The 2011/2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating continues this Friday with NHK Trophy in Sapporo, Japan. NHK Trophy is the fourth of six events in the series. The skaters compete for a global prize money of US $ 180, 000 per individual event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and receive points according to their placements.
While several skaters compete in their second Grand Prix event and are hoping to secure their spot in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, others are entering the series just now.
2010 World Champion Mao Asada (JPN) leads the Ladies and will debute her new programs in competition here in Sapporo. Competition should come from Akiko Suzuki (JPN) and Ashley Wagner (USA), who won the silver and the bronze medals at Skate Canada two weeks ago. Both have a good shot to qualify for the Final. Alena Leonova (RUS) wants to improve from her fourth place finish at Skate Canada. European bronze medallist Kiira Korpi (FIN) and Agnes Zawadzki (USA) enter the Grand Prix series now.
Three-time World Champions Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) will meet 2010 European Champions Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) in the Pairs event. Both couples won their first Grand Prix this season: The Germans struck gold at Skate America while the Russians come fresh off their victory at Cup of China last week. Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran (JPN), Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA), Lubov Iliushechkina/Nodari Maisuradze (RUS) and Caydee Denney/John Coughlin (USA) want to challenge for the podium as well.
World ice dance bronze medallists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) will face competition from Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) and Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS). Shibutani/Shibutani and Weaver/Poje claimed silver medals at Cup of China and Skate Canada respectively and want to assure their spot in the Final. Ilinykh/Katsalapov will compete in their first event this season. Other contenders include Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi (GER) and Lorenza Alessandrini/Simone Vaturi (ITA). The full list of entries is available at www.isu.org
The schedule of NHK Trophy is as follows:
Friday, November 11: Short Dance, Ladies and Pairs Short Program
Saturday, November 12: Free Dance, Men's Short Program, Ladies and Pairs Free Skating
Sunday, November 13: Men's Free Skating, Exhibition Gala
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day