The 2011/2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating opens this Friday with Hilton Hhonors Skate America in Ontario, California. Skate America is the first of six events in the series. The skaters compete for a global prize money of US $ 180, 000 per individual event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and receive points according to their placements.

The prize money is awarded to winners and placed skaters/couples as follows:
1st place US $ 18,000
2nd place US $ 13,000
3rd place US $ 9,000
4th place US $ 3,000
5th place US $ 2,000

The points are awarded as follows:
1st place 15 points
2nd place 13 points
3rd place 11 points
4th place 9 points
5th place 7 points
6th place 5 points
7th place 4 points
8th place 3 points  

Pairs and Ice Dance couples collect points up to 6th place. According to the ranking order by points, the top six skaters and couples from each discipline will proceed to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Quebec, Canada (December 8 to 11). The global prize money for the Grand Prix Final is US $ 272, 000.

The skaters are seeded and invited to the Grand Prix of Figure Skating according to the results of the most recent ISU World Championships. Skaters/couples who have placed 1 to 6 in each of the four categories are considered to be seeded and are assigned by draw to skate in two events. These skaters may also, on a volunteer basis select to participate in a third event. They are eligible to earn prize money in all three events but only the two best results count towards the qualification for the Grand Prix Final.

Skaters/couples who have placed 7 to 12 in each of the four disciplines at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2011 are guranteed two spots. Next priority is be given to skaters/couples with an ISU World Standing placement of 1 – 24 (after season 2010/11) and skaters/couples with seasonal best scores in the top 24 (for season 2010/11).

For the first time in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series, each entrant must meet a minimum score to be included in the entry or the alternate list. The minimum scores are as follows: Men 168,60 points, Ladies 117,48, Pairs 130,71 and Ice Dance 111,15 points. The minimum score is the 2/3 of the highest points scored at the World Figure Skating Championships 2011 in Moscow.

Two reigning World Champions will start their season at Hilton HHOnors Skate America this week.

World Champions Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) headline the Ice Dance competition and will face 2011 European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA). 2010 World Junior silver medallists Alexandra Paul/Mitchell Islam (CAN), German Champions Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi and Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) are also hoping for a podium finish in Ontario.

Three-time and reigning World Champions Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) lead the Pairs. Competition should come from multiple World medallists Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang (CHN) who return to competition after sitting out the past season recovering from injury and from European bronze medallists Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (RUS). Other contenders include Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) and Caydee Denney/John Coughlin (USA).

2011 World silver medallist Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) will meet 2011 European Champion Florent Amodio (FRA) in the Men's event. Michal Brezina (CZE), Richard Dornbush (USA), Daisuke Murakami (JPN), and Kevin van der Perren (BEL) want to challenge the leaders.

In the Ladies’ event, reigning World bronze medalist Carolina Kostner (ITA) will face competition from Grand Prix Final Champion Alissa Czisny (USA) and 2010 European bronze medallist Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO). Other contenders include Haruka Imai (JPN), Ksenia Makarova (RUS) and Caroline Zhang (USA). The full list of entries is available at

The schedule of Hilton HHonors Skate America is as follows:

Friday, October 21: Men's Short Program and Short Dance
Saturday, October 22: Men's Free Skating, Free Dance, Pairs and Ladies Short Program
Sunday, October 23: Pairs and Ladies Free Skating, Exhibition Gala

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