Grand Prix Series Kicks Off this Week with 2007 Skate America in Reading, Pa.

(10/24/07) - The 2007 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series begins this week at Skate America in Reading, Pa. Team USA will compete against 13 other countries, all vying for points and prize money in this first of six events in the series. Skate America will take place at the Sovereign Arena and begin with the compulsory dance competition on Friday, Oct. 26.

The ladies free skate from 2007 Skate America will be broadcast live on NBC on Oct. 28 from 4-6 p.m. (EST). The rest of the competition will be shown live and on-demand online at icenetwork.com beginning Friday, Oct 26 at 6 p.m. (EST). Click here for more details.

Ladies
U.S. champion Kimmie Meissner will compete in Reading along with U.S. silver medalist Emily Hughes and World Junior champion Caroline Zhang. Japanese skater Miki Ando won gold at last year's Skate America and will be looking for a repeat performance, but that will mean outdueling skaters like Finland's Kiira Korpi, who won bronze at the 2007 European Championships. This will be Korpi's second Skate America competition, and she hopes to improve on last year's seventh-place finish.

Men
Two-time World bronze medalist and reigning U.S. champion Evan Lysacek will look to claim the top spot after his silver medal at last year's event. He is joined by U.S. silver medalist Ryan Bradley and Stephen Carriere, the reigning World Junior champion. French skater Alban Preaubert will be a factor in the men's contest. At last year's Skate America, Preaubert captured a bronze medal and went on to place fourth at the Grand Prix Final. Also in the mix will be Japan's Daisuke Takahashi. Takahashi skipped Skate America in 2006, but his 2005 performance in Atlantic City, N.J., earned him the gold medal. Transitioning this season from the junior to the senior level, Canadian Kevin Reynolds has a strong history in Junior Grand Prix events, including a bronze medal at the 2006 JGP Final.

Pairs
The U.S. pairs team in Reading consists of 2007 U.S. fourth-place finishers Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig and 11th-place finishers MeeRan Trombley & Laureano Ibarra. Chinese pairs team Qing Pang and Jian Tong will also take the ice in Reading. They are the 2006 World champions and just missed out on a medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, where they finished fourth. Canadians Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison skated to a seventh-place finish at the 2007 World Championships and placed 10th at the 2006 Olympics.

Ice Dancing
Four-time U.S. champions and Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto lead the U.S. ice dancers in Reading. They also have a silver and two bronze medals from the World Championships in their trophy case. Rounding out the U.S. Team are U.S. bronze medalists Meryl Davis & Charlie White and U.S. fourth-place finishers Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre. French duo Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat return to Skate America after winning the bronze medal at the event last season.

Skate America marks the first of six events in six countries, concluding in Torino, Italy, with the Grand Prix Final. Skaters can compete in two of the six events, and the top six point-earners in all four disciplines ladies, men's, pairs and ice dancing earn a spot at the Grand Prix Final. Athletes will compete for $180,000 at Skate America and more than $1.35 million in prize money throughout the series and the Grand Prix Final.

At 2006 Skate America, winners hailed from a variety of countries, including the U.S.. Japan's Miki Ando captured gold in the ladies contest while teammate Nobunari Oda earned the top spot in the men's contest. The pairs gold medal went to Rena Inoue & John Baldwin, and Bulgarians Albena Denkova & Maxim Staviski topped the field in ice dancing.

Tickets for Skate America are now on sale and may be purchased at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, charge by phone at 215.336.2000 or at www.ticketmaster.com. All-event ticket packages which include tickets to all nine competitions, the exhibition and practices begin at $151. Individual event tickets begin at $20. A complete schedule of events can be found at http://www.usfigureskating.org/event_details.asp?id=38139.