The 1982 Monaco Grand Prix was in many ways an unusual race. It started to rain late in the race, and so race leader Alain Prost pushed to hard and spun into the barrier. Riccardo Patrese too spun, and stalled his Brabham BT49C.
Didier Pironi ran out of fuel in the tunnel on the last lap, as did Andrea de Cesaris before he even could take the lead. Mr. Patrese in the meantime managed to bump-start his car down a hill to go and win the race.
Hi! I'm new to understanding the sport. How are skaters assigned to Grand Prix events? I'm confused. Thanks in advance!
Thanks for asking! (And welcome to figure skating!)
The assignments to Grand Prix events are a notoriously convoluted process, but are based around four key factors.
Factor 1: World Championships results
That’s right: Worlds placement doesn’t just guarantee the number of spots your country gets next season, it can also guarantee you Grand Prix slots. The top 12 finishers at Worlds (for singles) are guaranteed two Grand Prix assignments the following season. Yay!
The top six skaters are referred to as seeded skaters. This is to try and prevent too many top skater head-to-heads during the actual GP. The top three skaters cannot be assigned to the same GP as each other, and neither can the skaters who finished 4-6. So Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno, and Boyang Jin cannot be at the same GPs as each other this season.
Factor 1A: Comeback Skaters
Worlds results also come in handy for other reasons. If a skater or couple has finished inside the top 12 at Worlds in 2015 or 2016 and has not competed for a season or more (usually due to injury), the skater can be eligible for GP assignments. The big winners out of this rule for this season are Joshua Farris (USA, 11th at 2015 Worlds, out since July 2015 with concussion) and Penny Coombes and Nick Buckland (UK, 7th at 2016 Worlds, out since May 2016 with knee injury). Both will be able to be considered for an assignment with these results.
Factor 1B: Junior Worlds
In the old days, winning Junior Worlds (or the Junior Grand Prix Final) meant that you were guaranteed at least one Senior assignment, if you were age-eligible. However, this rule has since changed, and this is no longer a guarantee.
Factor 2: World Standings (WS)
Grand Prix events, certain Senior B events, Challenger events, the Grand Prix Final, the Junior Grand Prix and Final, Four Continents, Europeans, Junior Worlds and Worlds all offer ranking points for skaters depending on their finishes (the Junior events offer fewer points).
The top 24 in the WS are guaranteed at least one Grand Prix assignment. However, routinely, the top 12 from Worlds are included in this top 24, which means realistically, the assignments are handed out much further down the standings than 24 and top 24 generally means two assignments. As an example, last year Brendan Kerry (AUS) picked up one assignment in the initial round at WS40.
Factor 3: Season’s Best List (SB)
As with WS, top 24 on the SB list are guaranteed one assignment. And also as with WS, the top 12 from Worlds and the top 24 WS are usually covered in the top 24 for the SB list, so they often go quite a way down this list to fill in all of the slots. For example, Kerry was assigned to Skate America last season not just from his WS40, but his SB49, which incidentally was also high enough up the alternate list for him to pick up a second event later. This season Kerry is WS34 and SB29, which means he could well get two, as an example.
Factor 4: Host Picks
Each host country effectively gets a “free” pick in each discipline. Most feds will use this to either give an assignment to a skater who doesn’t otherwise have one, or to give a second to a skater who only has one. Some federations (the French Fed, for example) will put it back in the pool for others to fill.
The GP assignment meeting will this year be held on June 24-25th, which means we will probably know assignments late on the 25th or early on the 26th. This is late, to the grievance of many fans.
If you’re still confused, I don’t blame you - I still get my assignment rules muddled up every year (until recently, I didn’t realise that the Junior Worlds champions didn’t get one any more, for example). But I hope I cleared things up a little!