There have been a large number of threads this season complaining that this or that skater or team was or was not assigned to a particular Grand Prix event, and other threads complaining when a skater or team withdrew from competition, and was not replaced.

All of these, and more that I didn't find quickly:

http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...an-they-use-it

http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...x-Your-thought

http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...-on-GP-(again)

http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...aining-Setback

http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...light=shelepen

http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...ighlight=Mirai

Since many of us have been unsure about what the rules are, this thread will start with the rules. For the Grand Prix, they are found every year in the Grand Prix Announcement for the season, which is always stored in the current Grand Prix folder on www.isu.org.

Furthermore, they change every year. Last year, seeded skaters could skate three events if they chose. This year, they can't.
There is a great deal of flexibility in whom the organizing country can invite if a skater withdraws in a timely manner, but not if they don't. That is unlikely to change next year. Late travel expenses are very expensive and they are borne by the Host Country.

Here is the Announcement Document for this year:

http://isu.sportcentric.net/db//files/serve.php?id=3584

7.6 Replacements

It is mandatory that an Organizing Member replaces any skater/couple who withdraws from the event with an alternate up to fourteen (14) days prior to the Team Leaders’ meeting for that event. At the seven day mark, consideration will be given by the ISU Grand Prix Coordination Group to leaving a position vacant because of visa requirements or unduly high travel costs that would be incurred by the Organizing Member.

The alternate list will include the following skaters/couples:
· Split couples/Return Skaters-Couples who were previously in the top 7-12 of a World Championship would be listed according to their best possible Season’s Best with the previous partner.

· Skaters in proper order of top 24 Season’s Best would be next.

· All other Skaters in the top 75 Season’s Best would be listed next.

· Selected International Competitions’ winners are placed on the bottom of the alternate listing.

· A subgroup of any Come-Back-Skaters/Couples (as per paragraph 2.2), that may be chosen for a first or second event.

The alternate list needs to be worked through in ranking order for the top 24 ranked skaters/couples according to their Season’s Best. All skaters/couples of the alternate list will be grouped in top ranked groups of five (5) skaters, out of which the respective Organizing Member may pick one skater/couple for invitation.

Skaters/couples, who place first in the following international competitions
· U.S. Senior International 2012 – Salt Lake City (Pairs included in the competition)
· Nebelhorn Trophy 2012 (Pairs included in the competition)
· Ondrej Nepala Memorial 2012 (Pairs included in the competition)
· Finlandia Trophy 2012
· Cup of Nice 2012 (Pairs included in the competition)
and can prove to have skated the minimum total score as mentioned in paragraph 2.3, will be added to the alternate list, bottom ranked according to their scores.
Please note that the date and time that determines whether a spot must be filled is set by the time of the Team Leaders' Meeting, which is of course the time in the host country.

Note also that cost is an issue, both for withdrawing skaters, and for the host federations:

Again from the Announcement of the Grand Prix for this year:

Section 7.5

7.5. Expenses
The Organizing Member will pay travel expenses based on economy airfare rate for all Competitors invited to its ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating event, for all Judges invited, from their domicile to the event and return. The travel expenses of the Referees, Technical Controllers, Technical Specialists and the Data & Replay Operators are covered by the ISU.

Skaters/Judges, who wish to purchase their air tickets directly or made other individual travel arrangements must first have a confirmation from the Organizing Committee concerning the acceptance of the travel costs. For the Technical Panel, these should have the confirmation of the ISU before purchasing their tickets.

The Organizing Member will pay accommodation and meal expenses for all Competitors, Judges, Referees, Technical Specialists, Technical Controllers and Data & Replay Operators from dinner on the day preceding the first official practice through breakfast on the day after the Exhibition. This period may be extended due to individual flight arrangements.

If a skater/couple (seeded or non-seeded) does not finish an event, that skater/couple’s Member is obligated to cover the expenses for travel, accommodation and meals for the skater/couple and for the Judge (if applicable), if the Judge is not working in another panel.
So withdrawing from an event is a serious deal: if Japan, say, decides to fill a spot, they must pay all the competitor's hotel & food & travel expenses.

If a skater withdraws in the middle of a competition, their federation must pay the expenses.

Note that Invited Skaters are Invited by the host federation. There is no requirement that anybody be invited, other than the Seeded Skaters (skaters who finished in spots one through six at Worlds, or who moved up a spot due to the retirement of skaters who were in spots one through six). There is no requirement that Kaetlyn Osmond be given an event becausse she won a previous Grand Prix. There is no requirement that Misha Ge be given any event at all, since he is not in the top 24 season's best list from last season.

The slot must be filled if it opens up two weeks or more before the team leaders' meeting. Skaters wishing to be kind to some other skater by withdrawing need to withdraw earlier than two weeks before, then. Between 7 and 14 days, the slot might or might not be filled. Less than 7 days, and the spot will not be filled.

Since it is coming up, it's worth citing the Replacement policy for the Grand Prix final. It is determined entirely by the final standing of teams in their Grand Prix events, including a large number of tie breakers. There is no flexibility at all:

10. REPLACEMENTS (Grand Prix Final)
10.1 Replacement for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final
A qualified skater/couple for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final who is not able to participate will be replaced by the immediately following skater/couple, based on the Grand Prix ranking order of points.

The skaters/couples placed 7 – 9 of the Senior Grand Prix ranking order of points must remain on stand-by as possible alternates until three days before the Opening of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, i.e. until Monday, December 3, 2012 – noon local time Sochi, Russia. These skaters/couples are responsible for their own necessary visa or travel documents.

Replacements do not influence the invitation of Judges or the composition of the panel of Judges.

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2012/13
Page 15 of 16

10.2 Decision for Replacements
The ISU Coordinator of the ISU Grand Prix Coordination Group will make the final determination of any replacements for the Final in accordance with paragraph 10.1