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Final Winter Olympic Qualifications to be Decided at 2021 Nebelhorn Trophy

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

A bit more than three quarters of the country spots for the Olympic Winter Games 2022 were decided at the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden in March 2021. But the last spots will be decided at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, like in 2009, 2013 and 2017. This traditional early fall competition has existed for more than 50 years. It is named after a mountain near the rink.

There is a rule change since the last Olympic qualification competition in 2017. This time, a country at first only has as many spots as there were skaters in the final at Worlds. If this one skater has been in the top ten or the two best skaters together have not more than 13 placing points together (for example finishing 5th and 8th), the country has the right to send a different skater from those in the final to Nebelhorn to get one more spot. The goal of this rule change is to avoid a country to get two or even three spots although it has only one good skater in this category. Some additional skaters will compete at Nebelhorn Trophy without any Olympic qualification.

In the women‘s competition, six Olympic spots out of 34 competitors will be decided. If a country gives back its spot, it might be seven. The USA has two guaranteed women’s spots because Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell were 4th and 9th at Worlds. This is not more than 13, therefore they will send Alysa Liu to be among the top seven of those who try to qualify for the Olympics at Nebelhorn and to win a third spot for the USA. Other strong women who have a good chance to win a spot for their country are Ekaterina Kurakova for Poland, Lara Naki Gutman for Italy and Alexia Paganini for Switzerland.

In the men’s competition, there are seven spots for 25 competitors trying to qualify. The USA has only two up to now because Nathan Chen was first and Jason Brown seventh, together less than 14. Therefore the USA will send Vincent Zhou to win a third Olympic spot because he had not reached the final in Stockholm. The strongest other men are Mark Kondratiuk for Russia, Brendan Kerry for Australia, Vladimir Litvintsev for Azerbaijan, Roman Sadovsky for Canada, Adam Siao Him Fa for France and Paul Fentz for Germany.

In ice dance, only four Olympic spots are open for 16 countries because only 23 couples will compete at the Olympic Games, instead of 24 in 2018. The USA has three spots guaranteed because their three ice dance couples were 2nd, 4th and 9th at Worlds. The best couples for the Olympic spots are Tina Garabedian & Simon Proulx Senecal for Armenia, Natalie Taschlerova & Filip Taschler for the Czech Republic, Juulia Turkkila & Matthias Versluis for Finland, Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya for Georgia and Yura Min & Daniel Eaton for South Korea.

For the 13 pairs, there are only three spots because 19 will compete at the Games instead of 20 in 2018. The USA have two Olympic spots guaranteed but cannot win a second spot because Knierim & Frazier were 7th and Cain-Gribble & Leduc 9th, which is 16 together, more than 13. The best pairs might be Yuchen Wang & Yihang Huang for China, Laura Barquero & Marco Zandron for Spain and Coline Keriven & Noel-Antoine Pierre for France.