I get really irked when skaters withdraw from the Grand Prix Final!
If there is a legitimate reason to do so (such as Joubert)...I get it. But it seems, at least to me, for the past several years, the number of skaters taking a pass on the Grand Prix Final for....cough cough...injury has increased quite a bit.
After we had a list of competitors set for the Grand Prix Final, people began tweeting me...who do you think is gonna withdraw first? It's become expected. I remember way back when they created the Grand Prix Final (then the Champion Series Final) this was a BIG event. If you made it...you didn't withdraw.
When did the Grand Prix Final become so dispensable to competitors?
I'm not a competitive skater so I don't know how their brain thinks and works when it comes to competition; but as a well-informed spectator, I'd think that the Grand Prix Final is an invaluable opportunity. Even more valuable, I think, in an Olympic year. The Grand Prix Final will be the deepest field you'll have the opportunity to compete in prior to the Olympics. Even without all the top competitors, it still affords skaters their best "Olympic Dry Run." Four Continents Cup and Europeans offer a second shot but those are regionally constrained and, unlike the Grand Prix Final, find themselves inconveniently jammed between National Championships (for many competitors) and the Olympics.
And what if a skater goes despite the fact they may feel ill prepared? Can't as much be learned from the failure? If you go to a competition and lose...the judges have available for you a beautiful road map, called a scoring sheet, that tells you exactly what you need to do to turn that frown upside down. If I was a competitor and there was someone I wanted to beat, you better believe I would compete against them every possible chance I could. In the end, it's bound to pay dividends.
I get that skaters are always weighing the pros vs cons for going to these fall competitions. Is it smarter to expend the energy here as opposed to there. I get that in an Olympic year especially, it's a marathon, not a sprint. But from my perspective, what a competitor can gain from this particular competition is too valuable to pass up.
But that's just me.