By EOI Staff
The eyes of the skating world turn to the German town of Oberstdorf this week as the final quota places for the Beijing Winter Olympics next February will be allotted at the Nebelhorn Trophy.
The majority of spots for Beijing were allocated at the World Championships in March this year in Stockholm, Sweden (see table below). There was a tweak to the qualifying process from previous Olympics. If a country earned two or three spots at Worlds, but a second or third skater did not qualify for the free skating, they received the opportunity to qualify one extra spot at the Nebelhorn Trophy. The skater entered into Nebelhorn cannot have competed in the free skating at Worlds.
While the qualifying period for the Olympic Team Event will not be completed until December 2021, any nation failing to secure spots in at least three disciplines by the end of Nebelhorn Trophy will be ineligible to enter the event in Beijing. Austria, France, Georgia, Great Britain, South Korea, Sweden and Ukraine have already qualified in two disciplines.
Men (7 Spots/26 Countries)
This week provides Vincent Zhou (USA) a chance for redemption. The 2019 World bronze medallist was a shock non-qualifier for the free skating at Stockholm Worlds this year when he finished 25th in the short programme. The American already has a victory this season at last month’s Cranberry Cup International under his belt and it would be a huge shock if he were not to earn another spot for the United States this week in Germany.
Roman Sadovsky (CAN) and Mark Kondratiuk (RUS) were both selected on the basis of test skates in their respective countries and are sure to be in the mix for qualifying quota places. As is Adam Siao Him Fa (FRA) who is fresh off claiming a silver medal at the Lombardia Trophy less than two weeks ago.
Brendan Kerry (AUS) and Paul Fentz (GER) will use the experience of competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics as motivation to secure a slot for their countries in Beijing. Another skater to watch out for is Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) with his personal best of 230.84 from 2019 Worlds in Saitama, Japan.
Women (6 Spots/33 Countries)
This season marks the senior debut for Alysa Liu (USA) and she already has picked up two titles (Cranberry Cup International and Lombardia Trophy) in those few short weeks. The two-time U.S. champion is the clear favourite to add a third at Nebelhorn.
Alexia Paganini (SUI) picked up a spot for Switzerland at this same event four years and barely missed out at Stockholm Worlds this time round when she finished 25th in the short programme. The three-time Swiss champion switched coaches from Stephane Lambiel to Gheorghe Chiper at the end of last season.
Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) was way off the pace for Olympic qualification in March, but earlier this month she won silver at Lombardia Trophy behind Liu and ahead of Paganini which suggests she is in better form this season.
Kailani Craine (AUS) won the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy to book her spot for PyeongChang. The Australian could only muster a 12th place finish at the Cranberry Cup International last month and will need to improve on that performance if she is to have a repeat Olympic appearance.
The only discipline that Italy did not qualify quota spots at Stockholm Worlds was in the women’s event. Lara Naki Gutmann (ITA) will have a good chance to do so if she performs to her best.
Viktoriia Safonova (BLR), Lea Serna (FRA) and Emilea Zingas (CYP) should also be in the hunt for those final places in Beijing.
Pairs (3 Spots/13 Countries)
The new pairing of Laura Barquero and Marco Zandron (ESP) burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion when they second at Lombardia Trophy earlier this month. If they skate as well this week, they could become the first Spanish skaters to qualify an Olympic spot in the pairs event.
Yuchen Wang and Yihang Huang (CHN) are in Germany to collect a third spot for China in their strongest discipline for the Beijing Olympics. This will be their first international competition as a senior pair.
Hailey Kops is Evgeni Krasnopolski’s seventh partner and will be aiming for a first Olympic appearance while Krasnopolski is hoping to make a third consecutive Games representing Israel.
Lana Petranovic and Antonio Souza Kordeiru (CRO) and Zoe Jones and Christopher Boyadji (GBR) are two of the veteran pairs attempt to qualify for a first Olympics.
Karina Safina and Luka Berulava (GEO) took a silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix in Kosice, Slovakia at the beginning of this month.
Ice Dance (4 Spots/17 Countries)
Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya (GEO) did not compete at all last season due to health issues. In the previous season, the Georgians won the Junior Grand Prix Final and a silver medal at the Junior World Championships.
The two teams closest to making the cut for the free dance at Stockholm Worlds were Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis (FIN) and Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler (CZE) respectively. The Czechs narrowly finished ahead of the Finns at the Lombardia Trophy earlier this month with both partnerships scoring new personal bests.
Tina Garabedian and Simon Proulx Senecal (ARM) made it to Stockholm Worlds, but did not get to skate due to return a positive Covid-19 test that later turned out to be false.