One thing I can't understand sometimes in figure skating is how, after spending approximately two minutes of my day, I found the rule that explains the amount of points each skater will receive based on their final placement at the World Championships. In turn, this is the method used to determine how many spots will be available for the following World Championship, and this year-- the Sochi Olympics.
[Read the rule here, #378.2.b]
Javier Fernandez finished in the top 10 at the 2012 World Championships. Javier Raya finished in 24th place, making the final free skate and earning 16 points for his final placement. Combine Fernandez's 9 points and Raya's 16 points, and you have 25 points.
Here is the system briefly explained for those unfamiliar:
If a country has two OR three skaters/teams at a Championship, they need:
13 or less points from the top two finishers to retain three in the next season's Championship
28 points or less from the top two finishers to retain two in the next season's Championship
If a country has one skater/team at a Championship, they need:
2 points or less to earn three in the next season's Championship
10 points or less to earn two in the next season's Championship
Prior to this season, the point system worked out in the following way:
-A skater/team who does not make it out of the preliminary round would earn 20 points, regardless of placement.
-A skater/team who competes in the short program/dance but does not qualify for the free skate/dance would earn 18 points, regardless of placement.
-A skater/team who competes in the free skate/dance but does not finish in the top 16 earns 16 points, regardless of placement.
-All other skaters/teams earn the amount of points that coincide with their final placement (ie. 4th place gets 4 points, 9th place gets 9 points, and so on).
Going back to the Spain situation in 2012, the men earned two spots for the 2013 World Championships. Up until two weeks ago, Fernandez was the only man who had reached the newly-established technical minimum scores set by the ISU to determine eligibility for Worlds. Raya, however, was also able to earn the minimum scores at a last-minute international.
Then comes February 22. The official entry lists for the World Championship are published by the ISU, and Raya is not listed as an entry. Rather, he is listed as a substitute for Fernandez and is only permitted to compete if Fernandez is withdrawn by the Spanish Ice Sports Federation prior to the event.
Chatter around the Internet is that the federation chose not to enter Raya because of injuries he had being dealing with in the last few weeks, and they didn't want to hinder the chance at two spots for 2014 if Fernandez again disappointed (he came in expecting much higher than the 9th place he earned in 2012).
Here's the thing, though.
There is no more preliminary round at the World Championships. All skaters competing in the short program/dance but not qualifying to the free skate earn 18 points.
Let's do some quick math. Raya finishes last in the field of 34, or whatever it ends up being. He earns 18 points. Fernandez needs top 10 to retain two entries for 2014 in that case.
Fernandez is sent by himself. Where does he need to place?
Oh. That's right. Top 10.
In short, Raya's placement in this World Championship has absolutely no hinderance on earning two spots for 2014. Fernandez needs to be in the top 10 without him. And let's say Raya finishes in the top 24. Then Fernandez only needs to be in the top 12 based on the 16 points Raya would accumulate.
I'm sorry, Spanish Ice Sports Federation. You are idiots.