We are halfway through the 2017 World Championships right now, and there's been tons of amazing skating here, most recently last night in probably the strongest pairs free skate group we've ever seen in the history of skating. You can listen to my thoughts over on icenetwork's Facebook page, with my daily Facebook Live segments archived there. But I wanted to document some clarifications on the technicalities that puzzled more than a couple of fans yesterday.
Why did Hanyu get the score that he got?
There are two parts to this answer. When Hanyu finished his short program, I had thought that he would have been in the low 100s for that program. The mistake that he had was on his combo, where he put his foot down after the quad salchow and tacked on a double toe. Had it counted as a combo, his score would have been more around 100-101, but because he put his foot down after landing the jump before the double toe, it does not count as a combination, and so the double toe was invalidated. Note that a two-footed jump counts, but a foot down after the landing does not.
The second issue was his one-point deduction, which was a late start. The rule allows you 30 seconds from the time your name is called to the time you take your start position, after which you get a mandatory one-point deduction. Hanyu took about 33 second to get to his start position, thus the one-point deduction on his score. The confusion among some fans came because the previous rule was 30 seconds unless you were the first skater after the warmup, in which case, you would get one minute. The rule changed to 30 seconds this season, partially as an attempt by the ISU to keep the competitions running as efficiently as possible.
Did the US pairs get one spot or two?
The short of it is, Team USA got one pairs spot in PyeongChang. But I'll preface that with the fact that nothing has been confirmed or official, and will not be until the competition is over. There are a couple of steps to this.
First, in order for the US to even be eligible for two spots, they had to have placement points of 28 or lower. With Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier not qualifying for the free skate, the US started with 18 points from them going into the free skate. And that meant that Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim had to finish in the top 10 in order for the two spots to be possible. Knierim/Knierim finished 10th and incredibly close to the other teams right above them (they were under four points from fifth place).
But the wrinkle comes in the maximum 16 spots that qualify to the Olympics out of the World Championships. Because the total number of spots earned by countries yesterday added to 17, the country that was the very last to qualify, in this case, the US, would only get one spot.
So the rule is set, though, very much in speculation, there is potentially at least one way that things may pan out for the US to get two spots.
One of the countries may not use all of their spots - though the only one that comes to mind is France, which earned two spots and currently has three active pairs (two of which - I believe - have a partner who does not yet have citizenship). Should France decide to relinquish one spot, the rules note that this spot goes to the Nebelhorn Trophy for another country to earn. That said, the rules do not account for the scenario where a country doesn't earn a spot due to the maximum. This may require a clarification.