World's best skaters descend on Quebec City
Senior events to be streamed live on icenetwork.com Dec. 9-11
|Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are looking for their first Grand Prix Final title. (Getty Images)|
With 11 countries represented, an elite field will showcase numerous Olympic and world championship veterans alongside exciting newcomers. Many of the athletes at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse at ExpoCité will contend for the podium in two years' time at the next Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
In the men's competition, defending gold medalist and 2011 world champion Patrick Chan will represent Canada. Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 world champion and Olympic bronze medalist, will return to this event after a fourth-place finish at last year's final. Jeremy Abbott of the United States won gold at the Cup of China and bronze at the Rostelecom Cup in Russia to qualify as the third seed. Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, Javier Fernandez of Spain and Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan round out the men's field.
In ladies, 14-year-old sensation Elizaveta Tuktamisheva emerged onto the Grand Prix circuit in a major fashion, winning Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard to qualify in first for the final. Qualifying in second was two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan, with a silver medal at NHK Trophy in her home country and a gold medal at the Rostelecom Cup. Last year's Grand Prix Final gold medalist Alissa Csizny of the United States, silver medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy and fourth-seeded Akiko Suzuki of Japan have all qualified once again. Alena Leonova of Russia is the final qualifier in ladies and brings a great amount of experience to the competition, including a fourth-place finish at last year's world championships.
Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are the 2011 world silver medalists and the top-ranked pairs team coming into Quebec City. The three-time world champions, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy from Germany, and the Russian team of Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov both qualified with two gold medals in their Grand Prix assignments. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford will represent Canada in pairs, having earned bronze at both of their Grand Prix assignments, Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard. Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang of China and Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan complete the powerful pairs field.
Canada has earned two entries in the ice dance category. 2010 Olympic and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold at both Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard, and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won silver at Skate Canada and silver at the Rostelecom Cup in order to qualify. Reigning world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States are returning as defending Grand Prix champions. Also representing the United States are siblings Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who won silver at Cup of China and gold at NHK Trophy. Returning to the Grand Prix Final are last year's silver medalists, France's team of Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat, as well as last year's fourth-place finishers, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia.
In the junior category, the Canadian pair team of Katherine Bobak and Ian Beharry qualified for the Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final with a silver medal in Poland and a gold in Estonia.