By EOI Staff
After three days of intense competition, countless tests and masks, the final quota places for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have been decided at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Redemption For Zhou
The reason Vincent Zhou (USA) was in Oberstdorf in the first place was down to narrowly missing the cut for the free skating at the World Championships in March and it was fitting he was the one to secure a third spot for the United States in Beijing. He did so in some style landing two quadruple jumps in the short programme and four in the free (albeit with five of those attempts receiving quarter under calls from the technical panel). In the end, he finished 40 points ahead of the rest of the field to claim the title.
Adam Siao Him Fa (FRA) picked up the silver medal with a second place in the short and third in the free giving France two Olympic spots in the men’s event for the first time since Sochi 2014.
The unheralded Mark Kondratiuk (RUS) did what he came to do by capturing the bronze medal and Russia will have three men’s singles competitors at the Olympics for the first time since the heady days of 2002 and the Alexei Yagudin-Evgeni Plushenko rivalry.
Also for the first time at the Olympics, South Korea will have two skaters in the men’s category thanks to Sihyeong Lee (KOR) earning an extra quota place.
Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) became the first men’s singles competitor from Azerbaijan to qualify a spot for the Olympics since Sergei Rylov competed at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Brendan Kerry (AUS) had been sitting in third place after the short in Oberstdorf, but he had to fight for his place in Beijing with a late clutch triple Axel sealing a third trip to the Olympics for the Australian.
The final spot was clinched by Roman Sadovsky (CAN) with the Canadian collecting a second spot for his country by just a handful of points.
Liu Lands Third US Beijing Spot
Alysa Liu (USA) took her third title in her debut senior season and was a comfortable victor even with her triple Axel missing in action. The rising young star of American skating ensured three places for her country in the women’s category in Beijing.
Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) surpassed Liu’s technical score in the free at Nebelhorn to leap from sixth after the short to second overall. She will be the first woman from Poland to skate at the Olympics since Anna Jurkiewicz in 2010.
By coming third in both segments of the competition, Viktoriia Safonova (BLR) took bronze and will be the first Belarussian skater to participate in the women’s category since Julia Soldatova in 2002.
Alexia Paganini (SUI) was the unlucky one in the women’s event to just miss out on advancing to the free at Stockholm Worlds, so as she did at Nebelhorn four years ago she earned an Olympic spot for Switzerland at the last opportunity in Oberstdorf.
Last season Anastasiia Shabotova (UKR) became the 12th woman to land a triple Axel in international competition. There was no sign of the element at Nebelhorn, but she did not need it to nab an Olympic berth for Ukraine in Beijing.
Kailani Craine (AUS) won the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy to send her to her first Olympics in PyeongChang. Things were much tighter this time round and she took the sixth and final spot by less than a point after a scrappy free skate. Craine will be the first Australian to compete in the women’s figure skating event at consecutive Olympics.
Barquero/Zandron Make Spanish History
Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nolan Seegert (GER) won gold in the pairs event and picked up the first title at Nebelhorn for the host country since 2016. With Germany already having already qualified a spot for one of its pairs in Beijing, their win had no bearing on the Olympic quota places race.
There was delight for the silver medallists Laura Barquero and Marco Zandron (ESP) as they became the first pair from Spain to earn an Olympic spot. Remarkably this is the first season the duo are competing together.
This will also be the first time a pair from Georgia will take part in the Olympics as Karina Safina and Luka Berulava picked up bronze in Oberstdorf.
Mere months after pairing up, Hailey Kops and Evgeni Krasnopolski (ISR) booked their ticket to Beijing by coming fifth. This will be Krasnopolski’s third consecutive Olympics each with a different partner.
Finns Step To The Top
Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis (FIN) handsomely won the Nebelhorn ice dance title and in doing so became the first ice dancers from Finland since the legendary Susanna Rakhamo and Petri Kokko in 1994 to pick up an Olympic spot.
Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya (GEO) won bronze right behind Katharina Mueller and Tim Dieck (GER). As Germany bagged a quota place at Stockholm Worlds, the Georgians were the second team in terms of Beijing qualification and meant Georgia will now have skaters in each of the four disciplines at an Olympics for the first time.
There was a happy ending for Tina Garabedian and Simon Proulx Senecal (ARM) after they missed out on competing at all in March at Worlds due to a positive Covid test in Stockholm that cruelly turned out to be false on further testing. This will the first Olympic appearance by Armenian skaters since the 2006 Torino Games.
Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler (CZE) dropped from second after the rhythm dance to fifth place overall. However, the Czech siblings had sufficient breathing space over the sixth place team to take the final quota spot.
The Nebelhorn Trophy also neatly resolved which countries would qualify for the Team Event in Beijing as between Worlds and Nebelhorn only ten nations qualified in at least three disciplines. Those countries are (in alphabetical order) Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Georgia, Italy, Japan, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Ukraine and the United States.