10 teams representing eight countries head to Obertsdorf, Germany, for Nebelhorn Trophy, the third event on the 2016-17 ISU Challenger Series.  Held annually since 1969, Nebelhorn Trophy has twice been used (2009 & 2013) as the final qualifying opportunity for the Winter Olympics as well as a testing ground for the International Skating Union to trial changes to the judging system.

Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates have previously won this event twice and are the defending champions.  Nebelhorn Trophy marks the season’s debut for Chock & Bates.  This season, their short dance to Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood was choreographed by Rohene Ward, while they turned to 1984 Olympic Champion Christopher Dean, for their free dance to “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie.  Both programs are a departure from themes the team have previously presented.

2014 World Champions Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte were originally on the roster for Lombardia Trophy, but will instead start their season in Obertsdorf.  The Italians have finished just off the podium at the last two World Championships. For their short dance, they’ll present “Cry for Me” for their Midnight Blues segments and “Choo Choo Boogie” for the accompanying rhythm (Boogie Woogie).  Their free dance features music by Charlie Chaplin including “Limelight” and the Overture from City Lights

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Canada are entering their sixth season as a team and will be in the medal mix at Nebelhorn.  They finished eighth at the World Championships, but their innovative short dance set to Beatles music earned them fifth place in that phase.  In addition, their short dance was one of two selected to be turned into a pattern dance by the ISU.  Their 2016-17 short dance utilizes “Oh What a Night for Dancing” by Barry White and Vance Wilson (Blues) and “Disco Inferno” by Leroy Green and Ron Kersey (Disco) while their free dance is a tango set to “Con buena onda”.

Germany’s Kavita Lorenz & Joti Polizoakis finished above expectations at each event they faced last season, including qualifying for the free dance at the World Championships.  Although they briefly ended their partnership, the duo have re-teamed and will start their season in Obertsdorf, where they debuted as a team in 2015.  Their short dance is to “Come Together” and “Black or White” by Michael Jackson and they are one of a few teams that selected Hip Hop to accompany the blues rhythm.  Their free dance is to a medley of Spanish selections. 

In July, Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit of the United States won the Lake Placid Ice Dance International, their first senior event.  Although the two-time U.S. junior bronze medalists had one more year of junior eligibility, they chose the challenge of stepping up to the senior level.  Their short dance music is “Trouble” by Elvis Presley while their free dance presents the Persian legend of Layla and Majnun set to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sadko” and “The Feeling Begins” by Peter Gabriel.

Korea’s Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin are one of two teams at Nebelhorn who are competing in back-to-back events after finishing sixth at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic last week in Utah.  After setting a new personal best in the short dance last week, Min & Gamelin will look to improve upon last week’s performances.

Lorenza Alessandrini & Pierre Souquet (France), Viktoria Kavaliova & Yurii Bieliaiev (Belarus), Katharina Müller & Tim Dieck (Germany), Ekaterina Fedyushchenko & Lucas Kitteridge (Great Britain) will also compete.