Figure Skating Preview
U.S. Figure Skating looks to build on its 2014 Olympic success and is doing so behind a handful of veteran athletes, as well as several first-time Olympians. In 2014, in addition to Meryl Davis and Charlie White becoming the first American ice dancers to become Olympic champions, Team USA earned the bronze medal in the inaugural Olympic team event.

Returning members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team are Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. Chock and Bates have two world championship medals to their credit since Sochi, earning silver in 2015 and bronze in 2016, while the Shibutani siblings won the world championships silver medal in 2016 and bronze medal in 2017. Mirai Nagasu returns to the Olympic Winter Games for the first time since her fourth-place finish in 2010. 

Storylines

  • U.S. Figure Skating launched the Get Up campaign in October 2016 with the aim of increasing exposure and promoting the sport to a broader audience, both on and off the ice. The 18-month campaign will run through the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, offering fans new ways to engage with the sport across multiple platforms. Members of Team USA, figure skating alumni and U.S. Figure Skating members will be featured throughout the campaign.

  • The ice dance discipline continues to enjoy major international success. Since Team USA’s Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the 2014 Olympic gold medal, American ice dance teams have won five world championships medals, with Madison Chock and Evan Bates earning silver (2015) and bronze (2016), and Maia and Alex Shibutani also taking silver (2011, 2016) and bronze (2017). At the 2018 U.S. championships, less than one point separated the top three teams (Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue, Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani, Madison Chock/Evan Bates). All three American entries have been U.S. champions.

  • All eyes continue to be on the ladies of U.S. Figure Skating as they will compete to return to the Olympic podium for the first time since 2006. The 2018 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team will feature three U.S. champions, including 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu. In Vancouver, Nagasu finished fourth. Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell will make their Olympic debuts.

  • While members of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team live and train across the country, there are several training hub cities in which the athletes live. Mirai Nagasu, Vincent Zhou, and Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim are all based in Colorado Springs, Colorado – home of the U.S. Olympic Training Center and U.S. Figure Skating. Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon train together in Lakewood, California, with coach Rafael Arutunian. The greater Detroit area is home to two of the Team USA ice dance teams: Maia and Alex Shibutani (Canton, Michigan), and Madison Chock and Evan Bates (Novi, Michigan). Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue train in Montreal while Bradie Tennell trains in suburban Chicago.

  • Pairs team Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim, who have skated together for five years, were married in June 2016. The Colorado Springs, Colorado-based duo are the 2015 and 2018 U.S. champions. Scimeca-Knierim underwent multiple surgeries in 2016 and the team missed the Grand Prix season and 2017 U.S. Championships while she recovered.

  • Figure skaters are increasingly looking to outside influences to help them achieve their competitive goals. Several athletes work with renowned dancers, including Benji Schwimmer and Serge Onik, famous acrobats, mimes, acting coaches and trainers, to give them a competitive edge in choreography and off-ice training.

Athletes To Watch

Nathan Chen
Nathan Chen is the reigning U.S., Four Continents and Grand Prix Final champion. Having also won gold at his 2017 Grand Prix Series events in Russia and the U.S., he came to the U.S. championships in San Jose as the only undefeated male skater in the world this season. During his free skate at the 2017 U.S. Championships, Chen became the first skater to land five quadruple jumps in one program. In his season debut at the U.S. International Classic in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Chen performed a quadruple loop, making him the only skater in the world to land five different quadruple jumps in international competition.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates 
Madison Chock and Evan Bates are 2016 U.S. silver medalists and 2015 U.S. champions. The 2014 Olympians are two-time world championship medalists, having won silver in 2015 and bronze in 2016. The duo stays busy off the ice as well – Bates graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 and Chock designs the team’s costumes. 

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are four-time reigning U.S. bronze medalists and four-time world championship competitors. They train in Montreal alongside Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani 
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are two-time and reigning U.S. champions. They have three world championship medals to their name, earning bronze in 2011, silver in 2016 and bronze in 2017. They have medaled at the U.S. Championships for 13 consecutive years, winning titles at the intermediate (2006), novice (2007) and junior (2010) levels before moving to the senior level.

Mirai Nagasu
Mirai Nagasu is the 2008 U.S. champion and placed fourth at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She placed fourth at the 2017 U.S. Championships and opened her 2018 Olympic campaign with silver at the 2017 U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City. She is the second U.S. woman to land a triple Axel in international competition (Tonya Harding), and landed the jump in both programs at the International Classic earlier this season.

Qualification

Qualification spots were determined by Team USA’s performance at the 2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, held March 29-April 2, 2017, in Helsinki, Finland. Countries may earn up to three Olympic qualification spots in each discipline (ladies, men’s, pairs, ice dance). The U.S. earned 10 Olympic quota spots – including three in each men’s, women’s and ice dance discipline, and one in pairs – based on performances at the 2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in March.

The following qualification criteria applied per discipline:

Countries that had two or three skaters competing at the 2017 World Championships earned three spots to the Olympics if the total sum of their top-two placements was 13 or less (i.e. if Skater A is fourth and Skater B is fifth, three spots were earned because the sum was less than 13). If the combined total of a country’s top-two placements was between 14 and 28, two Olympic spots were earned.

If a country had one competitor at world championships, and that competitor finished in the top-two, three spots were earned. If a competitor finished between third and 10th place, two Olympic spots were earned.

The remaining spots were given to one skater/team from ISU member countries that failed to earn multiple spots (in order of those countries’ placements at the 2017 World Championships).

Click 
here to view the complete 2018 Olympic qualification procedures for figure skating.

Selection

Athletes qualified for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games based on the U.S. Figure Skating Olympic Team Selection Procedures. Rather than having a U.S. Olympic Team Trials, U.S. Figure Skating considered the athletes’ body of work over a longer period of time, assigning more value to performances at major events such as the U.S. Championships, ISU World Championships, Grand Prix Series and Final, and the Four Continents Championships.

While the team was named following the conclusion of the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, athletes’ placements at those championships did not necessarily guarantee a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.

Editor’s Note: This selection process overview is designed to provide general information only and should not be relied upon by athletes attempting to make the U.S. Olympic Team. The selection process is formally governed by selection procedures published by each National Governing Body. Athletes and other individuals interested in the selection process should contact the appropriate NGB to obtain the full selection procedures, or to seek clarification of the process.

Key Dates

Jan. 14-22

2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Kansas City, Missouri

March 29-April 2

2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships

Helsinki, Finland

Aug. 19-23

2017 U.S. Figure Skating Champs Camp

Colorado Springs, Colorado

October-December

2017 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series

CAN, CHN, RUS, JPN, FRA, USA

Nov. 24-26

2017 Skate America (Grand Prix Series event)

Lake Placid, New York

Dec. 7-10

2017 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final

Nagoya, Japan

Dec. 29, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018
2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships San Jose, California