Figure skating 101: Qualifying for the 2018 Olympic Games


The 2017 World Championships, held from March 29 – April 2, 2017 in Helsinki, Finland, was the first and main qualification event for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

The maximum number of Olympic berths a country can earn is 18, or three athletes/teams in each disciple (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, the U.S. earned three berths in ladies’ figure skating because Karen Chen and Ashley Wagner finished fourth and seventh, respectively, at 2017 Worlds, and their combined rankings (4 + 7) added up to 11. If their combined rankings had equaled 14 or higher, the U.S. would be allowed to send only two female skaters to the PyeongChang Olympics. 

24 men, 24 women, 16 pairs and 19 ice dancing couples earned Olympic berths through this method at the 2017 World Championships.

The remaining spots—6 men, 6 women, 8 pairs and 10 ice dancing couples—are determined by a second qualification competition, the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, in September 2017.

Even though Chen and Wagner earned the ladies spots, the spots are not guaranteed to be theirs on the Olympic stage. The U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team will be selected after the 2018 U.S. Championships conclude on Jan. 7, 2018. 

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