There is no doubt that the international Skating season 2020/21 is different from all other seasons athletes and fans have known. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many changes and restrictions. Nevertheless, athletes and coaches have been working hard and are eager to show the results of their work. The ISU Challenger event Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, is the oldest continuously held Figure Skating competition in the world outside ISU Championships and kicks off the 2020/21 season as the first international event.

Who to look out for:

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Matteo Rizzo (ITA) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)

2019 ISU European Figure Skating Championships bronze medalist Matteo Rizzo (ITA) and Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) headline the Men’s event. German Champion Paul Fentz is aiming at the podium on home ice as well. Other contenders include Aleksandr Selevko (EST) and Lukas Britschgi (SUI).

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Alexia Paganini (SUI) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (RUS) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Alexia Paganini (SUI) leads the Ladies and has to expect competition from Nicole Schott (GER), who is hoping to improve from her bronze medal in this event from last year, as well as from Eva-Lotte Kiibus (EST) and Olga Mikutina (AUT).

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Annike Hocke and Robert Kunkel (GER) at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)

Germany hopes for victory in the Pairs with 2019 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Rostelecom bronze medalists Minerva-Fabienne Hase/Nolan Seegert and Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel. Cleo Hamon/Denys Strekalin (FRA) and Rebecca Ghilardi/Filippo Ambrosini (ITA) are eying the podium as well.

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Darya Popova and Volodymyr Byelikov (UKR) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

The Ice Dance event looks wide open. Oberstdorf’s own Jennifer Janse van Rensburg/Benjamin Steffan (GER), Darya Popova/Volodymyr Byelikov (UKR) and Natalie Taschlerova/Filip Taschler (CZE) have the most experience of the seven teams and the best chances to fight for the medals.

Organizing an international competition during the pandemic demands a lot of preparation and planning. The German Skating Federation made sure the event is as safe as possible for all participants on and off the ice for the 52nd edition of Nebelhorn Trophy to take place. For Figure Skating event manager and former ISU Event Coordinator Peter Krick it is a new challenge. “The situation is absolutely new. But the athletes need to get competition experience,” Krick said. “If it takes too long and if our sport is not visible anymore it will disappear. Soccer dominates and the smaller sports that are not so much in the focus are dropping off the radar. The athletes deserve this and we want to prove that it is possible to hold an event.” The usual rules will apply: all participants need to wear masks in the rink unless they are on the ice training or competing. They need to observe social distancing and follow all the hygiene measures.

Krick also pointed out that this is the pre-Olympic season and most of the spots for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games will be decided at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2021 and Skaters need to prepare for this also by competing.

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Minerva-Fabienne Hase and Nolan Seegert (GER) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (RUS) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

The athletes agree. “This is what we are doing the sport for. You want to compete against each other and you are training every day. For us as athletes it is very, very important as a goal that competitions take place,” said German Pair Skater Nolan Seegert. “We have been working all summer towards competitions. Also, in regards to the Olympic Games and the qualification it is very important that we can get as much competition experience as possible this season in order to move up in the rankings,” his partner Minerva-Fabienne Hase added. She pointed out that in order to progress, it is also important to compete against teams from other countries.

“The competitions are very important to us, mostly to keep the motivation up and to get feedback for our hard work during the summer,” said ice dancer Jennifer Janse van Rensburg (GER).

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no spectators at the rink to the regret of athletes and organizers. However, a live stream will be available so fans from all over the world can follow the event.

The schedule of the event is as follows:

Thursday, 24.09.20: Men, Ladies, Pairs Short Programs

Friday, 25.09.20: Rhythm Dance, Men and Pairs Free Skating

Saturday, 26.09.20: Ladies Free Skating, Free Dance

More information, schedules and results are available at the event page of the German Figure Skating Federation.

Where to watch and follow the Nebelhorn Trophy 2020?

Viewers will be able to watch the Nebelhorn Trophy here:

Watch day 1 live stream

Watch day 2 live stream

Watch day 3 live stream

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