Olympic figure skating team event qualifiers announced

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The Olympic figure skating team event qualifiers via the International Skating Union (ISU):

1. Canada
2. Russia*
3. United States
4. Japan
5. China
6. Italy
7. France
8. Germany
9. Israel
10. South Korea
Alternate: Australia

Spain would have made it in ninth place had it enough skaters qualified in individual Olympic events to participate in the team event. But it did not qualify any women or pairs teams for Pyeongchang.

Russia’s status is unknown given the IOC’s sanctions against its National Olympic Committee.

“The IOC is currently preparing all operational details relating to the participation of the Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR) which will be communicated as soon as available,” the ISU said earlier Saturday.

An IOC panel will at some point invite selected Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics. At least one man, one woman, one pair and one ice dance couple must be invited for the Olympic Athletes from Russia team to be eligible for the team event.

Russia easily won the first Olympic team event in Sochi, with Canada taking silver and the U.S. bronze, both comfortably as well.

Russia and Canada could have a tight battle for gold in Pyeongchang given Canada has improved in the women’s event with the reigning world silver and bronze medalists.

Canada’s key could be the performance of Sochi silver medalist Patrick Chan.

The three-time world champ has been the only reliable Canadian man for several years but struggled in his opening Grand Prix event this season in October, then withdrew from his only other scheduled competition before next month’s nationals.

Meanwhile, Russia’s men’s program improved greatly this year, putting two men in the exclusive six-man Grand Prix Final.

If Russia outscores Canada in the men’s portion of the team program, that might be enough for a second straight Olympic title.

The U.S. is in a similar position to four years ago — clear bronze-medal favorite — thanks to Nathan Chen and ice dance depth.

The U.S. will have to use the same pairs team in both team event programs because it only qualified one entry for the Olympic pairs event. It can sub out skaters in two of the other three team event disciplines between the short and long programs.

The top eight nations from the 2014 Olympic team event all qualified for Pyeongchang, where the team event will again begin the day before the Opening Ceremony.

The top five out of 10 nations after the short programs advance to the free skates.

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