Press Release

Grand Prix Series concludes in Tokyo

60 skaters from 16 countries are competing for points and prize money

Reigning world junior champions Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates are in their first season in the Grand Prix Series.
Reigning world junior champions Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates are in their first season in the Grand Prix Series. (courtesy of Evan Bates)

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(11/26/2008) - The 2008 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series concludes with its sixth event, the NHK Trophy, in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 27-30. Approximately 60 skaters from 16 countries are competing for points and prize money. The NHK Trophy, which will take place at the National Yoyogi Stadium, begins Friday with the compulsory dance.

**Note: icenetwork.com's coverage begins with the pairs short program at 1:35 a.m. ET. Compulsory dance will not be shown.

Thirteen U.S. skaters will compete in four disciplines: ladies, men's, pairs and ice dancing. The U.S. team hails from eight different states: California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia.

The Grand Prix Series, now in its 14th 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 of the disciplines then qualify for the Grand Prix Final which will be combined with the Junior Grand Prix Final this year in Goyang City, Republic of Korea, Dec. 10-14. Athletes will be vying for a total of more than $1.35 million in prize money throughout the series.

At last week's Cup of Russia, Team USA took home two medals, with Rachael Flatt collecting the ladies silver medal, and Meryl Davis and Charlie White securing bronze in ice dancing. Davis and White clinched a spot in next month's ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final as did Jeremy Abbott, who placed fourth in Moscow.

LADIES
Reigning U.S. champion and world junior bronze medalist Mirai Nagasu is competing in her first Grand Prix Series. She finished fifth at Skate America last month. Joining her is U.S. bronze medalist Ashley Wagner, who finished fourth three weeks ago at the Cup of China. Last season, she won bronze at Trophée Eric Bompard and finished fifth at Skate Canada. Also competing in Tokyo is Katrina Hacker, who made her Grand Prix Series debut at the Cup of China, finishing eighth. She placed sixth at both the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the 2008 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

MEN
Three-time U.S. champion and reigning world bronze medalist Johnny Weir won silver last month at Skate America. He is joined by U.S. bronze medalist Stephen Carriere, who won the silver two weeks ago at the Cup of China. The 2007 world junior champion won the bronze at last season's NHK Trophy.

PAIRS
This is the third appearance at the NHK Trophy for U.S. silver medalists Rena Inoue and John Baldwin. The pair finished fourth at the event in 2003 and 2004. Joining them, and making their Grand Prix Series debut, are MeeRan Trombley and Laureano Ibarra, who finished 10th at the 2008 U.S. Championships.

ICE DANCING
Reigning world junior champions Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates are in their first season in the Grand Prix Series. The team, which finished fourth last month at Skate America, had a successful showing in the 2007 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series, winning gold at the events in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Austria, and earning the silver at the Junior Grand Prix Final in Poland. Joining them are 2008 U.S. and Four Continents bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre. They finished sixth at the 2007 NHK Trophy.

In addition to the NHK Trophy, the Grand Prix Series consists of the Grand Prix Final: Goyang City, Republic of Korea -- Dec. 10-14.

Fans in the U.S. can watch live coverage of the NHK Trophy on icenetwork.com, kicking off with the pairs short program on Friday, Nov. 28, at 1:35 a.m. ET. Check out the complete NHK Trophy broadcast schedule.