The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (ISU Champions Series from 1995 to 1997) is a series of senior international figure skating competitions organized by the International Skating Union. The invitational series was inaugurated in 1995, incorporating several previously existing events. Medals are awarded in the disciplines of men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dancing. The junior-level equivalent is the ISU Junior Grand Prix.
Currently, the sanctioned competitions for the Grand Prix are: Skate America. First held in 1979 as Norton Skate, the event has been part of the series since 1995 and its location changes yearly.
Skate Canada International. First held in 1973, the event has been part of the series since 1995 and its location changes yearly.
Cup of China. It was created in 2003 and joined the Grand Prix series in the same year, replacing the German event. It has been held in Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin, and Nanjing.
Trophée de France (1994–95, 2016). It was previously titled: Grand Prix International de Paris (1987–93), Trophée Lalique (1996–2003), and Trophée Éric Bompard (2004–15). First held in 1987, the event has been part of the series since 1995. It is almost always held in Paris — the five exceptions were 1991 (Albertville), 1994 (Lyon), 1995, 2014, and 2015 (Bordeaux).
Rostelecom Cup (Cup of Russia from 1996 to 2008). The Prize of Moscow News (1966–1990) having disappeared with the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Cup of Russia was established in 1996 and joined the series in the same year, adopting the name Rostelecom Cup in 2009. It is generally held in Moscow and, less frequently, in Saint Petersburg. On July 19, 2016, the IOC urged the ISU to "freeze their preparations for major events in Russia," and plans were announced to move the Cup of Russia to another nation.
NHK Trophy. First held in 1979, the event has been part of the series since 1995. The location changes yearly — it has been held in Tokyo, Sapporo, Kobe, Kushiro, Asahikawa, Hiroshima, Chiba, Morioka, Nagoya, Osaka, Nagano, Kumamoto, Kyoto, and Sendai.
Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final (Champions Series Final from 1995 to 1997). Created in 1995 to serve as the concluding event, it features the top six qualifiers in each discipline from the six earlier competitions. The event adopted its current name in the 1998–99 season. Its location changes yearly.
Bofrost Cup on Ice (Earlier names: Fujifilm Trophy from 1986 to 1987, Nations Cup from 1995 to 1997, Sparkassen Cup on Ice from 1998 to 2001). First held in 1986, the event was part of the series from 1995 to 2002. Generally held in Gelsenkirchen, the event adopted the name Bofrost Cup on Ice in 2002.
Fall international competitions such as Skate America, organized by the skating federations of their host countries, had been held for many years prior to their organization into a series as separate individual events . Following the Nancy Kerrigan attack in 1994, television coverage of skating was saturated with made-for-TV professional skating events, while the traditional "amateur" or "eligible" competitions were neglected. In order to remedy this situation, in 1995, the skating federations from the United States, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan began to plan their events as a series with cooperative marketing of the television rights in those countries, and with prize money funded by the sale of those rights. At this point, the International Skating Union stepped in and asserted its ownership of the international television rights to the series.
When it was first created in the 1995–1996 skating season, the series was known as the ISU Champions Series. It did not become known as the Grand Prix of Figure Skating until the 1998–1999 season, when the ISU gained the rights to use that name.
It was originally composed of five events, held in the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, and France. Following the demise of the Prize of Moscow News, last held in 1990, the Russian federation created the Cup of Russia, which increased the number of events to six in 1996, the series' second year. In the fall of 2003, the event in Germany, the Bofrost Cup on Ice, was discontinued, and was replaced with one in China, due to the ISU having negotiated a more favorable television contract in that country.
In 1997, the ISU also created a similar series of developmental events for junior age-eligible skaters. Initially known as the ISU Junior Series, these events are now named the ISU Junior Grand Prix. This season begins before the senior-level one does.
Skaters are entered in the individual events either by being seeded or by invitation. The seeding of top skaters at Grand Prix events basically takes into account their placement from the previous World Championships, as well as their ISU international ranking. Skaters who are not seeded can be invited by the hosting country and each country can invite up to three of their own skaters for each discipline. This is to give a balanced field throughout the series, as well as allowing the hosting country a chance to showcase their top competitors.
The Grand Prix of Figure Skating uses a points-based system based on results from the selected international events. The top qualifying skaters from each discipline are eligible to compete in the Grand Prix Figure Skating Final. The entry, seeding, and qualification rules for the individual events have varied from year to year, and also between the different disciplines. Typically, seeded skaters can be entered in either two or three events (the third being designated a non-scoring event), while other skaters may be entered in either one or two events.
Starting with the 2003-04 season, the Interim Judging System was introduced for scoring events in the Grand Prix. This later developed into the ISU Judging System, often called the Code of Points (CoP), of figure skating, replacing the previous 6.0 system.
Over the years, the ISU has experimented with different formats for the Grand Prix Final competition. In some years, skaters were required to prepare three different programs rather than the normal two, with the third program being used for a skate-off between the top two finishers in each discipline after the initial rounds. This is no longer the case.
To be eligible for the senior Grand Prix series, skaters are required to have turned 14 by the preceding July 1 (e.g. July 1, 2009 for the 2009-10 series). A skater must meet the age requirement before it turns July 1 in their place of birth. For example, Adelina Sotnikova was born a few hours into July 1, 1996, in Moscow and consequently, was not eligible to compete until the 2011-12 season.
In 2011, minimum score requirements were added to the senior Grand Prix series and set at two-thirds of the top scores at the 2011 World Championships. Prior to competing in a senior Grand Prix event, skaters must earn the following:
The International Skating Union decided that the minimums do not apply to "host picks", i.e. Canadians Adriana DeSanctis and Elladj Baldé were allowed to compete at their home country's event, 2011 Skate Canada, despite failing to reach the minimums at the 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy.