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Full Grand Prix assignments released by ISU

Series starts with star-studded Skate America in October

World champion Mao Asada will skate in France and Japan this season.
World champion Mao Asada will skate in France and Japan this season. (Getty Images)

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By Todd Hinckley
(06/14/2008) - The International Skating Union (ISU) announced the dates, locations and skater selections for the 2008-09 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series on Saturday morning at a meeting in Monaco.

The GP Series, now in its 14th season, includes six events that are held in six countries all over the world. Skaters acquire points through their finish in each appearance, and at the end of the six competitions, the top-six finishers in ladies, men's, pairs and ice dancing will head to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, to be held Dec. 10-14 in Seoul, Korea.

There are several interesting match-ups in this year's pairings, and they will make for thrilling competitions throughout the season. Icenetwork.com gives you a snapshot of the upcoming season.

Skate America
October 24-26, 2008
Everett, Wash.

The Grand Prix Series begins in the Pacific Northwest in Everett, Wash., about 30 miles north of Seattle. The United States will send a particularly strong contingent of skaters to the event on home ice, with the national champions in all four disciplines -- Mirai Nagasu, Evan Lysacek, Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto -- scheduled to appear. The U.S. is also sending defending champion Kimberly Meissner, world bronze medalist Johnny Weir, and world junior champions Rachael Flatt, Adam Rippon, Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates.

But the top competition will not be coming from the States alone. World bronze medalist Yu-Na Kim will be making her first career appearance at Skate America. Two of Japan's best ladies, 2007 world champion Miki Ando and Yukari Nakano, will add to the intense ladies competition.

In the pairs field, McLaughlin and Brubaker will face a stiff test from fellow Americans Rena Inoue and John Baldwin and world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.

Belbin and Agosto will take their first crack at world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder in the ice dancing competition.

Here are the full assignments:

Skate America — Everett, Wash. — Oct. 24-26
Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dancing
Mira Leung, CAN Sergei Davydov, BLR Meagan Duhamel and
Craig Buntin, CAN
Kristin Fraser and
Igor Lukanin, AZE
Yan Liu, CHN Kevin van der Perren, BEL Yue Zang and
Lei Wang, CHN
Allie Hann-McCurdy and
Michael Coreno, CAN
Susanna Pöykiö, FIN Christopher Mabee, CAN Aliona Savchenko and
Robin Szolkowy, GER
Pernelle Carron and
Mathieu Jost, FRA
Annette Dytrt, GER Kevin Reynolds, CAN Dominika Piatkowska and
Dmitri Khromin, POL
Isabelle Delobel and
Olivier Schoenfelder, FRA
Valentina Marchei, ITA Shawn Sawyer, CAN Maria Mukhortova and
Maxim Trankov, RUS
Sinead Kerr and
John Kerr, GBR
Miki Ando, JPN Chengjiang Li, CHN Rena Inoue and
John Baldwin, USA
Katherine Copely and
Deividas Stagniunas, LTU
Yukari Nakano, JPN Takahiko Kozuka, JPN Keauna McLaughlin and
Rockne Brubaker, USA
Maria Monko and
Ilia Tkachenko, RUS
Yu-Na Kim, KOR Andrei Griazev, RUS Caitlin Yankowskas and
John Coughlin, USA
Tanith Belbin and
Ben Agosto, USA
Tugba Karademir, TUR Adrian Schultheiss, SWE Emily Samuelson and
Evan Bates, USA
Rachael Flatt, USA Evan Lysacek, USA TBA, USA
Kimberly Meissner, USA Adam Rippon, USA
Mirai Nagasu, USA Johnny Weir, USA

Skate Canada
Oct. 30-Nov 2, 2008
Ottawa, Canada

Like the Americans at Skate America, the Canadians will be sending a very strong group to their home event, headlined by world champion Jeffrey Buttle. He will have to fight for the men's gold, though, because he'll be joined by countryman Patrick Chan, who wrestled away the Canadian national title last January. Two-time world champion Stéphane Lambiel will make his first appearance under new coaches Galina Zmievskaya and Viktor Petrenko. Lysacek will also be in Ottawa, competing for the second straight week.

World silver medalist Carolina Kostner will be at Skate Canada for the first time since 2005. The hometown favorite will be Joannie Rochette, while Caroline Zhang will be starting her second senior Grand Prix season.

Leading the pairs field are world bronze medalists Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison, Canadian national champs Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay, Russian national champs Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov and U.S. champs McLaughlin and Brubaker.

Canada's young couple Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the world silver medalists, will be the favorites in Ottawa in the ice dancing competition, while the American couples -- Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre -- will try to upset them.

Here are the full assignments:

Skate Canada — Ottawa, Canada — Oct. 30-Nov. 2
Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dancing
Cynthia Phaneuf, CAN Jeffrey Buttle, CAN Jessica Dubé and
Byrce Davison, CAN
Vanessa Crone and
Paul Poirier, CAN
Joannie Rochette, CAN Patrick Chan, CAN Anabelle Langlois and
Cody Hay, CAN
Tessa Virtue and
Scott Moir, CAN
Myriane Samson, CAN TBA, CAN TBA, CAN TBA, CAN
Kiira Korpi, FIN Yannick Ponsero, FRA Huibo Dong and
Yiming Wu, CHN
Nathalie Pechalat and
Fabian Bourzat, FRA
Jenni Vähämaa, FIN Karel Zelenka, ITA Dominika Piatkowska and
Dmitri Khromin, POL
Cathy Reed and
Chris Reed, JPN
Jenna McCorkell, GBR Yasuharu Nanri, JPN Yuko Kawaguchi and
Alexander Smirnov, USA
Ekaterina Bobrova and
Dmitri Soloviev, RUS
Carolina Kostner, ITA Vladimir Uspenski, RUS Keauna McLaughlin and
Rockne Brubaker, USA
Kristina Gorshkova and
Vitali Butikov, RUS
Fumie Suguri, JPN Sergei Voronov, RUS Jessica Rose Paetsch and
Jon Nuss, USA
Meryl Davis and
Charlie White, USA
Nana Takeda, JPN Stéphane Lambiel, SUI Kimberly Navarro and
Brent Bommentre, USA
Alissa Czisny, USA Evan Lysacek, USA Jennifer Wester and
Daniil Barantsev, USA
Bebe Liang, USA Brandon Mroz, USA
Caroline Zhang, USA Ryan Bradley, USA

Cup of China
Nov. 6-9, 2008
Beijing, China

The top Chinese pairs make their first appearance of the GP season in Beijing. World silver medalists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang and Four Continents champions Qing Pang and Jian Tong will fight for gold.

In the ladies event, Kim and Ando return to the ice, while Finnish national champ Laura Lepistö opens her second Grand Prix season. Sarah Meier will also be making her first 2008-09 appearance.

Buttle will skate for the second straight week, and he will receive some stiff competition in China, particularly from Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, the Czech Republic's Tomas Verner, and Americans Jeremy Abbott and Stephen Carriere.

In ice dancing, Belbin and Agosto will skate in their second event, and they will face the two top Russian teams -- Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin and Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski.

Here are the full assignments:

Cup of China — Beijing, China — Nov. 6-9
Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dancing
Mira Leung, CAN Jeffrey Buttle, CAN Mylène Brodeur and
John Mattatall, CAN
Kaitlyn Weaver and
Andrew Poje, CAN
Yan Liu, CAN Vaughn Chipeur, CAN Jiaqi Li and
Jiankun Xu, CHN
Jiameimei Guo and
Fei Meng, CHN
Yueren Wang, CHN Song Gao, CHN Qing Pang and
Jian Tong, CHN
Xintong Huang and
Xun Zheng, CHN
Laura Lepistö, FIN Ming Xu, CHN Dan Zhang and
Hao Zhang, CHN
Xiaoyang Yu and
Chen Wang, CHN
Susanna Pöykiö, FIN Jialiang Wu, CHN Ksenia Krasilnikova and
Konstantin Bezmaternikh, RUS
Alexandra Zaretski and
Roman Zaretski, ISR
Julia Sebestyen, HUN Tomas Verner, CZE Tatiana Volosozhar and
Stanislav Morozov, UKR
Anna Cappellini and
Luca Lanotte, ITA
Miki Ando, JPN Kensuke Nakaniwa, JPN Brooke Castile and
Ben Okolski, USA
Oksana Domnina and
Maxim Shabalin, RUS
Yu-Na Kim, KOR Daisuke Takahashi, JPN Amanda Evora and
Mark Ladwig, USA
Jana Khokhlova and
Sergei Novitski, RUS
Alena Leonova, RUS Artem Borodulin, RUS Anna Zadorozhniuk and
Sergei Verbillo, UKR
Sarah Meier, SUI Kristoffer Berntsson, SWE Tanith Belbin and
Ben Agosto, USA
Katrina Hacker, USA Jeremy Abbott, USA
Ashley Wagner, USA Stephen Carriere, USA

Trophee Eric Bompard
Nov. 14-16, 2008
Paris, France

The French skaters take center stage in Paris, with world silver medalist Brian Joubert opening his 2008-09 season alongside countryman Alban Préaubert. Lambiel will make his second appearance of the season, and Chan will try to defend his surprising Paris title from '07.

World champion Mao Asada will make her 2008-09 Grand Prix debut in Paris, and she'll face competition for the podium from Rochette, Zhang and Emily Hughes, for whom this will be the only Grand Prix event of the season.

The French teams also highlight the dance card, with world champs Delobel and Schoenfelder, as well as Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost, competing in Paris. Great Britain's Sinead Kerr and John Kerr will vy for a podium spot, as will Italy's Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali, who will be making their 2008-09 GP debut.

World champions Savchenko and Szolkowy will be skating for the second time, and they are the cream of the pairs crop in France. A trio of French teams will try to skate well in front of the home crowd, while Russia's Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov will try to crash the party with Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin.

Here are the full assignments:

Trophee Eric Bompard — Paris, France — Nov. 14-16
Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dancing
Joannie Rochette, CAN Patrick Chan, CAN Meagan Duhamel and
Craig Buntin, CAN
Kristin Fraser and
Igor Lukanin, AZE
Binshu Xu, CHN Jinlin Guan, CHN Huibo Dong and
Yiming Wu, CHN
Vanessa Crone and
Paul Poirier, CAN
Kiira Korpi, FIN Brian Joubert, FRA Adeline Canac and
Maximin Coia, FRA
Zoe Blanc and
Pierre-Loup Bouquet, FRA
Candice Didier, FRA Kim Lucine, FRA Mélodie Châtaigner and
Medhi Bouzzine, FRA
Pernelle Carron and
Mathieu Jost, FRA
Gwendoline Didier, FRA Alban Préaubert, FRA Vanessa James and
Yannick Bonheur, FRA
Isabelle Delobel and
Olivier Schoenfelder, FRA
Elene Gedevanishvili, GEO Peter Liebers, GER Aliona Savchenko and
Robin Szolkowy, GER
Sinead Kerr and
John Kerr, GBR
Valentina Marchei, ITA Takahiko Kozuka, JPN Maria Mukhortova and
Maxim Trankov, RUS
Federica Faiella and
Massimo Scali, ITA
Mao Asada, JPN Andrei Griazev, RUS Tiffany Vise and
Derek Trent, USA
Maria Monko and
Ilia Tkachenko, RUS
Emily Hughes, USA Gregor Urbas, SLO Ekaterina Rubleva and
Ivan Shefer, RUS
Bebe Liang, USA Stéphane Lambiel, SUI Jennifer Wester and
Daniil Barantsev, USA
Caroline Zhang, USA Ryan Bradley, USA
Anastasia Gimazetdinova, UZB Brandon Mroz, USA

Cup of Russia
Nov. 20-23, 2008
Moscow, Russia

The Russians get the home-ice advantage in Moscow, and their top two dance teams will be there to try to benefit from it. Domnina and Shabalin and Khokhlova and Novitski will each be performing for the second time on the GP circuit. U.S. silver medalists Davis and White, as well as the Israeli brother-and-sister duo, Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski, will add depth to the field.

In pairs, Kawaguchi and Smirnov will square off with one of China's top teams, Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang. 2007 U.S. champions Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski, skating for the second time in 2008-09, will be trying for the first Grand Prix podium of their young careers.

Italy's Kostner will headline the ladies field, with Switzerland's Meier and America's Flatt and Meissner providing the competition.

European champion Verner and 2007 world champion Joubert will lead the men in Moscow, but Russian champion Voronov will hope to grab gold in the Motherland. Belgium's Kevin van der Perren will also have a shot at the podium.

Here are the full assignments:

Cup of Russia — Moscow, Russia — Nov. 20-23
Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dancing
Elena Glebova, EST Kevin van der Perren, BEL Monica Pisotta and
Michael Stewart, CAN
Allie Hann-McCurdy and
Michael Coreno, CAN
Jenni Vähämaa, FIN Vaughn Chipeur, CAN Amanda Velenosi and
Mark Fernandez, CAN
Zoe Blanc and
Pierre-Loup Bouquet, FRA
Julia Sebestyen, HUN Chengjiang Li, CHN Dan Zhang and
Hao Zhang, CHN
Alexandra Zaretski and
Roman Zaretski, ISR
Carolina Kostner, ITA Tomas Verner, CZE Lubov Iliushechkina and
Nodari Maisuradze, RUS
Anna Cappellini and
Luca Lanotte, ITA
Fumie Suguri, JPN Brian Joubert, FRA Yuko Kawaguchi and
Alexander Smirnov, RUS
Katherine Copely and
Deividas Stagniunas, LTU
Nana Takeda, JPN Alban Préaubert, FRA Arina Ushakova and
Sergei Karev, RUS
Oksana Domnina and
Maxim Shabalin, RUS
Ksenia Doronina, RUS Artem Borodulin, RUS Tatiana Volosozhar and
Stanislav Morozov, UKR
Jana Khokhlova and
Sergei Novitski, RUS
Nina Petushkova, RUS Alexander Uspenski, RUS Brooke Castile and
Ben Okolski, USA
Natalia Mikhailova and
Arkadi Sergeev, RUS
TBA, RUS Sergei Voronov, RUS Anna Zadorozhniuk and
Sergei Verbillo, UKR
Sarah Meier, SUI Kristoffer Berntsson, SWE Meryl Davis and
Charlie White, USA
Rachael Flatt, USA Jeremy Abbott, USA
Kimberly Meissner, USA Adam Rippon, USA

NHK Trophy
Nov. 27-30, 2008
Tokyo, Japan

World champion Asada and Four Continents champion Takahashi lead the Japanese contingent at the NHK Trophy. Asada will be chased by countrywoman Nakano in the ladies event. U.S. champion Nagasu will be joined by teammates Ashley Wagner and Katrina Hacker, and they will all compete for the podium.

Takahashi will be joined Nobunari Oda, who will be making his first Grand Prix appearance since his DUI in the summer of 2007. Also appearing in Tokyo and fighting for the podium will be Americans Weir and Carriere.

China's Pang and Tong and Canada's Dubé and Davison will be the favorites in the pairs competition, with veterans Inoue and Baldwin of the U.S. their main competition.

Canada will also have the leading dance team in Japan -- Virtue and Moir. There will be strong competition for the podium, though, from France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, Italy's Faiella and Scali, and America's Navarro and Bommentre and Samuelson and Bates.

Here are the full assignments:

NHK Trophy — Tokyo, Japan — Nov. 27-30
Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dancing
Cynthia Phaneuf, CAN Sergei Davydov, BLR Jessica Dubé and
Bryce Davison, CAN
Tessa Virtue and
Scott Moir, CAN
Laura Lepistö, FIN Christopher Mabee, CAN Anabelle Langlois and
Cody Hay, CAN
Kaitlyn Weaver and
Andrew Poje, CAN
Annette Dytrt, GER Kevin Reynolds, CAN Qing Pang and
Jian Tong, CHN
Xiaoyang Yu and
Chen Wang, CHN
Mao Asada, JPN Jinlin Guan, CHN Maria Sergejeva and
Ilja Glebov, EST
Nathalie Pechalat and
Fabian Bourzat, FRA
Yukari Nakano, JPN Yannick Ponsero, FRA Stacey Kemp and
David King, GBR
Federica Faiella and
Massimo Scali, ITA
Akiko Suzuki, JPN Takahito Mura, JPN Ekaterina Sheremetieva and
Mikhail Kuznetsov, RUS
Cathy Reed and
Chris Reed, RUS
Na-Young Kim, KOR Nobunari Oda, JPN Rena Inoue and
John Baldwin, USA
Ekaterina Bobrova and
Dmitri Soloviev, RUS
Katarina Gerboldt, RUS Daisuke Takahashi, JPN MeeRan Trombley and
Laureano Ibarra, USA
Kristina Gorshkova and
Vitali Butikov, RUS
Katrina Hacker, USA Andrei Lutai, RUS Kimberly Navarro and
Brent Bommentre, USA
Mirai Nagasu, USA Adrian Schultheiss, SWE Emily Samuelson and
Evan Bates, USA
Ashley Wagner, USA Stephen Carriere, USA
Anastasia Gimazetdinova, UZB Johnny Weir, USA