The Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual international figure skating competition, will not take place as scheduled in December in Beijing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Skating Union announced Wednesday that the Final was postponed.
There were “a number of logistical points raised by potentially participating teams that meant that hosting the competitions on the scheduled dates (close to the end of year holidays and national championships) would have impacted on the number of participants, given the potential need to quarantine on returning to their home country,” according to the ISU.
The ISU is “evaluating the continuation” of the upcoming season and possible rescheduling of the competition in China, which doubles as a 2022 Beijing Olympic test event.
The Grand Prix Final, held every December after the six-event Grand Prix Series, is the biggest indicator of Olympic and world championships medal prospects.
The Grand Prix Series is still scheduled to start with Skate America in Las Vegas from Oct. 23-25.
Fields have not been announced, but skaters are restricted to compete at the event in their home nation or in or near their training location.
The ISU also announced that the remaining World Cup short track speed skating stops in 2020 were postponed or canceled — Seoul and Beijing, both in December.
Previously, the first short track World Cups in November were canceled. All four of the long-track speed skating World Cups scheduled this fall were also canceled.
Grand Prix assignments handed out for figure skating season The six-event series will look more like regional events as the ISU sets to limit international travel, though some skaters chose to compete near their training bases.
The assignments were handed out on Thursday (1 Oct.) for the ISU’s Grand Prix Series of Figure Skating, with athletes limited to just one event versus the normal two.
Little is normal in COVID times, however, and the assignments are as expected: With most of the Grand Prix events taking on a national feel as athletes are limited to traveling in their home or training nation/region.
That means that Skate America, set for 23-25 Oct. in Las Vegas, will feature two-time and reigning world champion Nathan Chen, while the field for the Russian ladies event is blockbuster, including Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva, reigning European champion Alena Kostornaia, and two other on-the-rise stars in Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova.
PyeongChang 2018 gold medallist and 2019 world champion Alina Zagitova is not assigned to any event at this time.
Two-time world champions in pairs, Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, will compete at home in China, while the four-time ice dance world champs Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron will skate at the Internationaux de France instead of Skate Canada, though they train in Montreal.
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Hanyu Yuzuru announced in late August that he would sit the Grand Prix out, due to concerns of traveling during the pandemic. The Japanese star has eight Grand Prix golds to his name and has won four golds at the Grand Prix Final, which was delayed from its December date by official earlier this week.
Trainer base option for some The assignments list does see a few athletes competing away from home and closer to their training bases, most notably Uno Shoma, the 2018 Olympic silver medallist, set to skate in France. He will be joined there by compatriot Kihira Rika. Fellow Japanese skater Miyahara Satoko is set for Skate Canada in week two of the season.
Other notable names away from their home/regional Grand Prix events: Three-time world medallists Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia at Skate America; Keegan Messing of Canada at Skate America; and Jason Brown of the U.S. at Skate Canada.
A full list of assignments can be found here:https://isu.org/figure-skating/events/grand-prix-of-figure-skating
Chen headlines Vegas; Brown vs. Cha in Ottawa Skate America is set to kick off the season later this month, U.S. Figure Skating announcing the event will be closed-doors with no fan access. In the men's event, Chen will have a challenger in 2019 world bronze medallist Vincent Zhou.
In ice dance in Las Vegas, it will be Madison Chock and Evan Bates going head-to-head with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.
At Skate Canada (30 Oct.-Nov. 1) in Ottawa, Brown is joined in the men's field by Korean skater Cha Jun-hwan, both men training with Brian Orser in Toronto. Canada's Nam Nguyen should factor in there, as well. Ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier will be favoured against a field that has an international flavour, including the Team GB duo of Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson.
Papadakis/Cizeron head home; Kihira, Uno also in France The pairs event will the strongest at Cup of China (Nov. 6-10), where Sui and Han will face off against Peng Cheng and Jin Yang. Jin Boyang and Yan Han will clash in men's singles.
In Grenoble, France (Nov. 13-15), Kihira and Uno will go up against European fields in the women's and men's events, respectively, including Kevin Aymoz of France and Matteo Rizzo of Italy in the men's competition. Papdakis and Cizeron's chief challengers in dance should be Rizzo's Italian counterparts, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri.
Russian fields stacked; Takahashi returns Russia's figure skating prowess will be on display at Rostelecom Cup (Nov. 20-22), with a loaded ladies field that includes Kostornaia, Trusova, Medvedeva and Shcherbakova, as well as 2015 European and world champ Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. A resurgent Mikhail Kolyada, who looked good at the Russian test skates last month, will lead a men's field that also features Dmitri Aliev.
Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii will battle it out in pairs with Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin, while Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin lead the dance field along with Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov.
At the NHK Trophy in Osaka (Nov. 27-29), the absences of Hanyu, Uno, Kihira and Miyahara will be felt in singles. That opens the door for Sakamoto Kaori and a host of other established women in the ladies' event, while Kagiyama Yuma, the 2020 Youth Olympic Games winner could have a breakout result.
And plenty of fans are looking forward to the return of Takahashi Daisuke, the Vancouver 2010 bronze medallist in men's singles. He's back -- in ice dance -- and teaming up with Muramoto Kana.
NBC Sports airs nearly 100 hours of figure skating on TV this season.
The sport’s premier events — the Grand Prix Series and U.S., European, Four Continents and world championships — all air among NBC and NBCSN.
Peacock Premium — available here — live streams all of those major competitions, replacing NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass.”
A more detailed TV schedule for early 2021 events will be published later this fall.
Nathan Chen is the season-long headliner, putting at stake a two-year win streak since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. Chen’s rival, two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, is not competing in the autumn Grand Prix Series but could face Chen at Four Continents and worlds.
Two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, at 15, is too young for major senior international competition. But she can at January’s U.S. Championships become the first woman to win three straight national titles since Michelle Kwan.
Internationally, Russia has the world’s top female skaters, though PyeongChang gold medalist Alina Zagitova is on an indefinite break from competition.
The world’s top pair, Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, and ice dance couple, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, have also been dominant since PyeongChang. Sui and Han are undefeated in this Olympic cycle. Papadakis and Cizeron suffered just one defeat.
Grand Prix Series TV Schedule
Date Competition Time (ET) Network Friday, Oct. 23 Skate America 8 p.m.– Midnight NBCSN (Live) Saturday, Oct. 24 Skate America 3 – 6 p.m. NBC (Live) Saturday, Oct. 24 Skate America 9 p.m. – Midnight NBCSN (Live) Sunday, Nov. 1 Skate Canada (canceled) 12 -1:30 p.m. NBC Sunday, Nov. 8 Cup of China 12 -1:30 p.m. NBC Sunday, Nov. 15 Internationaux de France 4 – 6 p.m. NBC Sunday, Nov. 22 Rostelecom Cup 4 – 6 p.m. NBC Sunday, Nov. 29 NHK Trophy 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. NBC 2020-21 Figure Skating Season Broadcast Schedule
Dates Competition Network/Platform Oct. 23-25 Skate America NBC NBCSN Peacock Premium Oct. 30-Nov. 1 Skate Canada (canceled) NBC Peacock Premium Nov. 6-8 Cup of China NBC Peacock Premium Nov. 9-13 U.S. Championship Series – Blaine, Minn.* Peacock Premium Nov. 10-15 U.S. Championship Series – Norwood, Mass.* Peacock Premium Nov. 11-15 U.S. Championship Series – Spokane, Wash.* Peacock Premium Nov. 13-15 Internationaux de France NBC Peacock Premium Nov. 17-20 U.S. Championship Series – Alpharetta, Ga.* Peacock Premium Nov. 17-20 U.S. Championship Series – Fort Wayne, Ind.* Peacock Premium Nov. 20-22 Rostelecom Cup NBC Peacock Premium Nov. 24-28 U.S. Championship Series – Henderson, Nev.* Peacock Premium Nov. 27-29 NHK Trophy NBC Peacock Premium Dec. 1-6 U.S. Championship Series – Leesburg, Va.* Peacock Premium Dec. 1-6 U.S. Championship Series – Frisco, Texas* Peacock Premium Jan. 11-17 U.S. Championships* NBC NBCSN Peacock Premium Jan. 25-31 European Championships NBC NBCSN Peacock Premium Feb. 8-14 Four Continents Championships NBC NBCSN Peacock Premium Feb. 24-27 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships* Peacock Premium March 22-28 World Championships NBC NBCSN Peacock Premium April 9-10 World Synchronized Skating Championships Peacock Premium *Only includes junior and senior competition