Three-time reigning world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will be aiming for their seventh Skate Canada International ice dance title when they compete in front of a home crowd at the upcoming International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating event in Regina.
The pair are among the top skaters on the entry list for the two-day event at the Brandt Centre, where action is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
Virtue and Moir, winners of the ice dance event at their home Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010, made a comeback to the sport last season in the hope of competing at Pyeongchang 2018.
It surprised the skating world, with the pair having retired after winning silver medals in the ice dance and team event at Sochi 2014.
After a two-year competitive hiatus, Virtue and Moir went undefeated in the 2016-2017 campaign and captured their third world title in Finland’s capital Helsinki in March.
Both insist they are ready for the expectation likely to be put on them as they begin their bid to reclaim the Olympic title.
"We had a great summer and a great fall and we’re just excited to get back in the Grand Prix season and kind of get the season going," Moir said.
"We love doing early season competitions like the Autumn Classics, but this is where the season really begins for us.
"It’s a big competition and we have to be on our A game.
"We’re super excited, but we know we have work to do.
"The season begins, let’s go.
"We can’t wait to see what happens here."
Competition for Virtue and Moir is expected to come from fellow Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and 2014 Four Continents champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States.
Other competitors include 2014 world junior champions Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker of the US and 2017 world junior silver medallists Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd of Russia.
Loboda and Drozd will be making their debut at a senior-level ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating event.
Also due to compete in Regina is world silver medallist Shoma Uno, who set new personal best scores at last month’s Lombardia Trophy competition in Italian city Bergamo.
Three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada is likely to challenge the Japanese star on home ice.
The US’ Jason Brown, Japan’s Takahito Mura and Czech Republic’s Michal Brezina are in the mix for medals as well.
Other competitors include South Korea’s Jun Hwan Cha, Belgium’s Jorik Hendrickx and world junior bronze medallist Alexander Samarin, the Russian who debuts on the senior Grand Prix circuit.
World silver medallist Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada is the top-seeded woman.
She is expected to face strong competition from 2017 European silver medallist Anna Pogorilaya of Russia, 2017 world junior silver medallist Marin Honda of Japan, 2016 world silver medallist Ashley Wagner of the US and ISU Grand Prix finalist Maria Sotskova of Russia.
Also competing are US national champion Karen Chen and Japan’s Rika Hongo.
Two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada lead the pairs start list and will face the likes of world silver medallists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany.
This year’s Four Continents bronze medallists Liubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Canada will also be hoping for a podium finish, along with 2017 European bronze medallists Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès of France.
ISU Grand Prix finalists Cheng Peng and Yang Jin of China and Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert of Russia are other pairings likely to be in contention.
The 2017-2018 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series consists of six events and culminates with the final in Japanese city Nagoya from December 7 to 10.
The top six qualifiers in each discipline will proceed to the final.
The global prize money for the Grand Prix is $272,000 (£207,000/€233,000).