How do Figure Skaters Qualify for the 2018 Olympics?

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(L-R) Silver medallist Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, Gold medallist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia and Bronze medallist Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman listen to the national anthems after the woman’s Free Skating event at the 2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

As the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics approach, elite figure skaters are in the midst of one of the most important seasons of their careers.

The U.S. Olympic figure skating team will be selected after the 2018 U.S. Championships conclude on Jan. 7, 2018 in San Jose, California.

U.S. Figure Skating differs from the national governing bodies of many other sports, factoring in its athletes’ entire performance over the previous year rather than relying on a single qualifying event.

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The 2017 World Championships, which took place from March 29 to April 2, 2017 in Helsinki, Finland, was the first qualification event for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

The maximum number of Olympic spots a country can earn is three athletes or teams (pairs/ice dancing) in each discipline which consist of women’s, men’s, pairs and ice dancing.

To earn three spots in a discipline, the final rankings of the country’s two best skaters/teams must add up to 13 or fewer.

For example, countries that had two or three skaters compete in ladies singles at Worlds, can earn three spots to the Olympics in that discipline if the total sum of their top two placements at the world championships is less than 13.

If a country’s top two placements are between 14 and 28, two Olympic spots are earned.

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The U.S. Figure Skating Team in PyeongChang will have its fewest entries since the first Winter Olympics in 1924, with just 14 athletes.

The U.S. earned three spots in ladies’ figure skating because Karen Chen and Ashley Wagner finished fourth and seventh at 2017 Worlds, for a combined ranking that added up to 11.

The U.S. will have three men’s spots after Nathan Chen and Jason Brown finished sixth and seventh, respectively, at Worlds. However, only one pairs team will represent the U.S. in the Olympics after Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim finished in 10th place in Worlds.

The U.S. qualified for three ice dance couples. Maia and Alex Shibutani placed third while Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished in seventh place. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue placed ninth.

The U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in January, will serve as the main Olympic qualifying event for U.S. figure skaters, however it is taken into account along with the skaters’ results from other competitions in the previous year.

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The figure skaters who will represent the United States at the Olympics will be announced just a few weeks before opening ceremonies following the conclusion of Nationals.

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