How the U.S. Olympic figure skating team is chosen

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The U.S. Olympic figure skating team is chosen entirely by committees. It’s not as simple as taking the top finishers from the national championships.

The team of three men, three women, three ice dance couples and one pair will be announced on Jan. 6-7 at the U.S. Championships in San Jose.

The plan is to have three different team announcements within 24 hours of the conclusion of each discipline. The planned announcement schedule (all times Eastern):

Women — Saturday, 8 a.m.
Men — Sunday, 11:15 a.m.
Pair — Sunday, 12:45 p.m.
Ice Dance — Sunday, 8:55 p.m.

A different committee chooses the athletes for each discipline, but the criteria is the same across the board.

From U.S. Figure Skating:

Team members will be selected by U.S. Figure Skating’s International Committee, taking into consideration the results of events in the following order of importance:

2018 U.S. Championships
2017 Grand Prix Final
2017 World Championships
2017 Grand Prix Series
2017 Four Continents Championships
2017 U.S. Championships
2017 World Junior Championships
2017 Grand Prix Final

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Furthermore, U.S. Figure Skating broke down competitions into tiers in order of importance:

Tier 1
2018 U.S. Championships
2017 Grand Prix Final
2017 World Championships

Tier 2
2017 Grand Prix Series
2017 Four Continents Championships

Tier 3
2017 Challenger Series
2017 U.S. Championships
2017 World Junior Championships
2017 Junior Grand Prix Final

This criteria is what makes defending U.S. champions Nathan Chen and the ice dance couple of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani heavy favorites to make the Olympic team regardless of what they do at nationals.

Chen won this year’s Grand Prix Final, both of his Grand Prix Series events and the Four Continents Championships.

The Shibutani siblings took bronze at both the Grand Prix Final and world championships this year (the only U.S. medalists at worlds) and won both of their Grand Prix Series events.

No other U.S. skaters in any disciplines earned world or Grand Prix Final medals in 2017 or won any Grand Prix Series events.

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