Interesting news from Fanhouse...apparently ISU Chief Ottavio Cinquanta wants to bring back the qualifying round for the World Championships. Apparently Speedy didn't like sitting through 8 hours of ladies short programs. He made his intent to revert back to the qualifying system at the June Congress in Barcelona known during his State of the Sport address in L.A. last week.
In the old system, in singles, you had to qualify to World's based on your country's performance in international competition. All the competitors would perform their free skates. The top 30 would advance to the short program. The final top 24 would perform their free skate.
In the current system, every member nation gets to send at least one skater to World's. All skaters perform their short programs with the top 24 making it to the free skate.
I must tell you I think the current system is much improved than the qualifying system. First I love that competitors from Brazil, and India, and Chinese Taipei, and Australia, and South Africa, and Mexico, and Croatia, and I could go on and on and on, get to compete. It's nice to see different styles from all around the world. It's also nice that those competitors that wouldn't otherwise get a platform to display their talents get to do so! Kevin Alves of Brazil didn't make it to the free skate, but he entertained the audience with his infectious footwork. Gracielle Jeanne Tan of the Phillipines didn't make the free skate, but she delivered a performance that was beautiful and garnered the first rousing ovation of the ladies short program. And what about a skater like Anna Jurkiewicz of Poland, who probably wouldn't have qualified for World's under the qualifying system...she not only made the free skate, but skated well and finished 19th with a solid skate! Think about these people...
Second, how does adding a whole section of competition make things shorter? Instead of having 6 1/2 hours of ladies short programs (not the 8 Speedy eluded to) you get 6 hours of ladies free skates + 3 1/2 hours of ladies shorts...who does that make for time saved?
By the time these competitors get to worlds, they've been through the ringer. Jr. Grand Prix Events, Senior Grand Prix Events, Grand Prix Finals, National Championships, Europeans, Four Continents, Jr. World's...and we want them to skate an extra skate at Worlds? Are we really concerned about athletes, injury, exhaustion or is Speedy just wanting the competition to move a little quicker for his convenience (Ottavio Cincquanta nickname is Speedy)?
Speedy talked of many of the ladies in the short program not really having the skills to compete with the world's best. So I'd go a step further...each nation that sends a skater to Worlds earns at least one Grand Prix Placement. Of course the higher placing nations will still get to send more skaters but how nice it would be if the beautiful young lady who represented India, Yoniko Eva Washington, was able to compete at Skate America, or NHK Trophy. That might spur those skaters to be more aggressive in their training as more opportunities were available to them.
In the end, I'm going to ask the ISU to veto Speedy's call to reinstate the qualifying round. In fact, I'm willing to get on my knees and beg!