You're probably thinking, OMG another team event! We've had World Team Trophy, which has been the standard for figure skating team events for the past decade, and the Team Event at the Olympics, which debuted in 2014 and was similar in format. Both were basically individually-skated, team-scored competitions with lots of intra-team cheering. And both were scored based on standings rather than points, so the relative points earned didn't matter, only the rankings did.
Here comes Team Challenge Cup, which takes place this Friday and Saturday, with another team format but shaking things up a bit. For many, it's a chance to see their favorites skate one more time before the season ends. For the athletes, it's a chance to have a little fun in a competitive environment and earn a little equipment and coaching prize money for the off-season.
Official hashtag: #TeamChallengeCup
Team Short Program
1. Team Asia
2. Team North America
3. Team Europe
You might want to take a look at how the competition works first because it'll answer a lot of questions. To be honest, any of the three teams can win the short program, and the head-to-head-to-head match-ups will be most crucial to who wins. Looking at the teams, Europe and North America have the strongest ladies lineups, Asia has the strongest men's lineup.
Team Challenge Cup (Free Skates)
1. Team North America
2. Team Europe
3. Team Asia
First thing to note is that the short program scores DO NOT carry over to the free skate, so the free skates is essentially a completely different competition. With the addition of dance and pairs, Asia has a severe disadvantage. Even dropping one of the two scores in pairs and in dance, the advantage for Europe and North America is so huge that the singles free skates for Team Asia will be moot.
Between North America and Europe, after dropping the lowest score in each discipline, ice dance will likely be a virtual tie, pairs will be a slight advantage for North America, and ladies could very well be a very close call as well. So it basically comes down to the men - and it really basically comes down to what condition Jason Brown is in. Brown hasn't competed since the fall, and if he delivers a strong free skate, it's Team North America's Team Challenge Cup to win. So much Team!
But how does this thing work??
For clarity's sake, let's take a look at the actual format of the event, because if you haven't looked at the rules, you will likely be supremely confused. Here's how Team Challenge Cup works. First thing to note is that Day 1 and Day 2 are basically two different competitions with two different final standings.
Note: This explanation is based on TCC's announcement from February.
Team Short Program Competition (Day 1) - Men and ladies only
- Competition happens in 3 warmup groups of 3 men and 3 women each (mixed groups!!!)
- Each team assigns one man and one woman, without duplicates, to each warmup group (e.g., North America, Europe, and Asia will all have one man and one woman in each group)
- Points are awarded within each warmup group in head-to-head-to-head matchups
- Group 1 Men: 12 points for 1st place, 10 points for 2nd place, 8 points for 3rd place
- Group 1 Ladies: 12 points for 1st place, 10 points for 2nd place, 8 points for 3rd place
- Group 2 Men: 12 points for 1st place, 10 points for 2nd place, 8 points for 3rd place
- Group 2 Ladies: 12 points for 1st place, 10 points for 2nd place, 8 points for 3rd place
- Group 3 Men: 12 points for 1st place, 10 points for 2nd place, 8 points for 3rd place
- Group 3 Ladies: 12 points for 1st place, 10 points for 2nd place, 8 points for 3rd place
- Each team can earn a minimum of 48 points and a maximum of 72 points
- Teams will decide whom to assign in which group without knowing what the other teams did, so this element of chance could make things very interesting
- The total points earned by the three teams will determine the Team Short Program Winners - these points will NOT carry over to Day 2
- 1st tiebreak is the aggregate score of the top men's SP and top ladies' SP
- 2nd tiebreak is the aggregate score of the 2nd men's SP and 2nd ladies' SP
Team Challenge Cup (Day 2) - Men, ladies, pairs, dance
- Cuz it's not confusing enough, the actual thing called the Team Challenge Cup happens on Day 2, where the entire team of men, ladies, pairs, and dance teams all compete
- Unlike the first day, the second day is all about point totals (!!!)
- Pairs and dance compete in the afternoon and skate a free program, and the top scoring pair and dance for each team will be counted toward the total score (the other scores are dropped)
- The men and ladies skate their free skates in the evening, and the top 2 men and top 2 ladies on each team will count toward the total score (the other scores are dropped)
- Warmup groups will again be mixed, with the final group featuring the top skaters in the SP from each team