For the upcoming season, see 2017–18 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.
The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (ISU Champions Series from 1995 to 1997) is a series of senior international figure skating competitions organized by the International Skating Union. The invitational series was inaugurated in 1995, incorporating several previously existing events. Medals are awarded in the disciplines of men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dancing. The junior-level equivalent is the ISU Junior Grand Prix.
Currently, the sanctioned competitions for the Grand Prix are:
- Skate America. First held in 1979 as Norton Skate, the event has been part of the series since 1995 and its location changes yearly.
- Skate Canada International. First held in 1973, the event has been part of the series since 1995 and its location changes yearly.
- Cup of China. It was created in 2003 and joined the Grand Prix series in the same year, replacing the German event. It has been held in Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin, and Nanjing.
- Trophée de France (Grand Prix International de Paris 1987–93, Trophée de France 1994–95, Trophée Lalique 1996–2003, and Trophée Éric Bompard 2004–15). First held in 1987, the event has been part of the series since 1995. It is almost always held in Paris — the six exceptions were 1991 (Albertville), 1994 (Lyon), 1995, 2014, 2015 (Bordeaux) and 2017 (Grenoble).
- Rostelecom Cup (Cup of Russia from 1996 to 2008). The Prize of Moscow News (1966–1990) having disappeared with the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Cup of Russia was established in 1996 and joined the series in the same year, adopting the name Rostelecom Cup in 2009. It is generally held in Moscow and, less frequently, in Saint Petersburg.
- NHK Trophy. First held in 1979, the event has been part of the series since 1995. The location changes yearly — it has been held in Tokyo, Sapporo, Kobe, Kushiro, Asahikawa, Hiroshima, Chiba, Morioka, Nagoya, Osaka, Nagano, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Sendai.
- Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final (Champions Series Final from 1995 to 1997). Created in 1995 to serve as the concluding event, it features the top six qualifiers in each discipline from the six earlier competitions. The event adopted its current name in the 1998–99 season. Its location changes yearly.
- Bofrost Cup on Ice (Earlier names: Fujifilm Trophy from 1986 to 1987, Nations Cup from 1995 to 1997, Sparkassen Cup on Ice from 1998 to 2001). First held in 1986, the event was part of the series from 1995 to 2002. Generally held in Gelsenkirchen, the event adopted the name Bofrost Cup on Ice in 2002.
Fall international competitions such as Skate America, organized by the skating federations of their host countries, had been held for many years prior to being organized into a series as separate individual events. Following the Nancy Kerrigan attack in 1994, television coverage of skating was saturated with made-for-TV professional skating events, while the traditional "amateur" or "eligible" competitions were neglected. In order to remedy this situation, in 1995, the skating federations from the United States, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan began to plan their events as a series with cooperative marketing of the television rights in those countries, and with prize money funded by the sale of those rights. At this point, the International Skating Union stepped in and asserted its ownership of the international television rights to the series.
When it was first created in the 1995–1996 skating season, the series was known as the ISU Champions Series. It did not become known as the Grand Prix of Figure Skating until the 1998–1999 season, when the ISU gained the rights to use that name.
It was originally composed of five events, held in the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, and France. Following the demise of the Prize of Moscow News, last held in 1990, the Russian federation created the Cup of Russia, which increased the number of events to six in 1996, the series' second year. In the fall of 2003, the event in Germany, the Bofrost Cup on Ice, was discontinued, and was replaced with one in China, due to the ISU having negotiated a more favorable television contract in that country.
In 1997, the ISU also created a similar series of developmental events for junior age-eligible skaters. Initially known as the ISU Junior Series, these events are now named the ISU Junior Grand Prix. This season begins before the senior-level one does.
Skaters are entered in the individual events either by being seeded or by invitation. The seeding of top skaters at Grand Prix events basically takes into account their placement from the previous World Championships, as well as their ISU international ranking. Skaters who are not seeded can be invited by the hosting country and each country can invite up to three of their own skaters for each discipline. This is to give a balanced field throughout the series, as well as allowing the hosting country a chance to showcase their top competitors.
The Grand Prix of Figure Skating uses a points-based system based on results from the selected international events. The top qualifying skaters from each discipline are eligible to compete in the Grand Prix Figure Skating Final. The entry, seeding, and qualification rules for the individual events have varied from year to year, and also between the different disciplines. Typically, seeded skaters can be entered in either two or three events (the third being designated a non-scoring event), while other skaters may be entered in either one or two events.
Starting with the 2003-04 season, the Interim Judging System was introduced for scoring events in the Grand Prix. This later developed into the ISU Judging System, often called the Code of Points (CoP), of figure skating, replacing the previous 6.0 system.
Over the years, the ISU has experimented with different formats for the Grand Prix Final competition. In some years, skaters were required to prepare three different programs rather than the normal two, with the third program being used for a skate-off between the top two finishers in each discipline after the initial rounds. This is no longer the case.
To be eligible for the senior Grand Prix series, skaters are required to have turned 14 by the preceding July 1 (e.g. July 1, 2009 for the 2009-10 series). A skater must meet the age requirement before it turns July 1 in their place of birth. For example, Adelina Sotnikova was born a few hours into July 1, 1996, in Moscow and consequently, was not eligible to compete until the 2011-12 season.
In 2011, minimum score requirements were added to the senior Grand Prix series and set at two-thirds of the top scores at the 2011 World Championships. Prior to competing in a senior Grand Prix event, skaters must earn the following:
The International Skating Union decided that the minimums do not apply to "host picks", i.e. Canadians Adriana DeSanctis and Elladj Baldé were allowed to compete at their home country's event, 2011 Skate Canada, despite failing to reach the minimums at the 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy.
Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner, Karen Chen and Maia and Alex Shibutani headline Skate America in November, highlighting this fall’s Grand Prix assignments announced Friday.
Gracie Gold is at Cup of China and Internationaux de France, also in November.
U.S. champion Nathan Chen and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will both debut at Rostelecom Cup, the first of six Grand Prix events, in late October.
That will mark an early season test for Chen, an 18-year-old who beat Hanyu at the Four Continents Championships at the PyeongChang Olympic venue last February but fell to sixth at worlds won by Hanyu in April.
Chen’s top challengers at Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y., are world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China and training partner and 2016 U.S. champion Adam Rippon.
Grand Prix Assignments: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance
Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion coming off her least successful season in six years, and the surprise U.S. champion Karen Chen are both entered in Skate Canada in October and Skate America.
Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, the two-time reigning world champion, is entered in Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy in Japan. She’ll face Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy in both events, as well as Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu, who finished three-four at the U.S. Championships in January.
The two-time U.S. champion Gold, who changed coaches after a disastrous season, will get an up-close look at Russian world junior champion Alina Zagitova at her two events in China and France.
Polina Edmunds, the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports at the Sochi Olympics at age 15, is entered in France as well. Edmunds hasn’t competed since the January 2016 U.S. Championships due to a bone bruise in her right foot.
Sochi Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova is not entered in any Grand Prix events.
She has not competed since placing sixth at the December 2015 Russian Championships but recently hired four-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko as a new coach.
Also absent from the Grand Prix lists are Olympic pairs champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov after Volosozhar gave birth to their daughter Feb. 16.
The Russian pair hasn’t competed since finishing sixth at the 2016 World Championships, their first time outside the top two in 19 top-level international competitions together.
Sotnikova and Volosozhar and Trankov could still be added to Rostelecom Cup as there are open spots for Russians in each discipline at that event.
Skate America, the biggest annual international event in the U.S., is one month later in this season’s calendar, taking place Thanksgiving weekend.
Here’s the full Grand Prix schedule:
Rostelecom Cup (Moscow) — Oct. 20-22
Skate Canada (Regina) — Oct. 27-29
Cup of China (Beijing) — Nov. 3-5
NHK Trophy (Osaka) — Nov. 10-12
Internationaux de France (Grenoble) — Nov. 17-19
Skate America (Lake Placid) — Nov. 24-26
Grand Prix Final (Nagoya, Japan) — Dec. 7-10
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