After a one-year hiatus, the ice dancing event will be contested by 14 teams at the Karl Schäfer Memorial in Vienna, Austria from October 14-17. The event is named for Austria’s two-time Olympic gold medalist figure skater Karl Schäfer, who also won a plethora of gold medals at the World and European championships between 1929 and 1936.
Also referred to as Vienna Cup, the event has been held since 1991, although ice dance has only been a part of it eight times. When ice dancing was first added in 1997, Tatiana Navka & Nikolai Morozov won the gold. Coincidentally, Roman Kostomarov, Navka’s future partner with whom she would win the 2006 Olympic gold medal, won the silver with then-partner Ekaterina Davydova.
Pernelle Carron & Matthieu Jost of France, ranked #22 (as of 10/12/2008) on the ISU’s world standings list, are the favorites for the top of the podium. Carron & Jost had a strong international season in 2007 winning the bronze medal at Skate Canada and finishing ninth at the European Championships. They’ll look to start their season with gold in Vienna.
The United States sends two teams to Austria: Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler and Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt. Maxwell & Traxler finished seventh at the 2008 U.S. National Championships, while Kriengkrairut & Giulietti-Schmitt finished ninth. At August’s Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, the two teams finished neck-and-neck in several of the event phases. Maxwell & Traxler’s free dance to “We Will Rock You” and “The Show Must Go On” by Queen should be a crowd favorite, while Kriengkrairut & Giulietti-Schmitt’s original dance is dynamic and fun to watch.
Estonia’s Caitlin Mallory & Kristjan Rand had a successful Finlandia, finishing fourth in their competitive debut as a team. Karl Schäfer Memorial’s roster boasts more teams with more competitive experience, so this even should be a bigger test for the duo who teamed up earlier this year.
A pair of teams from the Czech Republic will also go head to head at Karl Schäfer Memorial. Kamila Hajkova & David Vincour have been the top senior team in the Czech Republic for the past several years, while Lucie Mysliveckova & Matej Novak have been steadily moving up the junior ranks.
The competition begins Tuesday with the Viennese Waltz.