I am very pleased to announce that 51st Golden Spin of Zagreb will be the first competition I will cover on my new blog – Skate Croatia.
Since 2009, Golden Spin is taking place in first half of December and since 2013, it overlaps with the Grand Prix Final.
Such ingenious timing, makes this final Challenger of the year that much more exciting for the global skating community, but also strategic for skaters who are forced to skip the Grand Prix, skaters who are coming back after taking a competitive break or were not able to qualify for the Final.
Golden Spin of Zagreb is one of the oldest international competition in figure skating and with good timing, offers skaters an opportunity to test their programs in front of the international judges before the end of the calendar year.
The 51st Golden Spin of Zagreb 2018 takes place in Dom Sportova Arena, from 5th till 8th of December.
From November 12th, first entries are on the official web site of Croatian skating federation.
Overall, there are 28 entries from 20 countries listed for the Men’s event.
In Men’s event we will see last years silver medalist, Alexei Bychenko and his fellow countryman Daniel Samohin. Two top Israelis will be trying to repeat the 2016 podium, where they won gold and silver retrospectively.
Russia is sending Alexander Samarin, who placed 4th at Skate Canada in the Grand Prix circuit in October this year.
Also from Russia, Maxim Kovtun, will be competing internationally for the first time since World Championships in March 2017. As of 30th of Nov, Kovtun was removed from the entry list and replaced by Anton Shulepov.
As of 27th of Nov, the most recent entry for team Russia, is current European and World bronze medalist, Mikhail Kolyada. He has placed in 4th at both Grand prix assignments in Helsinki and Moscow earlier this season.
There are 6 substitute entries listed for Russian men for this event, including last years silver medalist, Artur Dimitriev.
Looking to improve last years 7th place is Alexander Majorov from Sweden, who will be competing in Zagreb alongside with his younger brother, Nikolaj.
In last several seasons, USFS is sending more and more American skaters to international B events and Challengers. This year for the first time, Jason Brown will be competing in Zagreb. Brown placed second at recent Grand Prix in Grenoble, France.
In Ladies event, Golden spin will host 40 skaters from 25 countries.
Leading senior ladies of Russia at this event is Maria Sotskova. This student of Elena Buianova has been struggling at Grand prix assignments, placing 9th at Hiroshima, Japan and 7th in Grenoble, France.
Last years winner from junior version of Golden spin, Anastasiia Guliakova is set to make senior international debut same as her fellow team member, Anastasiia Gubanova.
There are four more Russian ladies listed as substitutes for this event.
This will be first time competing in Zagreb for USA National champion, Bradie Tennell, who was early listed for Golden Spin last year, but she surprised everybody by positioning herself as the leading American lady before the Olympics. So instead of Tennell, less experienced ladies were given a chance to compete like Starr Andrews, Emmy Ma and Hannah Miller. Returning to Zagreb is Mariah Bell, hopefully improving her unfortunate experience several seasons ago.
There is an interesting entry from South Korea – Ji Minji. According to ISU Biographies, JI has competed in pairs with Theistocles Lefheris in 2016/2017 season, in fact, the pair places 7th at Golden spin that very season.
It seems that Ledena dvorana of Dom sportova will serve as a preview of German nationals for the ladies with Nicole Schott, Nathalie Weinzierl and Alissa Scheidt competing. Schott placed 4th last year at Golden spin, while Scheidt won bronze medal at Golden bear club competition in October this year in Zagreb.
Daša Grm from Slovenia has competed this October in Zagreb at Golden Bear club competition and finished in disappointing 5th place. Top Slovenian lady keeps coming back to Zagreb and usually performs well. Hopefully in early December, she will be able to do herself justice.
From Croatia, Hana Cvijanović will compete for the first time as a senior in front of her home audience, along with her more experienced team member Patricia Skopančić.
Overall, there will be 10 pairs from 7 countries competing in pairs event.
In Pairs, it will be interesting to see three out of the four top US pairs compete at an international competition outside USA.
Alexa Simeca Knierim and Chris Knierim were working during summer with multiple World champion and current Olympic gold medalist in pairs, Aliona Savchenko. American married couple started this season struggling with challenging, yet interesting programs and refreshing content. Having failed to qualify for Grand Prix Final, they will be seeking redemption in last Challenger this year in Zagreb.
Also from USA, Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc and Deanna Stellato Dudek/Nathan Bartholomay. Both pairs have competed at Golden spin in 2016 and placed 3rd and 6th retrospectively.
Russia has only one entry for pairs event and no substitutes listed. Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin have had a solid season so far with victory in Obersdorf Germany at Nebelhorn trophy, silver medal at Skate America and 5th place at Rostelecom cup. With second and fifth place at Grand prix competitions, this team is currently the first alternation for Grand Prix Final taking place in Vancouver at the same time as Golden spin.
Two German pairs will compete in Zagreb. Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nolan Seegert and Annika Hocke and Ruben Blommaert.
Representing Croatia, Lana Petranovic and Antonio Souza Kordeiru are back competing at Dom sportova arena. Croatian representatives were forced to skip the majority of Olympic season due to Petranovic injury and knee surgery, but are back this season in full force, competing with new set of coaches.
In Ice dance, there will be 14 couples competing from 11 coutries.
As of Monday, 26th of November, Canadian ice dance team, Piper Gilles and Paul Portier are set to compete at Golden spin. This last minute addition to the ice dance event has certainly upped the level of the competition. Gilles and Portier won Nebelhorn Trophy in late September this year and have followed that up with two bronze medals at Skate Canada and Internationaux de France. Unfortunately, two third placements did not launch them to Grand Prix Final, so they are coming to Zagreb to put their programs to another test in front of the international judges.
From Russia there will be two ice dance teams competing. Returning from a solid 4th place last year are Betina Popova and Sergei Mozgov. Other entry is a somewhat a new team of Anabelle Morozov and Andrei Bagin.
Overall there are will be over 121 skaters from 93 countries competing as senior version of Golden spin of Zagreb Challenger Series event, taking place in Dom sportova arena from 5th to 8th of December 2018.
All official information of the event can be found at Croatian Skating Federation website ,
while directions and location of the Dom Sportova Arena can be found here.