No, I'm not talking about a haircut.
I'm talking about saving money. That's been the name of the game this season for the ISU. They've lost a good portion of their lucrative contract deals with the U.S. (oh the days of "mucho skating" on ABC/ESPN), a little bit from Canada and Europe too. They've downsized the judging panel at ISU Championships to 9 (which means only 5 judges scores are deciding events...no I will not let this go!) because it's cheaper to food and lodge 9 judges instead of 12. As the economy sours, so too does the ISU's budget...
So I have an idea that I think will save them a substantial amount of money and I think reap positive benefits for the sport of figure skating...stick with me here...
Every year (well...most years) I watch the Junior World's in slight horror as I look into the stands and see the other competitors, maybe mom and dad...a coach, and about 4 spectators watching. The stands are empty!
I thought to myself, how do you attract people to Junior World's? You can't drop the price much more...An All-Event Pass and a ticket to the Exhibition...all of 35 Euro's. That's about $45.00 U.S., $57.00 Canadian, £31.00 British, basically damn cheap for an ISU Championship! I racked my brain on this all last night. The answer hit me this morning!
Actually, the ISU tried this already this season and it worked brilliantly. Rewind to the Grand Prix Final...the ISU hosted both the Junior and Senior skaters in Goyang City, Korea and pulled off an amazing combined event.
Why not do the same for Junior and Senior Worlds?
Keep the All-vent Pass for Juniors only fairly cheap...also still offer just an All-Event Pass for just Seniors...but, also do an All-Event Pass for both that is about $50.00 more and bam...instantly they'll sell more tickets! I'm also not suggesting you're gonna sell out the Junior event...that's just not likely. But you can generate a little more buzz for it while absorbing some of the costs into the Senior event. Sure they'll have to run a tight schedule, but it can be done. You can get the Juniors started on Sunday and have a fun filled week of skating.
I know what you're saying now...don't a lot of the competitors that skate at Junior World's also compete at Senior World's? The answer is yes. By combining the two events, I think the ISU would have to make a rule stating you can't compete at both. That move, however, would help create depth of talent within skating federations. If a country couldn't count on skater x to compete at all their competitions, they'd have to develop a team to compete on the various levels. The bigger the team, the greater the competition, the greater the competition, the better the talent of skating. See Exhibit A...Japan!
Another cost cutting measure. In addition to holding a big 'ole World Championships...why not hold the annual congress (you know...when they make all those rule changes to make skating harder to understand!) at the same time rather than some week in June. You'll already have the who's who of figure skating in town...take care of business already!
The nice part is that all this doesn't have to be permanent. Should (When!) the sport become hugely popular again...they can split the events again...but for now, this seems like a resonable approach. I really wonder how much money I just saved there? Global recessions call for fiscal responsibility!
Okay, I know this will fuel some discussion and thoughts...anyone?