Mahbanoozadeh, McCorkell headline field in Graz
U.S. ice dancers Olson, Hubbell to make competitive debut at Ice Challenge
|Armin Mahbanoozadeh goes for his second international medal of the season in Graz. (Getty Images)|
Leading the ladies will be Jenna McCorkell of Great Britain, who won gold last month at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial in Bratislava, Slovakia. Battling McCorkell will be Monika Simancikova of Slovakia, who finished second at Ondrej Nepela, and Sweden's Isabelle Olsson, who finished third at the 2012 Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Mahbanoozadeh, who won silver at the 2012 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in September, hopes to return to the podium after a seventh-place finish at 2012 Skate America. Joining Mahbanoozadeh in the medal hunt is Uzbekistan's Misha Ge, who earned silver at both Ice Challenge and the Istanbul Cup last year. Also hoping to stand on the podium is Mahbanoozadeh's teammate, Douglas Razzano, the 2010 Ice Challenge silver medalist, and Viktor Pfeifer of Austria, who won bronze at this event last year.
Hoping for the top spot in the pairs event is Team USA's Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who finished fifth at Skate America last month. Challenging Castelli and Shnapir are Danielle Montalbano and Evgeni Krasnopolski of Israel, who won bronze at both Ice Challenge and Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia, last year. Also fighting for a medal are Stina Martini and Severin Kiefer of Austria, who won bronze at Ice Challenge last year, and Castelli and Shnapir's teammates, Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff, who finished fourth at the 2012 Nebelhorn Trophy.
Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt look to defend their title after winning last year's event by nearly four points. The duo won bronze at the inaugural U.S. International Classic and finished fourth last month at Skate America. Also looking for medals are Danielle O'Brien and Gregory Merriman of Australia, who finished just off the podium at last month's Ondrej Nepela Memorial, and Irina Shtork and Taavi Rand of Estonia, who finished fifth at the 2012 Finlandia Trophy. Joining Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt on Team USA are Anastasia Olson and Keiffer Hubbell, who will make their international debut at the event.