carron-jones-coupedenice11This weekend marks the 16th International Cup of Nice (Coupe Internationale de Nice, for the francophones). Nice, France, is the site of this season’s World Championships, and 20 teams representing 15 countries will compete in this lovely city.

France’s Pernelle Carron & Lloyd Jones are one of the gold medal favorites at this event. The team has finished 12th at the past two World Championships and after the 2010-11 season, they moved to the United States to train in Aston, Penn., with their new coaches, Natalia Linichuk & Gennady Karponosov. Carron & Jones won Cup of Nice last year and this year, it marks their season début.

Also representing France, Tiffany Zahorski & Alexis Miart were last year’s fourth-place finishers at the World Junior Championships. Zahorski & Miart missed quite a bit of training time due to an injury to Miart’s ankle. The injury kept them out of the Junior Grand Prix, so they changed their plans for the season and are now focused on making their Senior Grand Prix début at Trophée Eric Bompard. This event will serve as a tune-up for the high-profile event in Paris in a few weeks.

Italy is sending two teams to Nice, including Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri, who started their season at Finlandia Trophy and finished fourth with a score of 127.64. They are joined by Lorenza Alessandrini & Simone Vaturi, last year’s silver medalists at this event. Alessandrini & Vaturi already have a silver medal to their credit this season from Ondrej Nepela Memorial, where they earned 124.76 points. Because of injury, they were unable to make their Grand Prix début last season, but they are scheduled to compete at NHK Trophy in November. Assuming that one of Italy’s two spots to the European and World Championships will go to Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, Cup of Nice will set up an important battle for Italy’s second spot.

Germany’s dance teams are in the same position as Italy’s, in terms of fighting for the remaining championship berth, and they will also have their first face-off of the season this weekend. Tanja Kolbe & Stefano Caruso will look to improve upon their performances and placements at Finlandia Trophy. Kolbe’s leg was cut during practice at Finlandia Trophy. She skated through quite a bit of pain at that event but has since recovered. Carolina Hermann & Daniel Hermann have been absent from competition since the 2010 World Championships, due to injury. They were beginning to gain ground internationally in the 2010 season, but are a bit of a question mark now, as the landscape in German dance changed last season.

Sara Hurtado & Adria Diaz of Spain will compete for the second time this season after finishing seventh at Nebelhorn Trophy. The team recently relocated to London when their coach, John Dunn, accepted a coaching position in his home country. This is Hurtado & Diaz’s first full season at the senior level.

Nice will be the début for Ukraine’s Siobhan Heekin-Canedy and her new partner, Dmitry Dun. Heekin-Canedy finished 15th at the 2011 World Championships with former partner, Alexander Shakalov. Dun competed from 2003 to 2010 with Alisa Agafonova, who is now representing Turkey with partner Alper Ucar. Agafanova & Ucar, who are also on the roster here, are in their second season together and recently finished 11th at Nebelhorn Trophy.

The short dance will take place on Friday, October 28th with the free dance contested on Saturday, October 29th.