Team USA sends 12 skaters to Cup of China
Belbin, Agosto expected to compete for ice dancing gold
|Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto will make their 2009-10 season debut at the Cup of China. (Getty Images)|
Approximately 60 skaters from 11 countries are competing for points and prize money. Twelve skaters from the United States will compete in four disciplines: ladies, men's, pairs and ice dancing.
Icenetwork.com will provide live and on-demand coverage of the event for "Season Pass" subscribers within the contiguous United States. U.S. Figure Skating, via a joint partnership with MLB Advanced Media, has secured the exclusive U.S. broadband rights for the 2009 ISU Grand Prix Series.
In addition, Universal Sports will provide same-day coverage of select events.
The Grand Prix Series, now in its 15th 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 of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 3-6. Athletes will be vying for a total of more than $1.35 million in prize money throughout the series.
Rachael Flatt, the reigning two-time U.S. silver medalist, will compete in Beijing alongside 2008 U.S. champion Mirai Nagasu and Grand Prix veteran Bebe Liang. Flatt placed second at the Cup of Russia and fourth at Skate America last year, and is the 2008 World Junior champion. In her senior international debut, the 16-year-old Nagasu came in fifth at 2008 Skate America. She is also the 2008 World Junior bronze medalist and 2007 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) of Figure Skating Final champion. This will be Liang's third appearance at the Cup of China, where she was fifth in 2006 and sixth in 2007. The 2006 Four Continents bronze medalist placed sixth at Skate Canada and fifth at Trophée Eric Bompard last year.
Reigning world champion Evan Lysacek will look to earn his third Cup of China medal this week. He won gold at the 2006 event and silver in 2007. This will be Stephen Carriere's second appearance at the Cup of China, at which he won silver in 2008. Carriere is the 2008 U.S. bronze medalist, 2007 World Junior champion and 2006 Junior Grand Prix Final titlist. Armin Mahbanoozadeh, the 2008 JGP Final silver medalist, is making his senior international debut in Beijing. The 2007 U.S. novice champion won gold and silver medals at his 2008 Junior Grand Prix assignments in Spain and France, respectively.
Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig are the only U.S. pairs contenders at the Cup of China, where they came in fourth place last year. The two-time U.S. pewter medalists finished seventh at their other 2008 Grand Prix assignment, Skate Canada.
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the 2006 Olympic silver medalists, will make their fifth appearance at the Cup of China, where they have collected two gold and two silver medals since 2004. The five-time U.S. champions and reigning World silver medalists earned a berth to the 2008 Grand Prix Final after winning silver at both this event and Skate America last year, but they were forced to withdraw because of injury. They will be joined by 2009 U.S. junior and world junior champions Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein, who are making their senior international debut. The team won gold at their 2008 JGP assignments in Italy and Great Britain, qualifying them for the 2008 JGP Final, where they topped the medal podium.
In addition to the Cup of China, the Grand Prix Series consists of the remaining events:
NHK Trophy: Nagano, Japan - Nov. 5-8
Cancer.Net Skate America: Lake Placid, N.Y., USA - Nov. 12-15
Skate Canada: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada - Nov. 19-22
Grand Prix Final: Tokyo, Japan - Dec. 3-6