ISU Grand Prix announcements to come in August The ISU did say that if the situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic changes then it would consider "financially assisting" ISU members wanting to host international juniors competitions.
Preference will be given to the ISU members which were previously set to stage JGP events.
Before the series cancellation, Canada, Slovakia and Japan cancelled their scheduled competitions leaving Hungary, Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Slovenia and Latvia to host regular season events ahead of December's Grand Prix Final in Beijing.
Now attention turns to senior competitions and whether they will take place this season.
The Challenger Series opener in Beijing, scheduled for 9-13 September, has been postponed with the event in Bratislava a week later cancelled.
There is no news as yet on the ISU Grand Prix series with nominations for the six events delayed from June until August.
The ISU Council will meet virtually on 3 August to "evaluate the pandemic developments and related situation and to update the season planning for the ISU senior Events".
There is nothing worse than uncertainty. The coronavirus has paused many sports events. The skaters waited the longest. But they were only allowed to start training, and there was no talk of tournaments - zero specifics.
And on August 4, the International Skating Union finally shed light on the 2020 season. Alexey "Professor" Mishin has already managed to compare the ISU solution with the appearance of the sun in the sky of figure skating.
The Grand Prix series will officially take place. The fans were deprived of the opportunity to see the confrontation between Kamila Valieva and Alisa Liu in the Grand Prix series among juniors. But then they gave the opportunity to contemplate adult athletes. So when can we expect the defense of the title by Alena Kostornaya, the only Russian winner in the GP Final last season?
There are still six stages in the calendar:
Skate America (USA, Las Vegas, October 23 - October 25);
Skate Canada (Canada, Ottawa, October 30 - November 1);
Cup of China (China, undefined city, November 6 - November 8);
Internationaux de France (France, undefined city, November 13 - November 15);
Rostelecom Cup (Russia, Moscow, November 20 - November 22);
NHK Trophy (Japan, undefined city, November 27 - November 29).
The final is due to take place on December 13 in China, but the timing may be postponed.
The Grand Prix series this year will not be what figure skating fans are used to. If earlier each athlete participated in two competitions of his own (coach, Federation) choice, now everything will be limited to only one start. And with a high degree of probability, Alena Kostornaya, like other Russian women, we will see at the end of November in Moscow at the Rostelecom Cup.
In fact, ISU decided to turn the Grand Prix series into open national championships. All skaters will be divided into three categories: first - athletes who live in the countries where the stages will be held; second, those who train in these countries; third - those who can come to the start, including observing the quarantine rules.
Explaining with the example of women's single skating. Russians Alina Zagitova, Alena Kostornaya, Anna Shcherbakova, Alexandra Trusova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva belong to both the first and second categories. They can participate in the Russian Grand Prix. And, for example, Evgenia Medvedeva is a different story. Now she belongs to the second category, as she trains in Russia, but the previous two years she lived and trained in Canada. Therefore, if Evgenia refuses to switch to Evgeni Plushenko and still remains with Orser, then she can compete not at the Russian Grand Prix, but at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Theoretically, conditional Zagitova and Kostornaya may not want to compete at the Russian Open Championship. But for this they will need to apply for the third category. If the borders are opened, then for the second year in a row, Russian women can go to France (the geographical principle from the ISU communique), subject to all epidemiological standards. Do they need it? Only if there are some psychological problems. For example, Alena wants to delay her crossings in official competitions with Eteri Tutberidze's group as much as possible.
The representative of Azerbaijan Yekaterina Ryabova is training in Russia, so we will certainly see her at the Rostelecom Cup. The Kazakh woman Elizabeth Tursynbaeva will also be at the Moscow stage if she improves her health. We are waiting for the Finnish woman Amy Peltonen, who lives nearby. Although the last place in last year's tournament may discourage her from the capital of Russia in favor of that of France.
In general, it is clear that nothing is clear. It's just the beginning of August. By the end of October, the situation in the world may change dramatically. Now a special working group is developing the competition regulations, as well as criteria and restrictions for participants, the size of the prize money and the conditions for getting into the Grand Prix Final. Apparently, in order to get to China, it will be necessary not only to take the first places, but also with the best possible scores. It is not excluded that the final six will be expanded.
The prestige of the tournament is undoubtedly being leveled as much as possible. Grand Prix results will not be included in the ISU World Ranking, and the scores shown by skaters in competition will not count as the technical minimum for ISU-sponsored championships.
But at the moment, the very fact of any start is important. After the cancellation of the 2020 World Cup and various shows, figure skaters yearned for ice and tournaments. No one will refuse the opportunity to test their strength on the eve of the national championship.
The fans will definitely be in favor with both hands. The level of the Russian championships is already superior to the same European championships. And this season we get the opportunity to see two or even three tournaments with our best skaters: the Czech Republic, the Grand Prix stage and the final of the Russian Cup.
Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.
Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.
The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.
The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.
The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.
Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.
The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.
Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.
“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”
The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.
Nathan Chen was slightly surprised to learn figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go on as scheduled this autumn, albeit with localized fields.
“I actually thought that we would be doing some virtual competitions,” he said by phone Tuesday evening. “But that being said, I’m thrilled that we’re actually getting the opportunity to compete again.”
Chen, a two-time world champion undefeated since enrolling at Yale in 2018, hopes to vie for his fourth straight Skate America title in October, tying a record shared by Todd Eldredge, Michelle Kwan and Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
“Given that everything is right, I would love to be there,” in Las Vegas from Oct. 23-25, Chen said. “But if things start to get a little bit shakier, I’ll have a little bit more questions.”
Chen already has quite a few questions.
“Obviously, how it’s going to look like,” he said. “What are the logistics of the competition? Will it continue to be held in Vegas? Or will the location be changed? Audience is also a question. Will there be an audience? What are the exact specificities with the judging system? How are the skaters going to be judged? Will it be all on site? Those are some questions and also, of course, who am I going to be competing against? Those are all questions that I would like answered, but time will tell and I’m not super concerned about those right now.”
The International Skating Union said relevant details will be shared as soon as possible by an ISU Council-appointed group along with organizers of the six Grand Prix events. The annual Grand Prix stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan leading up to December’s Grand Prix Final, which is in Beijing this season.
ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start, rather than the usual two, in the six-event series before the Final. Skaters will compete at the Grand Prix that makes the most sense geographically.
Chen left New Haven for his Southern California base in March, when the season-ending world championships were canceled one week before they were to start.
He couldn’t find a rink for training for two months, his longest time off ice since recovering from January 2016 hip surgery.