Change In 2013:
Until 2012, Junior Nationals was held early in the competition season, usually just before the December holidays. In 2013, the event was combined with "Big Nationals" and is held just after the US National Figure Skating Championships in the practice arena that is near the official national competition arena.
Junior Nationals Is NOT Quite Nationals:The United States National Figure Skating Championships is a yearly figure skating competition. The competition is called "Nationals" by the ice skating community. "Nationals" is considered the most prestigious event of the U.S. competitive figure skating season.
Sometimes the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships is called "Big Nationals" because lower level Juvenile and Intermediate skaters who qualify compete at a separate event.
Who Participates In Nationals and/or Junior Nationals?:
Skaters participating in Junior Nationals must be under the age of eighteen. Competitors must also pass certain US figure skating tests before being eligible to compete.
"Big Nationals" holds Novice, Junior, and Senior level events. "Junior Nationals" holds Intermediate and Juvenile level events.
How To Qualify:
Competitors that qualify for Junior Nationals must first compete in qualifying events at the regional level for singles and at the sectional level for pairs and ice dancing.
To qualify for Junior Nationals in singles, skaters must place in the top four at regionals. The top four regional finishers then advance to sectionals and must then place in the top four at the sectional event in order to qualify for nationals. To qualify for Junior nationals in ice dance or pairs, competitors must place in the top four at a sectional event.
No More Fill-Up Rule:Until 2012, the top eight skaters from each section in ice dance and pairs "made" junior nationals. Since there were sometimes less than eight couples competing, a "fill-up" rule existed. For example, if there were only two pair teams in intermediate pairs in the Pacific Coast section, but nine intermediate pairs in the Midwestern section, and only three intermediate pair teams from the Eastern section, all pair teams in the United States qualified for Junior Nationals.
Under the guidelines set for 2013 and beyond, only four pair and dance teams from each section will qualify for Nationals.
Are Junior National Competitors Considered National Competitors?:Before 2013, Junior National competitors were not quite considered or treated with the same prestige as the competitors that "made Big Nationals." For example, Junior National medalists are not awarded Radix pins, which are awards given to all novice, junior, and senior US National medalists.
The Junior National event did not get the media attention either. Although an official hotel was chosen for the event, many times, there was no complimentary transportation from the hotel to the competition venue. Security was minimal at Junior Nationals.
After 2013, juvenile and intermediate skaters who qualify for the "National Championship for Juvenile and Intermediate Figure Skaters" are awarded credentials that admit them to all events and practices at the "big" US National Figure Skating Championships. One parent receives a chaperone credential. A skater's coach is also credentialed.
Can Junior National Competitors Mix With Figure Skating Celebrities At Nationals?:The credentials competitors receive for the "National Championship for Juvenile and Intermediate Athletes" (a.k.a "Junior Nationals") gives them access to the competition arena and to the competitors' seating area, but does not provide access to the back stage areas or to the ice. Those areas are restricted to the "Big National" competitors.
What is sometimes confusing is that Junior level figure skating events are held at "Big Nationals" and at "Junior Worlds" and at the Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating. Those events are NOT Junior Nationals, but have confused ice skating fans, parents, and skaters. The National Championship for Juvenile and Intermediate Athletes title may eliminate the confusion in terms.