The country hosting the Winter Olympics automatically is eligible to send at least one entry per event, but not all countries are eligible to send even one skater to the Olympic Games.Only the skaters of the highest caliber will qualify for the Olympics.
The World Figure Skating Championships which takes place a year before an Olympic Games, is where each country earns a certain amount of Olympic spots.
- Countries that had two or three skaters compete in ladies singles at "Worlds," earn three spots to the Olympics in ladies singles if the total sum of the previous year's placements at the world championships is less than 13.
- If the top two placements' sums are between 14 to 28 for a country, two Olympic spots are earned.
- When the country has only one competitor at the World Figure Skating Championships, but that competitor finishes in either first place or second place, then that country earns three Olympic spots.
- When only one competitor competed for a country at the previous world championships, and if the skater placed in the top ten, then that country earned two Olympic spots.
- The Nebelhorn Trophy, an international figure skating competition which takes place in Oberstdorf, Germany in late September about four months before the Winter Olympics takes place, is the final event where remaining Olympic spots are allocated to countries who had not qualified for Olympic spots at the previous year's World Figure Skating Championships.
Once each country is allocated Olympic spots, each country's national figure skating governing body sets the guidelines for how its particular figure skaters qualify for the Winter Olympics.
Some countries will not send figure skaters to the Olympics unless they prove in advance that they have a chance of doing well, or prove first that can at least place in the top half at the Winter Olympics Games. Canada and other countries look at skaters' past placements in international competitive events.
In the United States, those who represent the USA in the Olympics are usually the skaters who are the winners and also the silver and/or bronze medalists in the championship events at the United States National Figure Skating Championships which takes place during that particular Olympic year.
The US National Figure Skating Championships, in a sense, serves as the official USA Olympic qualifying event or Olympic tryout. Those who will represent the United States at the Olympics will not know if they will qualify until just a few weeks before.