Figure skating has an eclectic mixture of competitions. Some, like Nebelhorn and Finlandia, are old, traditional competitions that have been part of the calendar for decades. And others are brand new, shining and glossy and their record-books blank, each skater vying for the honour of being the inaugural champion. This is the challenge set for the competitors at the fifth stop on the ISU Challenger Series.
This will be the first time the Mordorvian Ornament has been held, and it will take place in Saransk, Russia, from the 15th to the 18th of October. Being a very new event, it has few entries beyond the Russians and Europeans, but will play host to competition in all four disciplines. Hopefully, as the competition becomes a more regular fixture on the ISU calendar, it will begin attracting names from America and Asia.
The early favourite in the men's event is the reigning Russian National Champion, Maxim Kovtun. Kovtun had a very mixed 2014-2015 season, winning both Grand Prix events, second at Europeans and defending his National title, but he was only fourth at the Grand Prix Final and petered out to 7th place at the World Championships. He is joined here by compatriots Moris Kvitelashvili and young gun Alexander Samarin.
Budding Israeli superstar Daniel Samohin is also likely to figure heavily in the final standings, and could even challenge Kovtun for the title, being the only other skater who will attempt a jump content to match him. And this event will also see a Senior debut for the much-talked-about Latvian Deniss Vasiljevs, who has made a considerable splash on the Junior Grand Prix circuit.
In the ladies' event all eyes will be on the Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova in her comeback competition. Sotnikova was forced to sit out all of last season after doing severe damage to her Achilles tendon in training, but a stint on Russia's Dancing with the Stars has seen her movement quality improve rapidly and she will be out to prove a point. Her fellow Russians Anna Pogorilaya and Maria Artimieva, both of whom medalled two weeks ago at Ondrej Nepela, will be hoping to score one over the champion here.
A good general rule of thumb is never to count out skaters from "smaller" countries, as they are usually hungry to make a point, and this field is no exception, with Slovenia's Dasa Grm, Armenia's Anastasia Galustyan and Lithuania's Aleksandra Golovkina among those who will be looking to earn their minimum technical score to compete at the European championships later this season.
The unquestionable favourites for the pairs' event are the Russian pair of Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov. The reigning European champions have put a bad run of injuries behind them to lay down a solid 2014-2015 season, and they will be hoping to stamp their authority on the Russian field ahead of the return of Volosozhar and Trankov. Among the rest of the field, Russia's Natalja Zabijako and Alexander Enbert, Israel's Adel Tankova and Evgeni Krasnopolski and Belarus' Tatiana Danilova and Mikalai Kamianchuk will all be hoping to earn Europeans technical scores.
The Ice Dance competition will be a real battle royale, with two of the top Ice Dance teams in Russia going head to head. Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin are looking to build on a strong first season together and establish themselves as the top dance couple in Russia, while reigning National Champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev will be just as eager to defend their title and status as the number one couple.
Throwing themselves into the mix will be the Israeli couple of Isabella Tobias and Ilia Tkachenko, fresh from their bronze medal at Finlandia. Turkish couple Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar could also be considered dark horses for a medal here.
All times converted to AEDT.
Live stream information will be coming soon on the official website.
Short Program - Friday 16th October - 10:30pm - 1:00am (Saturday)
Long Program - Sunday 18th October - 1:15am - 4:15am
Short Program - Saturday 17th October - 10:30pm - 1am (Sunday)
Long Program - Sunday 18th October - 11:45pm - 2:30am (Monday)
Short Program - Satuday 17th October - 2am - 3:45am
Long Program - Sunday 18th October - 9:30pm - 11:30pm
Short Dance - Saturday 17th October - 4am - 5:45am
Free Dance - Sunday 18th October - 4am - 5:45am