by Anne Calder

Nebelhorn Trophy, the third ISU Challenger Series event, was held in Oberstdorf, Germany September 22-24. 10 teams from eight countries competed. The event counted for the required Minimum Total Element Score to be eligible for participation in ISU Figure Skating Championships.

The competition included the 2014 World Champions, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA), 2016 World bronze medalists, Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA), and 2015 Grand Prix medalists Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (CAN).

The German event had boogie-woogie and disco as the Midnight Blues compliment rhythm for the first time this season.

The top three teams earned level 4 for their twizzles and lifts and level 3 for their pattern and not touching midline step sequence. Cappellini & Luca Lanotte and Gilles & Poirier scored level 3 for their partial step sequence, while Chock & Bates received a level 2.

Elliana Pogebinksy & Alex Benoit (USA) and Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin (KOR) were the only teams to earn level 4 for their midnight blues patterns.

Cappellini & Lanotte danced blues and boogie-woogie to the Jersey Boys “Cry for Me” and “Choo Choo Boogie” for the top 71.42 score. Americans Chock & Bates followed the Italians with a 70.78 in a blues interpretation to “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and hip hop to “Uptown Funk”. Gilles & Poirier chose “Oh What a Night for Dancing” by Barry White and Vance Wilson for their required midnight blues and “Disco Inferno” by Leroy Green and Ron Kersey. Their 70.32 score was third.

Americans Pogebinksy & Benoit, 2016 USA Junior bronze medalists, danced to Elvis Presley’s “Trouble” for both the blues and swing for a fourth place personal best 63.06 score. Kavita Lorenz & Joti Polizoakis represented the German host country with blues and hip hop dances to Michael Jackson music. Their personal best 59.18 score earned fifth place. Min & Gamelin (KOR) also danced blues and hip hop and scored 53.38.

The top four free dance placements remained the same as the previous day’s competition, with a slightly wider margin in the scores. The three podium winners all earned the same levels for their technical elements. The short lifts, twizzles, and spin were level 4; the footwork received level 3.

The Italian team of Cappellini & Lanotte captivated the audience with a solid character interpretation of a Charlie Chaplin medley. Lanotte mimicked the quirky expressions and movements of the British silent movie star and comic throughout the program.

Their closing choreographic spin and lift earned an impressive 4.62 total points. The program received a 109.08 and a total 180.50 for the gold medal.

Cappellini & Lanotte will compete at the ISU Grand Prix Skate Canada and NHK events.

Chock & Bates used a dance choreographed by Christopher Dean to spark a different look and direction from their 2015 Rachmaninoff classical program. They chose a remix of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” as a vehicle for their transition. The program earned a 108.40. Their 179.18 total won the silver medal, just 1.32 out of first place.

Chock & Bates next compete at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Bratislava September 29 – October 2. Their ISU Grand Prix assignments include Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup.

Gilles & Poirier tangoed to “Con Bueno Onda” by Daniel Lomuto, Ernesto Baffa, and Hector M. Arce and earned a personal best 106.53 score. Their diagonal step sequence received an impressive 9.30 score from the judges. The total 176.84 was also a personal best score and earned the bronze medal.

Gilles & Poirier will compete in the ISU Grand Prix at Skate Canada and Trophee de France.

Pogrebinsky & Benoit made their Challenger Series debut with a fourth place personal best 92.14 score to Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov’s “Sadko” and “The Feeling Begins” by Peter Gabriel. The curve lift and twizzles, both level 4, and the level 3 footwork highlighted the program. The total 155.20 was also a person best score.

Pogrebinsky & Benoit won the 2016 Lake Placid Ice Dance International in their first senior competition. They have been assigned to the ISU Grand Prix at Skate America and Rostelecom Cup.

Min & Gamelin danced to soundtrack selections from the romantic Italian film, Cinema Paradiso. The Korean team overcame illness to earn level 4 lifts, twizzles, and spin and a personal best 83.88 score. The total 139.26 was also a personal best. The team finished sixth over all just .68 behind fifth place.

During the competition, Min & Gamelin learned they were assigned to Skate America, their first ISU Grand Prix event.