The 2017 ISU European Figure Skating Championships are set to begin in Ostrava tomorrow ©ISU

The first International Skating Union (ISU) European Figure Skating Championships to be held in Ostrava in the Czech Republic are set to begin tomorrow.

A total of 166 skaters from 33 ISU member nations have been entered for the 2017 Championships, and will compete across four days.

Three reigning European champions will be aiming to defend their titles this week.

In the men’s event defending European champion Javier Fernandez of Spain is hunting a fifth consecutive gold medal, but will face strong competition from Russian, Israeli and Czech skaters.

Fernandez, who won two Grand Prix events and placed fourth in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Marseille earlier this season, arrives with a season's best of 292.98 points.

The challenge should come from Russian duo Mikhail Kolyada and Maxim Kovtun as well as 2016 European silver medallist Alexei Bychenko of Israel. 

Former European bronze medallist Michal Brezina will be hoping to make the most of home advantage this week while other contenders include 2016 world junior champion Daniel Samohin of Israel, Belgium's Jorik Hendrickx and Alexander Majorov of Sweden.

Russia's female skaters are aiming to complete a third consecutive podium sweep at the European Championships, but returning five-time champion Carolina Kostner of Italy will be a threat.

Reigning World and European champion Evgenia Medvedeva has been in top form this season and is the one to beat in Ostrava.

Medvedeva was joined on the podium by Elena Radionova and Anna Pogorilaya last year and the trio will go in search of another impressive medal haul this week.

Double European Championships bronze medallists Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia appear to be the favourites in the pairs event following their win at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, where they set a personal best of 213.86 points.

Javier Fernandez of Spain is hunting a fifth consecutive men's European title ©Getty Images
Javier Fernandez of Spain is hunting a fifth consecutive men's European title ©Getty Images

Defending European silver medallists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany are also contenders after they won two Grand Prix events, before Savchenko injured her ankle at the Trophée de France in November.

As a result they had to withdraw from the Grand Prix Final.

Other podium contenders include Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert of Russia, French duo Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres and Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek of Italy.

Defending champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are not competing this season as Volosozhar is expecting a baby in February.

In the ice dance event, double European and world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France are looking to secure their third consecutive title.

The French duo claimed the silver medal at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and arrive with a season's best of 193.54 points.

Last year's European Championships silver medallists Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy and Russian bronze medallists Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev will also be confident of securing gold.

The winners of the men's and women's categories will each receive $20,000 (£16,000/€18,600) while the pairs and ice dance champions will be awarded $30,000 (£24,000/€28,000) per couple.

Action begins tomorrow with the ladies short programme before the pairs short programme, short dance and pairs free skating competitions begin on Thursday (January 26).

Men’s short programme and ladies free skating then take centre stage on Friday (January 27) before competition comes to a close on Saturday (January 28) with the free dance and men’s free skating

An exhibition gala will then bring proceedings to a close on Sunday (January 29).