Nathan Chen has opened the past two figure skating seasons with wins at Skate America and ended them with world titles. He’ll attempt to do so again in 2019.
Chen is one of six U.S. Olympians who will compete at Skate America, the season-opening ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating event Oct. 18-20 in Las Vegas, and he’s one of 11 Olympians set to take part in the 2019 series, U.S. Figure Skating announced Thursday.
Chen and the ice dance team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue will aim to repeat their 2018 seasons, when both won two events and then the Grand Prix Final. Other Olympians taking part in this year’s grand prix are Karen Chen, Bradie Tennell, Jason Brown and Vincent Zhou in the singles events, as well as the ice dance team of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and the pairs team of Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim.
The grand prix consists of six international competitions, with skaters accumulating points in an effort to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. The top six skaters or teams in each discipline qualify, with this year’s Grand Prix Final set for Dec. 5-8 in Torino, Italy.
Chen will go for his third straight win at Skate America and second straight at the Internationaux de France in November. He’s also won the previous two Grand Prix Finals and world titles, following a fifth-place finish at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
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Hubbell and Donohue will also aim to repeat their 2018 season by scoring wins at Skate America, Skate Canada one week later in Kelowna, British Columbia, and then the Grand Prix Final. After finishing fourth at the 2018 Olympics, they have won consecutive medals at the world championships in addition to the Grand Prix Final win.
In addition to Chen and Hubbell/Donohue, the dance team of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker also claimed a grand prix event title last season when they won the NHK Trophy in Japan. Although they won’t be defending their win at this year’s event, set for Nov. 22-24 in Sapporo, they will be competing at Skate Canada and the Cup of China, set for Nov. 8-10 in Chongqing.
As usual, the Skate America field is set to feature some of the top U.S. stars. In addition to Chen and Hubbell-Donohue, the field will feature Karen Chen and Tennell in the women’s competition, Brown in the men’s competition, Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko in ice dance, and Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, plus Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, in pairs.
One additional U.S. entrant for each of the four disciplines at Skate America is still to be determined.
The Rostelecom Cup, set for Nov. 15-17 in Moscow, rounds out the series.
The veteran U.S. roster features just five skaters making their grand prix debuts. They are Camden Pulkinen and the dance team of Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, who will compete at Skate Canada, as well as Ting Cui and Tomoki Hiwatashi, who will skate at the Internationaux de France. Parsons, a 2012 Youth Olympian, previously competed in grand prix events with former partner and sister Rachel Parsons.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Team USA Assignments For 2019 ISU Grand Prix Of Figure Skating Series:
Skate America — Las Vegas — Oct. 18-20, 2019
Ladies: Karen Chen, Bradie Tennell; TBD**
Men: Jason Brown, Nathan Chen; TBD**
Pairs: Ashley Cain-Gribble/Timothy LeDuc, Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier; TBD**
Ice dance: Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko, Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue; TBD**
Skate Canada International — Kelowna, British Columbia — Oct. 25-27, 2019
Ladies: Bradie Tennell
Men: Camden Pulkinen*
Pairs: Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim/Chris Knierim
Ice dance: Caroline Green/Michael Parsons*, Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker, Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
Internationaux de France — Grenoble, France — Nov. 1-3, 2019
Ladies: Mariah Bell, Ting Cui*
Men: Nathan Chen, Tomoki Hiwatashi*
Pairs: Ashley Cain-Gribble/Timothy LeDuc, Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier
Ice dance: Madison Chock/Evan Bates, Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter
Cup of China — Chongqing, China — Nov. 8-10, 2019
Men: Camden Pulkinen, Vincent Zhou
Pairs: Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea
Ice dance: Madison Chock/Evan Bates, Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
Rostelecom Cup — Moscow — Nov. 15-17, 2019
Ladies: Mariah Bell
Men: Alex Krasnozhon, Vincent Zhou
Pairs: Audrey Lu/Misha Mitrofanov
NHK Trophy — Sapporo, Japan — Nov. 22-24, 2019
Ladies: Starr Andrews, Karen Chen, Ting Cui
Men: Jason Brown, Tomoki Hiwatashi
Pairs: Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim/Chris Knierim
Ice dance: Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko, Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter
*making Grand Prix Series debut
**to be determined