15 teams from 10 countries will head to Bratislava, Slovak Republic, for the 2016 Ondrej Nepela Memorial.  It is the season’s international debut for many of the teams competing.

Athough it has not always included ice dance, Ondrej Nepela Memorial has been held annually since 1993.  Named for 1972 Olympic Champion Ondrej Nepela, the event has been part of the ISU Challenger Series since the beginning.  

Madison Chock & Evan Bates of the United States are fresh off a silver medal win at Nebelhorn Trophy last week and are one of two teams competing in back-to-back events.  This season, Chock & Bates have utilized choreographers Rohene Ward (short dance) and Christopher Dean (free dance) as they showcase programs that are different from previous themes they have selected.  Though they did not set new personal bests last week, their debut received solid marks creating a base to build on this season.

Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev, the 2013 World bronze medalists, are returning to international competitive ice for the first time since the 2016 European Championships.  While Chock & Bates are the favorites for the gold, Bobrova & Soloviev could challenge for the top spot if they skate to their potential.  Ondrej Nepela Memorial marks the second competition for the team this week as they skated their short and free dances at the first Russian Cup event in Samara where they scored.  

Chock & Bates are joined in Bratislava by 2016 U.S. pewter medalists, Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus, who are competing in their first event of the season.  They scrapped their original and inventive ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ short dance earlier this season and instead will present their new program to “Harlem Nocturne” by Duke Ellington and “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Herb Alpert. They have consistently medaled at international events over the past three seasons.

Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek & Maksim Spodirev broke through last season, winning medals on the Challenger Series and finishing 16th at the World Championships.  Their 2015-16 short dance was selected by the ISU to be developed into a new pattern dance.

Kavita Lorenz & Joti Polizoakis of Germany are in their second season as a team and are the second team competing in back-to-back events.  Finishing fifth at Nebelhorn Trophy last week, they set a new personal best in the short dance with their performance  to “Come Together” and “Black or White” by Michael Jackson. 

The new team of Lucie Mysliveckova & Lukas Csolley will debut in Bratislava.  Mysliveckova had international success while skating for Czech Republic with Matej Novak.  While skating with Federica Testa for five seasons, Csolley won six international medals and served as first alternates to the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Their partnership ended with Testa’s retirement earlier this summer. 

Tiffany Zahorski & Jonathan Guerreiro of Russia will compete in just the second international of their partnership and their first Challenger Series event.  

The short dance will be contested on Friday, September 30, with the free dance taking place on Saturday, October 1.