World Figure Skating Championships 2011 – Preview

Press release by International Skating Union

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2011 will open in Moscow, Russia, on April 25. The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2011, originally scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan in March, were moved to Russia following the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11. The ISU World Figure Skating Championships were held in Russia three times before. Moscow hosted the event in 2005 and St. Petersburg hosted the very first World Championships in history in 1896 and then again in 1903.

195 skaters/couples from 44 ISU members have been entered for the Championships. A new entry quota system which comprises two types of entries (Direct entries and Preliminary Round entries) will be used. Skaters from countries with competitors that placed in the top 18 for Singles, top 12 in Pairs and top 15 in Ice Dance in the 2010 Championships are entered directly in the Short Program or Short Dance, i.e. the first segment of the competition. Member countries that are unable to fill their quota through Direct entries may enter the remainder of their competitors in the Preliminary Round. No Preliminary Round for Pairs will be held in Moscow.

The Preliminary Round takes place before the official competition starts. The top 12 Men and 12 Ladies and the top 10 Ice Dance couples are then qualified to compete in the Short Program/Short Dance with the skaters entered through the Direct entries. In total 30 Men and Ladies (18 Direct entries and 12 Preliminary Round entries), and 25 Ice Dance couples (15 Direct entries and 10 Preliminary Round entries) compete in the first segment. Competitors placed in the top 24 in Single Skating/the top 16 Pair Skating couples and the top 20 Ice Dance couples in the Short Program/Short Dance qualify for Free Skating/Free Dance.

Overview over the top contenders

All four reigning World Champions are back and eager to defend their titles.

2010 World Champion Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) won the Four Continents Championships in February and scored a seasons best of 244.00 points in Taipei. Reigning World silver medalist and Grand Prix Final Champion Patrick Chan (CAN) has the highest seasons best of all men with 259.75 and is aiming for the top of the podium as well. Competition should come from reigning World bronze medalist Brian Joubert (FRA/seasons best 223.01), Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Takahiko Kozuka (JPN/seasons best 248.07), Grand Prix Final silver medalist Nobunari Oda (JPN/seasons best 242.81 points), European Champion Florent Amodio (FRA/seasons best 229.38), European bronze medalist Tomas Verner (CZE/seasons best 230.31).

In the Ladies’ event, reigning World Champion Mao Asada (JPN) will meet Olympic Champion and World silver medalist Yuna Kim (KOR) for the first time since the 2010 World Championships as Kim hasn’t competed yet this season. Asada has posted a seasons best of 196.30 points. 2007 World Champion Miki Ando (JPN) beat Asada to win the Four Continents Championships earlier this year and travels with a seasons best of 201.34 points to Russia. Other podium contenders include Grand Prix Final Champion Alissa Czsiny (USA/seasons best 180.75), three-time European Champion Carolina Kostner (ITA/seasons best 178.60), European bronze medalist Kiira Korpi (FIN/seasons best 169.74). Others to watch out for are Rachael Flatt (USA/seasons best 180.31), 2010 World Junior Champion Kanako Murakami (JPN/seasons best 178.59) and Ksenia Makarova (RUS/seasons best 165.00).

Reigning World Pairs Champions Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN) will face stiff competition from current World silver medalists Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER). The Germans posted a seasons best of 210.72 points when they won the ISU Grand Prix Final while the Chinese couple won the Four Continents Championships with a seasons best of 199.45 points. Two-time and reigning World bronze medalists Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS/seasons best 203.61) are eager to challenge the champions on home turf. Other contenders include European bronze medalists Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (RUS/seasons best 188.24 points), 2011 Four Continents silver medalists Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN/seasons best 181.79). Russian Champions Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov will debut at ISU Championships as a team but are expected to challenge for a medal. The event also features reigning World Junior bronze medalists Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran (JPN), Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA), U.S. Champions Caitlin Yankowskas/John Coughlin and Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig (USA).

In the Ice Dance event, reigning World and Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) are up against World and Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA). While the American dancers scored a seasons best of 172.03 points at the Four Continents Championships and won the Grand Prix Final, the Canadian couple withdrew from their only competition this season, the Four Continents Championships, due to injury in the middle of the Free Dance citing injury. European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA/seasons best 167.40) are challenging for their first World podium. Others to watch include European silver medalists Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS/seasons best 161.14), Four Continents silver medalists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA/seasons best 155.38), 2010 World Junior Champions Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS/seasons best 153.48) and Grand Prix Final bronze medalists Vanessa Crone/Paul Poirier (CAN/seasons best 154.42).

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