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U.S. Figure Skating Championships qualifying series goes virtual

U.S. Figure Skating Championships

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 26: Nathen Chen skates in the Men’s Free Skate during the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Greensboro Coliseum on January 26, 2020 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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The U.S. Figure Skating Championship Series -- the qualifiers for nationals in January -- has been changed from in-person to virtual competition, “due to the recent surge of COVID-19,” according to U.S. Figure Skating.

The eight events were spread across the country over the next month, to start next week.

A virtual format was previously held for U.S. Figure Skating’s International Selection Pool Points Challenge in September and October, which was added to give skaters more opportunities to compete amid the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters filmed and uploaded their programs from their home rinks to be judged.

The top five skaters and teams per discipline at last season’s nationals are automatically qualified for this season’s championships in San Jose, Calif., in January. They do not have to compete in qualifying.

The top four skaters and teams per discipline from the points challenge, who were not already qualified for nationals, also earned places in San Jose.

The most notable skater who is not yet qualified for nationals is Gracie Gold, the 2014 and 2016 U.S. champion who is on the comeback trail. Gold qualified for last season’s nationals, where she placed 12th. She was 14th overall in the points challenge and 12th of 12 skaters at Skate America last month.

Gold said after Skate America that she planned to participate in qualifying for nationals. She must place in the top three in her section, among skaters not already qualified for nationals, or be among the next six best overall to advance.

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