Zagreb, Croatia

The 40th Golden Spin of Zagreb kicks off this week in Zagreb, Croatia, featuring a good mix of new and experienced teams.

Two of the medalists from 2006 will face off once again in Zagreb. Ukraine’s Alla Beknazarova and Vladimir Zuev, who won this event in 2005 and finished second in 2006, go up against Katherine Copely and Deividas Stagniunas of Lithuania, last year’s bronze medalists. Beknazarova and Zuev have already stood on the podium once this season, winning the bronze medal at Nebelhorn Trophy in September. Copely and Stagniunas are now in the second year of their partnership, and this is their first international event of the 2007-2008 season.

Siblings Christina and William Beier of Germany, still on the comeback trail after injury sidelined them for more than a season, look to match or better their third place at Nebelhorn.

Golden Spin marks the international debut of several new teams including Jane Summersett and Todd Gilles of the U.S. Both Summersett and Gilles had success with previous partners on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. Their partnership was formed this past spring, and they swept the competition at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships in August.

Russia’s Natalia Mikhailova and Andrei Maksimishin will also make their international debut. Mikhailova is a former world silver medallist, while Maksimishin had success on the Junior Grand Prix circuit and competed at the World Junior Championships numerous times.

Americans Charlotte Maxwell and Nick Traxler proved themselves worthy of an international assignment with their multiple podium finishes in Lake Placid. The duo, who placed eighth at the U.S. Championships in Spokane, Wash., are making their European debut in Zagreb.

Other teams stepping on the ice for the first time together in the international competitive arena include Alessia Aureli & Marco Garavaglia of Italy and Sun Hye Yu & Ramil Sarkulov of Uzbekistan.