Europe's best on display at Coupe de Nice
Men's event provides the star power in France
By Mickey Brown, special to icenetwork.com
(10/13/2010) - Several of Europe's top skaters are in action this week at the Coupe de Nice in Nice, France. Russia's Alena Leonova and Italy's Valentina Marchei will vie for the top spot on the ladies podium. Leonova was third last week at the Finlandia Trophy and took the silver at this event in 2008. Marchei is the reigning Italian champion and won silver at the 2008 Coupe de Nice. Sweden's Joshi Helgesson, Poland's Anna Jurkiewicz and Russian's Sofia Biryukova also have medal aspirations. The men's event has the most star power, with four strong medal contenders. France's Alban Preaubert, a two-time Coupe de Nice silver medalist, will have the support of the crowd, but he'll have to overcome challenges from Russia's Sergei Voronov, a two-time medalist in the Grand Prix Series; reigning World Junior bronze medalist Artur Gachinski, who took the gold at last week's Finlandia Trophy; and Spain's Javier Fernandez, the 2009 Coupe de Nice bronze medalist. The top pairs to watch are Nicole della Monica and Yannick Kocon of Italy, Stacey Kemp and David King of Great Britain and Russia's Tatiana Novik and Mikhail Kuznetsov. Russian pair Katarina Gerboldt and Alexander Enbert make their international debut together. Enbert won the silver at this event last year with his former partner Ksenia Ozerova; Gerboldt is a former singles skater who competed internationally for Russia from 2004-10. Leading the dance field are France's Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones, who placed 12th at the 2010 European and World championships. Italy's Lorenza Alessandrini and Simone Vaturi were fifth at the 2010 World Junior Championships and qualified for the 2009 Junior Grand Prix Final. The other French team in the field, Zoe Blanc and Pierre-Loup Bouquet, has competed in the Grand Prix Series since 2007 and were 14th at the 2010 European Championships. The United States is sending four entries to Nice, three of whom competed at the 2010 U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships. They are Karen Zhou (U.S. Collegiate champion), Christina-Maria Sperduto (U.S. Collegiate pewter medalist), William Brewster (U.S. Collegiate bronze medalist) and dance team Katharine Zeigler and Baxter Burbank.