Press Release

U.S. sends 21 to Rostelecom Cup, Ice Challenge

Weir, Shibutanis lead Americans into Moscow; Kriengkrairut, Giulietti-Schmitt look to repeat in Graz

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani will make their 2012 Grand Prix Series debut in Moscow.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani will make their 2012 Grand Prix Series debut in Moscow. (Getty Images)

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By U.S. Figure Skating
(11/05/2012) - Twenty-one U.S. athletes will compete at two international events this week, including Rostelecom Cup, the fourth of six events in the Grand Prix Series, and Ice Challenge, an annual senior-level competition. Rostelecom Cup is set for Nov. 9-11, in Moscow, while Ice Challenge will take place Nov. 5-10, in Graz, Austria.

NBC will broadcast Rostelecom Cup coverage of the ladies and men's free skates from 4-6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Nov. 11. Universal Sports will provide additional coverage of the singles, pairs and dance events throughout the weekend. Terry Gannon, Michael Weiss and Tara Lipinski make up the announce team.

Icenetwork.com will provide news, photos and more from both events. On-demand video of Rostelecom Cup will be available to Season Pass subscribers approximately seven days following the conclusion of the event.

2012 Rostelecom Cup

Ladies

Agnes Zawadzki leads Team USA into Moscow. The 2012 U.S. bronze medalist began her season by winning her first international gold medal at the 2012 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in September. Joining her are Gracie Gold, who made her Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada two weeks ago, and Caroline Zhang, who also competed at Skate Canada and is the 2012 Four Continents bronze medalist.

Men's

Richard Dornbush and Johnny Weir also continue their seasons in Moscow. While Rostelecom Cup will mark their first Grand Prix events of the season, Dornbush and Weir finished second and fourth, respectively, at 2012 Finlandia Trophy last month. Weir returns to the Grand Prix stage for the first time since winning bronze at the 2009 Grand Prix Final.

Pairs

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin were the first U.S. pairs team to medal at a Grand Prix event since the 2010 season when they won bronze at 2012 Skate America in October. They are the 2012 U.S. champions and 2012 Four Continents silver medalists. Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin will compete for the third time this season after finishing third at the 2012 U.S. International Classic and opening their Grand Prix season at Skate Canada.

Ice dancing

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, two-time reigning U.S. silver medalists, begin their third Grand Prix season. They are four-time Grand Prix Series medalists and placed fifth at the 2011 Grand Prix Final.

The Grand Prix Series, now in its 18th 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 up to two of the six scheduled events. The top six point-earners in each discipline qualify for the 2012 Grand Prix Final, set for Dec. 6-9, in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Athletes will compete for a total of more than $1.35 million in prize money throughout the series.

2012 Ice Challenge

Men's

Armin Mahbanoozadeh will compete for a third time this season. He won silver at the 2012 U.S. International Classic and competed at Skate America. Douglas Razzano also competed at Skate America. He will make his third Ice Challenge appearance, having finished second in 2010 and eighth in 2009.

Pairs

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir set personal-best scores in the free skate and overall in their season-opener at Skate America. They finished fifth at the most recent U.S. championships. Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff, the 2012 U.S. pewter medalists, also competed at Skate America and Nebelhorn Trophy earlier this fall.

Ice dancing

Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt are the reigning Ice Challenge champions and placed second at this event in 2009. They have competed twice this season, placing fourth at Skate America and third at the 2012 U.S. International Classic. Anastasia Olson and Keiffer Hubbell announced their partnership in April and will make their competitive debut in Graz. Olson previously skated with Jordan Cowan, while Hubbell skated with his sister, Madison, and won U.S. titles at the juvenile, intermediate and junior levels.

Rachael Flatt was originally slated to compete in the ladies division before announcing her intentions last week to sit out the rest of the 2012-13 season.

Ice Challenge is an annual ISU point-earning competition organized by the Austria Figure Skating Association. The event began in 1971 as a domestic competition and grew into an international event in 2008.