Two national online competitions to determine Australia's World Championship teams


Team Unity (AUS) beginning their Short Program at the 2020 NSW State Championships, the only in-person competition of the season. (Credits: Paul Carrolo - 2020)

Ice Skating Australia has announced that due to the current health restrictions limiting training opportunities and interstate travel in some states, the 2021 Australian Figure Skating Championships will be replaced by two online national competitions to determine which teams will be selected to represent Australia at the WJSSC and WSSC in 2022.

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Australia has experienced a third wave of COVID-19 cases due to the more transmissible delta variant. This has resulted in prolonged lockdowns in several states, however New South Wales and Victoria have been impacted the most. 

Teams training in Sydney have not been allowed on the ice since the end of May, missing out on 4 months of training and competitions. It is likely that these teams will be able to resume training in mid-October, with teams based in Melbourne returning to the ice a few weeks later as restrictions ease in line with rising vaccination rates. 

Covid uncertainty
In regular years, the synchro divisions of the Australian Figure Skating Championships are held on the final weekend in November. However, this would only give teams from Sydney and Melbourne 4-6 weeks of training time before the competition. Additionally, it is uncertain whether all teams from around Australia will be allowed to travel interstate by this time according to their state's restrictions. 

In light of this uncertainty and taking into account many other factors, Ice Skating Australia decided to implement a series of two online competitions instead, occurring slightly later in the season, in order to give all teams the best possible chance for success and ensure that all athletes remain safe and healthy.

Majestic Ice Australia - Basic Novice having their program filmed for the 2020 ISA Online National Competition (Credits: Benedict Jin - 2020)

The first online competition is the Australian Figure Skating Competition and will take place between late November and early January, with specific dates for recording being organised by state associations. This competition seems to be intended as a virtual replacement for the cancelled national championships, with all divisions across all disciplines invited to participate. While no national titles will be awarded, it is a benchmark event, so points will be considered when determining international and worlds nominations. 

The second online competition is the Synchronised Skating Selection Competition and will only be open to ISU Junior and Senior synchro teams. This competition will most likely take place from late January to early February and act as a second opportunity for teams to gain scores at a benchmark event. 

The Total Element Score (TES) is the combination of the Base Value and Grade of Execution scores for each element in a program, it does not include the Program Component scores. The Junior and Senior team with the highest combined Short Program and Free Program TES, which can be achieved at different benchmark competitions, will be selected to represent Australia at the 2022 World Championships. 

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Since teams across Australia have been affected by restrictions in so many different ways, it will make for a very interesting season. Anything could happen, so it's certainly one you won't want to miss!