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ISU relaxes qualifying standards for worlds

Lowers minimums required of ladies, men, pairs

Austria's Viktor Pfeifer, who recently placed a career-best eighth at the European championships, will get to compete at worlds.
Austria's Viktor Pfeifer, who recently placed a career-best eighth at the European championships, will get to compete at worlds. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany and Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(02/05/2013) - On Monday, the International Skating Union (ISU) announced it will be a bit easier to gain entry to the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, in March.

Last summer, a decision was made at the ISU Congress to abolish the qualification (preliminary) rounds at ISU championships and have all skaters directly enter the short program or short dance. This would have meant 50 or 60 ladies and men's short programs, with competitions stretching from 8-10 hours.

Fearing fan overload and also seeking to save money, the ISU Council instituted minimum technical element scores (TES) skaters and teams must gain in international competition, in order to enter an ISU championships. These scores may be earned this season or during the 2011-12 season.

The minimum TES required for the European Figure Skating Championships, Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and World Junior Figure Skating Championships were generally regarded as fair, excluding only the technically weakest competitors. However, the minimum TES needed for entry to the world championships were thought by many to be too high, with fears they would exclude countries, including several in Europe, from participating in worlds.

Ideally, the ISU wants five warm-up groups for each short program or short dance, and four warm-up groups for the free skate or free dance. A review of the skaters who had met the minimums reveals there are insufficient numbers to meet this demand. Therefore, the ISU revised the required TES, as follows:

Ladies
Short Program TES required - Was 28/Now 26
Free Skate TES required - Was 48/Now 46

Men's
Short Program TES required - Was 35/Now 32
Free Skate TES required - Was 65/Now 60

Pairs
Short Program TES required - Was 28/Now 24
Free Skate TES required - Was 45/Now 41

Ice Dancing
Short Dance TES required - Remains 29
Free Dance TES required - Remains 39

Here's a look at how each discipline may be impacted by these changes.

Ladies

Several ladies will profit from the reduction in minimum required TES. Australian Brooklee Han's scores at the 2012 Nebelhorn Trophy will now grant her entry. Juulia Turkkila, Finland's second-ranked skater, earned the new minimums at the 2012 Finlandia Trophy, as did Italy's Roberta Rodeghiero. (Italy has three world ladies spots to fill.)

Men

The newly lowered minimum has boosted several men into the world-eligible category, including Christopher Caluza of the Philippines, who trains in California (21st at worlds in 2012); Viktor Pfeifer, the Austrian who trains in Delaware and who recently placed a career-best eighth at the 2013 European Championships; and Kim Lucine, the former French competitor who now represents Monaco (23rd at 2012 worlds).

Lucine may play a larger role in the ISU decision. At the recent European championships in Zagreb, the skater's father and coach told reporters Prince Albert, Monaco's head of the state and the president of the principality's small ice sport federation, would speak directly to ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta about the matter. Prince Albert and Cinquanta are members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Prince Albert wants Lucine to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Pairs

The lower requirements allow at least three more pairs the chance to compete in London. Brits Stacey Kemp and David King, who train in Ellenton, Fla., under Jim Peterson and Lyndon Johnston, earned the new TES with their 10th-place finish at the 2013 European Championships. Poles Magdalena Klatka and Radoslaw Chruscinski, 15th in Europe, gained the necessary points at the 2012 World Junior Championships. The second Italian pair, Nicole della Monica and Matteo Guarise, who placed ninth at Europeans, also qualified.

Ice Dancing

With more than 25 couples having already qualified for the 2013 World Championships, the ISU is holding firm on required TES. This is partially due to scores delivered to couples at senior "B" events in Europe. At the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany, in December, Cathy Reed and Chris Reed of Japan, as well as Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones of France, gained the minimum TES. In a competition in Lyon, France, last month, Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz of Spain and Czech couple Lucie Mysliveckova and Neil Brown -- who train in Muriel Zazoui's school in Lyon -- earned the required scores.

It was the same story at the Nesquik Cup in Torun, Poland, where Polish couple Justyna Plutowska and Peter Gerber, who train in Barrie, Ontario, gained the required minimum points, and at the Volvo Cup in Riga, Latvia, where Estonians Irina Shtork and Taavi Rand were awarded the necessary scores.

Several dance teams, however, are still out in the cold. Australians Danielle O'Brien and Gregory Merriman, who train at the Detroit Skating Club under a group headed by Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova, will have another chance to gain the required TES at the 2013 Four Continents Championships this week. Swiss couple Ramona Elsener and Florian Roost will try this weekend at the Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Skaters who have not yet qualified may still do so at upcoming international events. In addition to the Bavarian Open and Four Continents, these include: the 2013 World Junior Championships in Milan; European Criterium in Vienna, Austria; Dragon Trophy in Ljubliana, Slovenia; the Olympic Youth Festival in Brasov, Romania; and The Challenge Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.