by George S Rossano
With Nathan Chen and Jason Brown delivering first and seventh place results at the 2021 World Championships, their combined placement of 8 was far better than the 13 needed to earn three entries at the 2022 World Championships.
But if you though that also means the U.S. earned three entries for the Men's event at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, you underestimate the Byzantine complexity of ISU rules.
While the World Championships determines the full allocation of entries for the next World Championships, only part of the Olympic entries are determined at Worlds. A number of entries are left unallocated, and these unallocated entries are filled at the Nebelhorn Trophy which is held in September and acts as a qualifying competition.
For the Olympic Winter Games there are a maximum of 30 entries for Ladies and Men, nineteen 19 for Pair Skating and 23 for Ice Dance. Up to 24 entries for Ladies and Men, 16 for Pair Skating event and up to 19 for Ice Dance are determined at Worlds. The remainder will be determined at Nebelhorn.
So what does that have to do with the U.S. men?
There is, it turns out, an additional detail when it comes to qualifying for three entries for the Olympics. If a country has two or three entries in the World Championships not only must the combined placement of their top two skaters be 13 or less, three competitors must reach the free skate (or free dance). Since Vincent Zhou placed 25th in the short program and did not reach the free skate, the U.S. only earned two entries for the 2022 Olympics for certain. The third potential U.S. spot is added to the entries up for grabs at Nebelhorn, and the U.S. must sends a skater who must earn the third U.S. Olympic entry there.
The U.S. Ladies are in a similar situation. Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell had a cumulative placement total of 13, but there were only two U.S. ladies in the free skate. So the ladies must also contest for the third Olympic entry at Nebelhorn.
Men: Twenty-three entries were allocated at Worlds. Seven entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S. (currently with two entries) can contest for one of the seven.
Ladies: Twenty-four entries were allocated at Worlds. Six entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S. (currently with two entries) can contest for one of the six.
Pairs: Sixteen entries were allocated at Worlds. Three entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S. (currently with two entries) did not earn the right to contest for one of the three.
Dance: Nineteen entries were allocated at Worlds. Four entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S. (currently with the maximum allowed three entries) cannot contest for additional entries.