Stars align at Skate America 2018 - Preview

Nathan Chen leads a strong U.S. team into the first event of the 2018 ISU Grand Prix in Everett, Washington.

Skate America is here.

Traditionally the season after an Olympics is low-key for top skaters but, with Nathan Chen leading a strong U.S. contingent, it's an exciting line-up in Everett for the figure skating season opener.

After Washington the series moves to Canada, Finland, Japan, Russia and France before the top six in each discipline qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver in December.

Nathan Chen

America's headline act took team bronze at PyeongChang 2018 but finished a disappointing fifth in the men's singles event.

Sitting 17th after a disastrous short program in PyeongChang in February, the 19-year-old made a remarkable recovery the following month landing five quads to secure the ISU World Championships title in Milan.

He didn't just win, he won by the biggest margin ever recorded.

This season is a new beginning for Chen as he performs a balancing act between studying at Yale and skating professionally.

His first examination comes in Washington where many put the world champ as clear favourite.

But expect sparks to fly as the 19-year-old faces down U.S. teammate Vincent Zhou who was sixth in PyeongChang.

Satoko Miyahara

Two skaters to watch out for in Washington are Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto who made it a Japan one-two at last year's Skate America.

Miyahara earned a total of 214.03 points to take her second Grand Prix title last year while Sakamoto won second place at 17 years of age.

Now a year older and wiser, Miyahara's understudy would love to reverse the podium order this time around.

Both Japanese skaters will have to watch out for in-form U.S. rising star Bradie Tennell.

Bradie Tennell

An on-fire Tennell looks determined to claim this Grand Prix title back from Miyahara on home soil.

The PyeongChang (team) bronze medal winner had a big boost of confidence last month when she upset Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva at the Autumn Classic in Canada.

I can’t wait for Skate America. - Bradie Tennell

Last year was her big breakout year as she built on a surprise third place podium finish at this event to go on and win the nationals.

“Yeah, I can’t wait for Skate America,” the 20-year-old said. “It has a lot of good memories from last year and I can’t wait to build on that."

USA to make it 10 in a Row?

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue can become the 10th straight U.S. couple to win the ice dance event at Skate America.

The duo look like strong contenders to make it double figures following their first national title and a worlds silver medal.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue at the U.S. Nationals in January 2018. Photo: Getty Images
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue at the U.S. Nationals in January 2018. Photo: Getty ImagesMadison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue at the U.S. Nationals in January 2018. Photo: Getty Images

Yuzuru Hanyu

Two-time Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu will not compete at Skate America, his first Grand Prix will be Helsinki from November 2-4.

Yuzu continues to train and prepare for the new season in Canada with coach Brian Orser.

Alina Zagitova

Hanyu isn't the only big name star who won't compete at Skate America, reigning Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova will also join the Grand Prix circuit at Helsinki and Moscow in November.

The PyeongChang 2018 gold medallist looked back to her brilliant best at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, scoring a world-beating time in her new short program and winning the trophy by some distance with a flawless free skate.

Canada's power couple Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are not around, Kaetlyn Osmond is taking a season out and Germany's Olympic pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot are taking “an indefinite break”, despite being back on the ice at Nebelhorn.

Olympic silver medallist and Zagitova's fellow Russian Evgenia Medvedeva will compete in Laval and Grenoble, but not at Skate America.

Here are all the dates for the upcoming ISU Grand Prix season.

  • Skate America (Washington, USA) - October 19-21
  • Skate Canada International (Laval, Canada) - October 26-28
  • 2018 Grand Prix Finland (Helskinki, Finland) - November 2-4
  • NHK Trophy (Hiroshima, Japan) - November 9-11
  • Rostelecom Cup (Moscow, Russia) - November 16-18
  • Internationaux de France (Grenoble, France) - November 23-25
  • ISU Grand Prix Final (Vancouver, Canada) - December 7-10

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