NepelaPreview2015by Laura Flagg | Photo by Danielle Earl

Eight ice dance teams will be competing in Bratislava, Slovakia this week at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy.  Named for 1972 Olympic gold medalist Ondrej Nepela, the event has been held annually since 1993 and became part of the ISU Challenger series in 2014.  An ice dance event was not contested in 2003 or 2006.

Maia & Alex Shibutani will be representing the U.S. in Bratislava.  Coach Marina Zoueva led them to a silver medal at U.S. Nationals and a 5th place finsih at the World Championships last season.  They train in Canton, Michigan.  Their free dance, to “Fix You” by Coldplay, was choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev.

Finishing one slot behind them at Worlds were the Canadian team of Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (pictured).  The reiging Canadian silver medalists will be performing a new free dance to “She Said” by Jorane and “Neverland” by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi. They train with Carol Lane, Jon Lane, and Juris Razguliajevs.

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland, of Great Britain, are looking to start making up for last season’s disappointments, where a fall kept them out of the Grand Prix Final and illness kept them out of Europeans and Worlds.  The former European bronze medalists are keeping their free dance to music by Muse. They swtiched coaches over the offseason and are now training with Igor Shpilband.


Kavita Lorenz and Panagiotis Polizoakis are coming off a very impressive debut as a team with their fourth place finish in their home country of Germany last week.  Coached by Igor Shpilband in Novi, Michigan, they will be performing a free dance to the music from Amelie.

Gilles & Poirier’s training mates from the Czech Republic, Cortney Mansour & Michal Ceska, will also be competing. They placed 17th at Europeans last season.

Frederica Testa & Lukas Csolley, from Slovakia, are looking to build on their improvements from last season, when they finished 8th at Europeans and 15th at the World Championships. They are coached by Roberto Pelizzola and Paola Mezzadri.  Testa and Csolley will be performing their new free dance to music from the movie Malena.

A pair of Italian teams round out the roster, including Misato Komatsubara & Andrea Fabbri and the new Italian team of Victoria Manni & Saverio Giacomelli.  Manni & Giacomelli will be performing a free dance to “The Man I Love” by Frank Chacksfield Orchestra. They placed 6th at the Lombardia Trophy several weeks ago.

The short dance is on Friday, October 2 and the free dance is on the following day.