Wednesday, November 28

Even Following Plushenko Withdrawal, No Shortage of Talent at NRW Trophy

Who would've thought that the 'Senior B' competition NRW Trophy would end up attracting so many big names of skating? It takes place December 5th-9th, the same weekend as the 2012/2013 Grand Prix Final. Tickets were sold out within 6.5 hours of going on sale!

The event started receiving great attention when Evgeny Plushenko, Yu-Na Kim, and Savchenko/Szolkowy were all registered to compete. In 2012/2013, Plushenko has only competed in the Japan Open, a team competition early in the season, while Kim hasn't competed since the 2011 World Championships. Plushenko recently withdrew stating that Russian Nationals and the European Championships will be his only competitions this year, but there remains tremendous depth in each of the disciplines.

Front-runners for the title include Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, and Russians Artur Gachinski and Konstantin Menshov. Also in the fight for medals are France's Chafik Besseghier, Alexander Majorov of Sweden, and Peter Liebers of Germany.

The gold medal favorite, even with a two-season absence, has to be Korean Yu-Na Kim, the reigning Olympic champion. It will be interesting to see how her scores stack up against the six ladies who qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Other medal favorites are Swedish sisters Viktoria and Joshi Helgesson, Spain's Sonia Lafuente, Italy's Valentina Marchei, and Mae-Berenice Meite of France.

World Champions Savchenko/Szolkowy look to compete here after illness took her out of the Trophee Eric Bompard, subsequently making the team miss the Grand Prix Final on Olympic ice. Berton/Hotarek of Italy and the France's James/Cipres also compete here; both teams had solid showings on the Grand Prix.

The dance portion of the event was already completed November 2-4. You can find full results here.

So what do you expect from Yu-Na in this first competition back? Will her scores compete with or even best the scores of the six ladies in the Grand Prix Final?

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