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Olympic judges draw held during Nebelhorn Trophy

U.S. draws judges in all four disciplines; Oberstdorf winners, losers
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It was a triumphant week in Oberstdorf for Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim, who earned a pairs spot for North Korea at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. -Getty Images

On Saturday evening, two hours after the end of the ladies competition at the Nebelhorn Trophy, skaters took to the ice for a gala exhibition. But most ISU officials, skating federation presidents and judges weren't watching.

Instead, those figure skating VIPs were gathered in the event's press conference room, where ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik and former ISU event manager Peter Krick conducted the judges draw for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Countries that qualified entrants in the four disciplines, based on finishes at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships and Nebelhorn, were entered into the draw. Thirteen countries were drawn for each of the four individual figure skating events. Only countries with at least one ISU-qualified judge who has officiated at a minimum of two ISU championships are eligible for the draw.

The panels were drawn as follows:

Ladies: Russia, Canada, United States, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, China, Belgium, Slovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia 

Men: Japan, China, Spain, Canada, United States, Russia, Israel, Uzbekistan, Latvia, Australia, Kazakhstan, France, Czech Republic   

Pairs: China, Germany, Russia, Canada, France, Italy, United States, Australia, Austria, Israel, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary (The latter two countries will not have pairs entered in PyeongChang but were drawn to fill out the 13-judge allotment.)

Ice dance: Canada, France, United States, Russia, Italy, Israel, Poland, Ukraine, China, Turkey, Spain, Slovak Republic, Japan

Team event judges: Canada, China go 4-for-4

For each of the four disciplines in the Olympic team event, nine countries were drawn. A country does not have to compete in the team event to have a judge seated on the panel, but only judges nominated for at least one individual event can judge the team event.

Both Canada and China drew judges on all four panels. The United States will seat judges on the men's and ice dance panels, while Russia has a judge on the ladies panel only.

Ladies team event: Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Russia

Men's team event: Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, United States

Pairs team event: Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel

Ice dance team event: Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Slovak Republic, Spain, United States, Turkey, Ukraine

Nebelhorn scorecard

With the final Olympic spots decided, here's a quick look at the countries that fared well -- and not so well -- in Oberstdorf:

Winners

North Korea: Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim, 15th at the 2017 World Championships, ranked sixth overall at Nebelhorn and fourth among countries seeking a pairs spot. The friendly skaters, accompanied by their coach and a team leader who also served as interpreter, were followed by a sizeable media contingent in Oberstdorf, including crews from CNN and NBC and reporters from large outlets like The New York Times. Interest was so intense that a special press conference was held, during which only figure skating -- not politics -- could be discussed. The skaters stressed they did not yet know whether they would be sent to PyeongChang, but IOC officials have said that, in the interests of peace and diplomacy, they are hopeful North Korea will participate.

Malaysia: Five-time Malaysian champion Julian Yee Zhi-Jie, 22nd in the world last season, qualified his country's first-ever Olympic figure skating entry and will be part of Malaysia's first-ever group of athletes at the Winter Games. The 20-year-old skater, who won gold at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, was a hit with the crowd and was invited to perform in the Nebelhorn gala.

Israel: Paige Conners only took up pairs after the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, but she and her experienced partner, Evgeni Krasnopolski, made quick progress at a series of summer competitions and placed eighth overall at Nebelhorn, fourth among teams seeking to qualify. Israel also qualified two men and an ice dance team for PyeongChang.

Switzerland: In Sochi, Switzerland -- a founding member of the ISU -- had no figure skating entrant. For PyeongChang, New Yorker Alexia Paganini, the 2016 U.S. novice silver medalist, placed third at Nebelhorn and gained a ladies spot. Paganini's father is Swiss, and she holds dual citizenship. The skater, who trains in Hackensack, New Jersey, under Igor Krokavec, still must compete well this fall for the Swiss Olympic Committee, known for its strict standards, to nominate her for the Olympics.

Republic of Korea: Former U.S. competitor Alexander Gamelin was granted South Korean citizenship in July after passing language and history tests. He and partner Yura Min made a strong showing in Oberstdorf, placing fourth.

Brazil: Isadora Williams, who trains in the Floyd Hall Arena in Montclair, New Jersey, under Kristen Fraser and Igor Lukanin, set new personal bests to qualify for her second Olympics.

Split decisions

Great Britain: Ice dancers Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland, seventh in the world in 2016, missed all of last season after Coomes suffered a serious knee injury in practice in June 2016. Accompanied by coach Igor Shpilband and choreographer Christopher Dean, they made a strong return at Nebelhorn, setting a new personal-best score and winning gold by nearly 18 points. However, Britain did not earn spots in the other three disciplines.

Slovakia: Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen, who train in Montreal, were 13th at worlds and won an Olympic ice dance spot for Denmark. But Fournier Beaudry is Canadian and cannot meet Denmark's strict citizenship requirements -- which state she must live in the country for at least 10 years -- in time for PyeongChang. Therefore, Denmark returned its spot, and Slovak couple Lucie Myslivečková and Lukáš Csölley, sixth at Nebelhorn, qualified for the Olympics.

Czech Republic: Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès gained two Olympic pairs spots for France at the 2017 World Championships, but Andrei Novoselov, who with Lola Esbrat comprises France's second-ranked pair, is Russian and will not gain French citizenship in time for PyeongChang. Therefore, France returned its second pairs spot, and 2016 world junior champions Anna Dušková and Martin Bidař of the Czech Republic, who were ninth in Oberstdorf, qualified instead.

Disappointments

Phillipines: In 2013, Michael Christian Martinez came in seventh at Nebelhorn and was the only athlete representing his country in Sochi. This year, his eighth-place finish only qualified him as first alternate.

Klaus-Reinhold Kany contributed to this article.