November 13-16 marks Croatia’s annual senior international competition, Golden Spin of Zagreb. The event has a great tradition –- 2008 will be the 41st staging of the competition. Fourteen dance teams are entered, although there are no entries from North America this time. The United States has sent teams to Golden Spin in odd years since 2003. Canada has not sent teams since 2005.
Fresh off a bronze medal at Finlandia Trophy and a fourth-place finish at the senior Grand Prix debut in Canada, Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov of Russia are among the favorites for gold at this event. Although this is their first year competing at the senior level, they have made the transition well, and the Russian Federation is giving them plenty of opportunities to compete. After Golden Spin, Gorshkova & Butikov will compete at NHK Trophy.
Alla Beknazarova & Vladimir Zuev of the Ukraine also have Grand Prix experience, although they are not on the circuit this year. The two-time and reigning Ukrainian champions won Golden Spin last year and ended the 2007-2008 season with a 14th-place finish at the European Championships. Beknazarova & Zuev have not yet competed internationally this season.
Kamila Hajkova & David Vincour of the Czech Republic are among the more seasoned competitors at the event. Although they were not assigned to a Grand Prix event this year, they have competed on the senior Grand Prix twice before and finished 23rd at last year’s World Championships. Hajkova & Vincour recently finished sixth at Nebelhorn Trophy and fifth at Karl Schäfer Memorial.
Great Britain’s Phillipa Towler-Green & Phillip Poole are another experienced team on the roster. They have been skating together since 2003 and have competed at the European Championships the last three years, placing 18th in 2008. They were ninth in September at Nebelhorn Trophy.
Golden Spin is scheduled to be the long-anticipated competitive debut for two new teams. Nora Hoffmann & Maxim Zavozin, representing Hungary, were scheduled to compete earlier this season at Karl Schäfer Memorial but withdrew from the event. Zavozin, who skated to the 2005 World Junior Championships title with Morgan Matthews for the United States, has reportedly been cleared to skate for Hungary. Hoffmann was second in the world on the junior level in 2003 and 2004 with Attila Elek. Neither Hoffmann nor Zavozin have competed since early 2007, and the skating world is anxious for their well-hyped return to the scene.
Germany’s Christina Beier & Tim Giesen will also make their competitive debut in Zagreb. Beier, with her brother William, is a three-time German national champion. Injury forced them to miss the entire 2006-2007 season, and after disappointing results last year, the siblings decided to end their partnership. Giesen was a promising junior on the German scene, most recently with Jana Werner. Last season, Werner & Giesen narrowly missed making the German junior world team. Golden Spin will be Giesen’s first senior-level competition.
Competition begins Friday, November 13, with the Paso Doble compulsory dance. Dancers will have a long day on Friday, as they also compete in the original dance that night. The event concludes on Saturday with the free dance.