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Three World Champions Headline 2009 Cancer.Net Skate America 2009

The 2009/2010 Grand Prix Series moves to Lake Placid, New York for the fifth event of the Grand Prix Series.

Cancer.Net Skate America International will take center stage November 13-16, 2009, at the Herb Brooks Arena — the rink where the 1980 Olympics were held. Top competitors from around the globe will be on hand to delight fans with their technical skills and wizardry on ice. Approximately, sixty skaters from nineteen countries will be on hand in Lake Placid. The skater’s will compete for a global purse of 180,000 USD and can earn valuable points according to placement in the event. Points will determine who qualifies for this season’s Grand Prix Final, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan in December. The top six competitors/teams with the most points at the end of the qualifying events will move on to a head-to-head battle at the final.

The men’s event will be headlined by 2009 World Champion Evan Lysacek who competed two weeks ago in China. Lysacek delivered two powerful skates in China, but was unable to match the musicality and interpretation of Nobunari Oda of Japan. Lysacek placed second at that event and hopes to snatch a spot in the final here at Skate America.

The biggest obstacle in Lysacek’s way to the gold should be Czech skater Tomas Verner, who finished fourth at the World Championships in Los Angeles last March. This is also Verner’s second event of the season. He placed second at the opening Grand Prix in Paris. Both men are vying for spots in the final.

The third spot should be up for grabs and a number of skaters could rise to the occasion. Shawn Sawyer of Canada has superior musicality and his flexibility is remarkable, but struggles with consistency. Andre Lutai of Russia has solid jumps but also can be inconsistent and lacks the polish of Sawyer. Reigning Skate Canada silver medalist Ryan Bradley will surely be the most charismatic in the field, but must hit the jumps when it counts. U.S. silver medalist Brandon Mroz hopes to overcome a disappointing competition after placing seventh in Russia earlier this season. Junior Grand Prix Champion Florent Amodio is competing in his second Grand Prix event of the season and is hoping to improve on his performance here in Lake Placid.

Yu-Na Kim is clearly the front-runner in the ladies’ field. The reigning World Champion should eclipse the field by at least fifteen points. If all goes as planned Kim will pick up a second gold medal here to qualify for the final.

2008 World Junior Champion Rachael Flatt is America’s best hope for a ladies’ medal here in Lake Placid. The two-time U.S. silver medalist is hoping to build on a fourth place finish at Cup of China earlier this season. Also in the field are former Olympians Emily Hughes of the USA, Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia, Julia Sebestyn of Hungary and Fumie Suguri of Japan. Sebestyn won the short program in Moscow, but then slid to sixth place overall after a disappointing free skate. Suguri, the 2006 World silver medalist had a disappointing start to her season placing seventh at Cup of China. Gedevanishvilli placed seventh at Trophee Bompard. This is Hughes first international event of the season.

Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto are hoping to pull off a second gold medal performance and will have the home court advantage here in Lake Placid in their favor. They will face stiff challenges from European Champions Jana Khoklova and Sergei Novitski and Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. Khoklova and Novitski took silver in China and are hoping to grab a return trip to the Final. Cappellini and Lanotte picked up silver at Cup of Russia and also have a shot at the Final.

Two-time Olympic bronze medalists and 2007 World Champions Xue Shen and Hongbao Zhao will again battle their teammates Olympic silver medalists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang. Shen and Zhao eclipsed their compatriots in China by a huge margin in their opening comeback performance. Ukranian’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov should clinch the third spot, but should the Chinese falter on their elements, Volosozhar and Morozov will clearly be there to capitalize on the mistakes. The dark horse’s in the event are American Champions Keauna Mclaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, Megan Duhamel and Craig Buntin, and 2007 American Champions Brooke Castile and Benjamin Okolski.

The event kicks off Friday with the compulsory dance, followed by the Pairs and men’s short program.

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