Press Release

2010 Grand Prix Series kicks off with NHK Trophy

First Grand Prix Series event of the season in Nagoya

Rachael Flatt will compete for gold at the NHK Trophy in Nagoya, Japan.
Rachael Flatt will compete for gold at the NHK Trophy in Nagoya, Japan. (Getty Images)

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By U.S. Figure Skating
(10/19/2010) - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The 2010 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series begins this week with the NHK Trophy in Nagoya, Japan. Thirteen athletes from Team USA will compete against skaters from 14 other countries, all vying for points and prize money in this first of six events in the series.

Competition begins Friday, Oct. 22 at the Nihon Gaishi Arena with the short dance and the ladies and pairs short programs.

Icenetwork.com will provide live and on-demand coverage of the NHK Trophy for Season Pass subscribers within the contiguous United States.

Live streaming times for icenetwork.com can be found here.

The Grand Prix Series, now in its 16th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative point-scoring format. Approximately 300 athletes from 30 countries are expected to participate in the series. Each athlete is eligible to score points in two of the six scheduled events. The top six point-earners in each the discipline qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Beijing, China, Dec. 9-12. Athletes will compete for a total of more than $1.35 million in prize money throughout the series.

LADIES
Rachael Flatt leads the ladies contingent in Japan. Flatt's 2009 Grand Prix season consisted of a fourth-place finish at Cup of China and a silver-medal win at 2009 Cancer.Net Skate America. Her gold medal at the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships helped earn her a trip to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she finished seventh.

Ashley Wagner, the 2010 U.S. bronze medalist, will make her third appearance at the NHK Trophy; she finished fourth at the event in 2008 and won the bronze in 2009. Her silver-medal finish at the 2009 Rostelecom Cup combined with her bronze medal at the 2009 NHK Trophy qualified her for the 2009 Grand Prix Final, where she finished fourth. This is the first appearance at the NHK Trophy for 2007 World Junior champion Caroline Zhang, who last season finished fourth at Trophée Eric Bompard and eighth at Skate Canada.

MEN
Reigning two-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott finished fifth at the NHK Trophy last season. This finish combined with his gold medal at 2009 Skate Canada qualified Abbott for the 2009 Grand Prix Final, where he finished fourth. In 2008, Abbott became the first American man to win the Grand Prix Final.

Joining Abbott is 2009 U.S. junior champion Ross Miner, who is making his senior international debut in Japan. Miner enjoyed a successful season on the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) circuit in 2009, winning gold in Lake Placid, N.Y., silver in Croatia and bronze at the JGP Final.

PAIRS
Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett look to improve on their fourth-place finish at last season's NHK Trophy. The team followed their fifth-place finish at Skate Canada with a win at the U.S. Championships, a result that helped earn them a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin begin their second season on the Grand Prix circuit. The team made their Grand Prix debut last season at Skate Canada, where they finished seventh. They finished sixth at the 2010 U.S. Championships and wrapped up their season with a fourth-place finish at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

ICE DANCING
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2010 Olympic silver medalists, pulled off a gold-medal sweep in the Grand Prix series last season, finishing first at the Rostelecom Cup, NHK Trophy and Grand Prix Final. Their silver at the 2010 Olympic Games was followed by a medal of the same color at the World Championships. New to the senior circuit are siblings Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. The 2010 U.S. junior champions won gold last season at the JGP events in Lake Placid and Croatia, and bronze at the JGP Final. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the 2010 U.S. bronze medalists and 2010 Olympians, had been assigned to the NHK Trophy but recently withdrew from the Grand Prix season following an injury to Bates' Achilles tendon.

In addition to the NHK Trophy, the Grand Prix Series consists of the remaining events: • Skate Canada: Kingston, Ontario, Canada - Oct. 29-31
• Cup of China: Beijing, China - Nov. 5-7
• Skate America: Portland, Ore., USA - Nov. 12-14
• Rostelecom Cup: Moscow, Russia - Nov. 19-21
• Trophée Eric Bompard: Paris, France - Nov. 26-28
• Grand Prix Final: Beijing, China - Dec. 9-12