The age limit was in play in 1998 but there was a loophole: If you won a medal at World Juniors you could go to Worlds. That's how Plushenko and Sarah Hughes earned tickets despite being under the limit.
I hope Patrick doesn't retire, we don't have anyone in Canada to fill his void at this point. Weaver/Poje can take Virtue/Moir's place. What about Duhamel/Radford?