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    Pj Kwong

    About Pj Kwong

    With more than 25 years of coaching experience, Pj Kwong is one of Canada's best known figure skating experts. She has worked with CBC Sports as a commentator and analyst since 2007.

Figure Skating

Pj Kwong - Wednesday Dec. 11, 2013 14:55

How figure skating's new Team Event will work

10 nations to compete in debut competition


Canada enters the figure skating team event at the Winter Olympics with 6,053 points — more than any other country. (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, the International Skating Union announced the top 10 qualifying nations that will be invited to compete in the inaugural Olympic figure skating Team Event in Sochi.

Canada has qualified as the highest ranking nation, having accumulated the most points over the course of competitions last season like Worlds and Grand Prix Final.

It takes a bit of getting used to, this notion of a team event in figure skating. Having wrapped my brain around it, I like the idea of being able to award an Olympic title to the strongest figure skating nation in addition to individual skaters.

We won’t know the names of the athletes who could be competing as part of the team event for another month, although we already know how the competition will work.

Every nation will have one entry in each of the four disciplines who will skate a short and a free program. Each team has the option of two substitutions between the short and the free portions of the competition — only if they have qualified two or more entries.

All 10 nations will have skaters take the ice for the short program but only the top five will continue on to skate the free.

In Canada’s case, there are three entries in each of the men, ice dance and pair events, and two for the women. Skate Canada will announce which skaters will skate the short program no later than 10 a.m. the day before their discipline’s event.

Presuming Canadian skaters end up in the top five after the short, Skate Canada will announce within 10 minutes who will skate the free.

For nations with two or more entries in a discipline, they can elect to use up to two substitutions heading into the free. For example, Russia has qualified only one man for the Olympics, so he’ll have to skate both the short and the free. Canada, on the other hand, has three men so it is possible for Skater A to skate the short and Skater B to skate the free.

The skaters must all have qualified for and will be competing in the individual Olympic figure skating events.

There are a couple of exceptions: Japan and Great Britain, which will have to invoke the “additional athlete” rule and use non-Olympic qualified athletes to round out their teams. In each case, these nations have qualified athletes in three of four disciplines but need to use a non-qualified entry to allow them to compete in the fourth.

The winner is the team with the most points across all four disciplines.

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