The Olympic figure skating season is already well underway, and this weekend features two events in North America where several Olympians – and Olympic hopefuls – are set to compete.
Autumn Classic International, an ISU Challenger Series event, takes place 16-18 Sept. in Pierrefonds, Quebec, part of the greater Montreal area. The U.S. International Figure Skating Classic – which is not part of the Challenger Series – happens over the same three days in Norwood, Mass., just outside Boston.
Reigning world bronze medallist Alexandra Trusova of Russia headlines the weekend of skating, and is the heavy favourite in the women’s field at U.S. Classic. The 17-year-old landed five quadruple jumps at the Russian Test Skate this past weekend and will feature in the race for three Beijing 2022 spots for the Russian women.
At Autumn Classic, it will be pair skaters Vanessa James and Eric Radford who will be closely watched, the duo making its international debut having announced that they have teamed up for Canada in April.
James is a two-time Olympian and 2018 world bronze medallist with former partner Morgan Cipres, who has left the sport, while Radford came out of retirement to skate again – he and partner Meagan Duhamel having won two world championships titles (2015 and 2016), bronze at PyeongChang 2018 – and helping Canada to team medals at Sochi 2014 and again in 2018.
"I know that a lot of people are probably going to ask why," Radford, 36, told CBC Sports in April. "And for me, it's more of a question of, ‘Why not?’"
Autumn Classic - Gilles/Poirier begin Beijing quest
Aside from James/Radford, reigning world bronze medallist Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier will lead the ice dance field, which also features Spain’s Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz, as well as Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of the U.S.
Four Canadian teams are set to skate in the ice dance competition.
In pair skating, James/Radford are joined by fellow Canadian teams Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps and Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud, while Japan’s Miura Riku and Kihara Ryuichi and 2019 American national champs Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc are set to compete.
Two-time Canadian champion Nam Nguyen leads an all-Canadian field for the men.
In the women’s event in Pierrefonds, three-time South Korean champion You Young - the Youth Olympic champion at Lausanne 2020 - leads the way as resurgent American Karen Chen features, as well. Gabby Daleman, Emily Bausback, and Alison Schumacher will fly the home flag for Canada.
See a full list of entrants here.
U.S. Classic - Eyes on Trusova
Trusova is far and away the favourite in the women’s field in Norwood, while the men’s singles event has more intrigue: Including young Americans Maxim Naumov and Camden Pulkinen; veteran skater Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic; and Mexico’s Donovan Carrillo, a crowd favourite.
In ice dance, reigning world bronze medallists and U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue will kick off their season, as well.
See the full entry list and schedule of events here.