challenge will serve as the Austrian Figure Skating Federation's largest international event this season. Without clear frontrunners, save the men's event, podium toppers in Graz, Austria, may come as a surprise. Eleven U.S. athletes -- four of which will make their senior international debuts -- will vie for medals amid close competition.

Men
Leading the men's contingent in Austria will be 2008 European champion and six-time Czech Republic champion Tomas Verner, who sits fifth in the icenetwork.com World Figure Skater Rankings. Verner has collected four medals in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series since 2007, including silver at 2009 Trophée Eric Bompard. Frenchman Alban Préaubert is also a medal contender. The three-time French bronze medalist placed fifth at last year's European Figure Skating Championships and has earned three Grand Prix bronze medals since 2007. The 2004 World bronze medalist, Stefan Lindemann of Germany, will also vie for a medal in Austria. Lindemann is a six-time German champion and the 2005 Nebelhorn Trophy titlist.

Representing the United States are Douglas Razzano, who is making his senior international debut, and Shaun Rogers. Razzano won silver at his 2007 Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series assignment in Great Britain and has fourth-place finishes from his JGP stops in Estonia (2007) and Poland (2008). Rogers was runner-up at Nebelhorn in 2007 and won silver at the 2008 Finlandia Trophy.

Ladies
Elena Glebova is a four-time Estonian champion. Her best Grand Prix Series showings include sixth-place finishes at 2007 Trophée Bompard and 2008 Cup of Russia. Japan's Kanako Murakami will make her senior international debut in Austria. Murakami won her 2009 JGP assignments in Poland and Croatia. The 2008 Japanese junior bronze medalist won bronze and gold medals at her 2008 JGP stops in Spain and Great Britain, respectively, qualifying her for the JGP Final, where she finished fourth. Five-time German champion Annette Dytrt will look to improve on her 11th-place finish at the 2009 Rostelecom Cup. Dytrt won bronze at the 2008 Karl Schäfer Memorial and placed seventh at the 2009 European Championships. Also looking for a podium spot is American Amanda Dobbs, who is making her senior international debut. Dobbs won gold and bronze medals in last year's JGP Series, earning a berth to the 2008 JGP Final, where she finished seventh.

Pairs
Great Britain's Stacey Kemp and David King are four-time British champions. The pair finished fourth at the 2008 NHK Trophy, their best Grand Prix finish to date, and won the Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia. Also in medal contention are Maria Sergejeva and Ilja Glebov, the three-time Estonian champions. The team made its senior international debut at the 2008 NHK Trophy, where it finished fifth, one spot behind Kemp and King.

Representing the United States are Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin, who placed sixth at 2008 Skate America and seventh at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and Chloe Katz and Joseph Lynch, who took the silver at 2008 Coupe de Nice and placed sixth at the 2009 U.S. Championships.

Ice Dancing
Leading the ice dancing field are the German brother-sister team of Christina Beier and William Beier and four-time Czech Republic champions Kamila Hajkova and David Vincour. The Beiers are three-time German champions have twice medaled at the Nebelhorn Trophy, most recently in 2007 (silver). They finished fourth at the Finlandia Trophy earlier this month. Hajkova and Vincour finished fifth at the 2008 Karl Schäfer Memorial and sixth at the Nebelhorn Trophy. New team Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones of France are possible medal contenders, as the team has eight French medals between them. They finished ninth earlier this month at Trophée Bompard -- their first competition together.

The American teams of Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, and Trina Pratt and Chris Obzansky will also be in the medal hunt. Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt won silver at the 2008 Karl Schäfer Memorial and finished eighth at the 2009 U.S. Championships. After teaming up in 2008, Pratt and Obzansky came in seventh at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Championships.