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Men, pairs highlight field at Ondrej Nepela

Van der Perren, Contesti to vie for gold in Slovakia

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov compete this week at Ondrej Nepela.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov compete this week at Ondrej Nepela. (Getty Images)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(09/27/2011) - Two of Europe's top men's skaters and several top-notch pairs teams take the ice this week at the 2011 Ondrej Nepela Memorial in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Men's
In the mix for medals are four-time reigning Italian champion Samuel Contesti and Belgium's Kevin van der Perren, who has won three medals in six previous tries at this event.

Russia's Artem Grigoriev makes his senior international debut after having spent six seasons competing at the junior level. He won the 2009 world junior bronze medal as well as three medals on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. Japan's medal aspirations lie with Kento Nakamura, who made his international senior debut at the Four Continents Championships in February, and Daisuke Murakami.

Ladies
Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, the 2010 Junior Grand Prix Final champion and 2011 world junior champion, makes her international senior debut in Bratislava. Fifteen-year-old Sotnikova has also claimed two of the last three Russian titles.

Sotnikova will be rivaled by the likes of France's Mae Berenice Meite, who begins her second senior international season; Jenna McCorkell of Great Britain, who won silver at this event in 2004 and bronze in 2007; and Japan's Shoko Ishikawa.

Pairs
Fresh off their win at Nebelhorn, Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are set to compete in Bratislava. Their country mates, Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, will join them at Ondrej Nepela. They made the Grand Prix Final last season, finishing fourth.

Other contenders are Germany's Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende, winners of this event two years ago; Italy's Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek, who placed 10th at worlds last season; and Americans Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir.

Ice Dancing
Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi of Germany look to medal at this event for the third time, after taking gold in 2008 and bronze last season. They claimed the silver last week at Nebelhorn.

Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, the 2011 U.S. junior bronze medalists, make their international senior debuts this week. They closed last season with a seventh-place finish at the world junior championships.

Also in the mix for a medal are Italians Lorenza Alessandrini and Simone Vaturi.