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Team Cup Challenge roster for Europe announced

Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, ranked second in the world, will be coming to Spokane to take part in the Team Cup Challenge for Team Europe. (Amel Emric / Associated Press)
Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, ranked second in the world, will be coming to Spokane to take part in the Team Cup Challenge for Team Europe. (Amel Emric / Associated Press)

Just three days after announcing Team North America, U.S. Figure Skating officials on Wednesday released the list of skaters, mostly from Italy, who will make up Team Europe.

Just like the skaters from the U.S. and Canada, Team Europe has several skaters ranked among the best in the world who will be coming to Spokane in April for the inaugural Team Cup Challenge.

The team features Russian skaters Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and pairs skaters Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, who all are ranked No. 2 in the world and won the silver medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics and World Championships.

The team also has Russian men’s skater Sergei Voronov, who won bronze at the 2015 World Championships; and France’s ice dancing pair of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who are ranked No. 4 in the world and won the World Championships in 2015.

The honorary captain of Team Europe is 57-year-old Christopher Dean, who skated for years with ice dancing partner Jayne Torvill. Skating for Great Britain, the pair won the gold in the 1984 Olympics, four World Championships and the bronze medal in the 1994 Olympics.

“It’s exciting. It’s a new event and a unique event,” Dean said Wednesday from his home in Colorado Springs. “It’s going to be fun for the skaters because it’s a different format at the end of their competing season.”

Dean said going into a World Championship or Olympics, skaters sometimes feel the pressure of only having their one chance at greatness.

But with the Team Cup Challenge, “I think they can let loose and enjoy their performance more,” he said. “I think they will be trying just as hard, but it will be for the team more than themselves individually.”

Team Europe includes five skaters from Italy, four from Russia and one each from France and the Czech Republic. Dean said he won’t need a team of translators running around to organize the team event. He said he’ll figure out how to manage the team, even if it requires arm gestures.

“English is the international language on this one,” he said with a laugh. “I think everybody speaks some form of English. I don’t see (communication) as a problem.”

Skating officials will announce the honorary captain and skaters who will make up Team Asia on March 9. That is also when skating fans can begin voting online to add one lady and one man to each team, which will compete for $617,000 in prize money during the competition from April 22-24 at the Spokane Arena.

“In my time, we did have some team events, but they were professional team events,” Dean said. “This affords them the opportunity to have that team spirit, as well.”

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