The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2012 will open in Nice, France, on March 26. Nice hosted the ISU World Figure Skating Championships once before in 2000.

219 skaters/couples, a new record number, from 55 ISU members have been entered for the Preliminary Rounds and Championships. The entry quota system which comprises two types of entries (Direct entries and Preliminary Round entries) will be used. Skaters from countries with competitors that placed in the top 18 for Singles, top 12 in Pairs and top 15 in Ice Dance in the 2011 Championships are entered directly in the Short Program or Short Dance, i.e. the first segment of the competition. Member countries that are unable to fill their quota through Direct entries may enter the remainder of their competitors in the Preliminary Round.

The Preliminary Round takes place before the official competition starts. The top 12 Men and 12 Ladies, the top 8 Pairs teams and the top 10 Ice Dance couples are then qualified to compete in the Short Program/Short Dance with the skaters entered through the Direct entries. In total 30 Men and Ladies (18 Direct entries and 12 Preliminary Round entries), and 25 Ice Dance couples (15 Direct entries and 10 Preliminary Round entries) compete in the first segment. Competitors placed in the top 24 in Single Skating/the top 16 Pair Skating couples, the top 16 Pairs and the top 20 Ice Dance couples in the Short Program/Short Dance qualify for Free Skating/Free Dance.

Overview over the top contenders

Three of the four reigning World Champions are back and eager to defend their titles.

2011 World Champion Patrick Chan (CAN) has won the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and the ISU Four Continents Championships this season. He comes to France with a seasons best of 273.94 points. 2010 World Champion Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) was the runner up to Chan in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and at the Four Continent Championships and is aiming for the top of the podium in Nice (seasons best 259.75 points). The field is deep and there are several  more men challenging for the podium. Reigning World silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) is looking to improve on his results from the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. ISU Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Javier Fernandez (ESP) wants to make history in the sport once again by claiming Spain's first ISU Championships medal. Defending World bronze medalist and 2012 European silver medalist Artur Gachinski (RUS) hopes to return to the podium. Multiple World medalist Brian Joubert (FRA) and 2011 European Champion Florent Amodio (FRA) are counting on their home advantage. Others to watch include 2011 Four Continents silver medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN), U.S. Champion Jeremy Abbott, Adam Rippon (USA), Tomas Verner (CZE) and Michal Brezina (CZE).

In the Ladies' event, the attention focuses on two-time World Champion Mao Asada (JPN) and four-time European Champion Carolina Kostner. Kostner, the reigning World bronze medalist, posted a seasons best of 187.48 points at the Grand Prix Final. Asada took silver at the ISU Four Continents Championships last month and is keen on returning to the podium after missing it last year (seasons best 188.62 points). Ashley Wagner (USA) has established herself as a new top contender since winning the Four Continents Championships with a seasons best score of 192.41 points. Akiko Suzuki (JPN), Alissa Czsiny (USA), Alena Leonova (RUS) are aiming at the podium as well.

Three-time and reigning World Pairs Champions Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) have to expect a stiff challenge from 2011 World silver medalists Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS). The Germans won the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final with a seasons best of 212.26 points, beating the Russians narrowly by 0.18 points. The Russians struck gold at the 2012 European Championships whereas Savchenko/Szolkowy withdrew due to injury. Entering the mix are two-time World Champions Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN) who are competing in their first international event this season. Two-time World bronze medalists Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS), European silver medalists Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (RUS) and 2012 Four Continents Champions Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) are challenging for a medal as well. The event also features Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN), Caydee Denney/John Coughlin (USA), Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran (JPN) and Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA).

In the Ice Dance event, the duel between Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir and reigning World Champions Meryl Davis/ Charlie White (USA) continues. Virtue/Moir won the Four Continents Championships (seasons best 183.34) and beat the Americans, but at the ISU Grand Prix Final Davis/White (seasons best 188.55 points) kept the upper hand. Two-time European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA) are aiming at their first Worlds medal in front of their home crowd although Pechalat broke her nose in a practice accident last week (seasons best 169.69 points). 2012 World bronze medalists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA), 2012 Four Continents bronze medalists Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) and European silver medalists Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) are in medal contention as well. Other couples to watch are 2012 European bronze medalists Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) and Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA). 

Prize Money

The ISU awards a global prize money of US$ 710,000 at the World Championships to skaters/couples placed 1st to 12th. The prize money is awarded to winners and placed skaters/couples as follows:

Men and Ladies                                     Pairs and Dance (per couple)

1st place US$ 45,000                           1st place US$ 67,500

2nd place US$ 27,000                          2nd place US$ 40,500

3rd place US$ 18,000                           3rd place US$ 27,000

4th place US$ 13,000                           4th place US$ 19,500

5th place US$ 10,000                           5th place US$ 15,000

6th place US$ 7,000                             6th place US$ 10,500

7th place US$ 6,000                             7th place US$ 9,000

8th place US$ 5,000                             8th place US$ 7,500

9th place US$ 3,500                             9th place US$ 5,250

10th place US$ 3,000                           10th place US$ 4,500

11th place US$ 2,500                           11th place US$ 3,750

12th place US$ 2,000                           12th place US$ 3,000

The schedule of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2012 is as follows:

Monday, March 26: Pairs and Ice Dance Preliminary Rounds

Tuesday, March 27: Ladies and Men Preliminary Rounds

Wednesday, March 28: Pairs Short Program, Short Dance

Thursday, March 29: Ladies Short Program, Free Dance

Friday, March 30:  Men's Short and Pairs Free Skating

Saturday, March 31: Men and Ladies Free Skating,

Sunday, April 1: Exhibition Gala

For more information, full entry lists and results please see: and