Monday, April 05, 2010

The Op-Ed: Where's the Grand Prix?

There apparently have been some rumors floating around that the yearly Grand Prix event held in Paris (Trophy Eric Bompard) is to be no more. There are further rumors and conjecture that a new event to replace it will be in Korea.

I have no evidence to confirm or deny any of this...this is just what I'm hearing.

This got me thinking about Grand Prix events as a whole. While Figure Skating is certainly booming in Asia, it still seems a bit lopsided to have three events there and only one in Europe should they make that decision. It just doesn't seem fair. On Twitter, one person did remark, "When has anything the ISU has ever done, been accomplished under a 'Fairness' doctrine? Watch them go with Korea!"

Then I thought how unfair it is really that 6 countries get Grand Prix events every single year. They don't do this for the Junior Grand Prix, why do we do it for the Senior Grand Prix?

What do you think of my two year Grand Prix Schedule (this is of course fictional):

Year One
Skate America - Boston, Massachussetts
Skate Australia - Brisbane, Australia
Skate Italy - Milan, Italy
NHK Trophy - Sapporo, Japan
Skate Mexico - Mexico City, Mexico
Skate Korea - Seoul, S. Korea

Year Two
Skate South Africa - Durban, S. Africa
Cup of China - Beijing, China
Skate Canada - Calgary, Canada
Rostelecom Cup - St. Petersburg, Russia
Skate Finland - Kuopio, Finland
Skate New Zealand - Auckland, New Zealand

Every year, six events are chosen that hop around the world giving more global exposure to figure skating. What a prospect.

Of course, I know the answer to my previous's all about money. In order to do a globe hopping Senior Grand Prix where all the big stars are skating, the ISU would need to be sure it could generate some cash flow and sponsorship to do it. Can New Zealand bring in the same kind of cash as say Japan...not likely.

The solution, I think, is to be more privatized and less localized with how events are sponsored. Instead of US Figure Skating looking for a title sponsor for Skate America (such as Cancer.Net), the ISU could name 6 big sponsors each year (say for example Samsung, Visa, RBS, Ferrari, Toyota, and Microsoft) and work with them to find a location capable of supporting an event. You give the sponsor the choice in expanding their advertisement reach while being more flexible and expansive in delivering world class figure skating. Giving the big sponsor a voice in the event location could be a bargaining chip in lowering the price of nabbing such a huge sponsor.

I'm a numbers guy...this could work!

The only hurdle left would be Member Federations fighting to keep their annual events. How much of the proceeds from Skate America make up the annual operating budget for US Figure Skating. Might be hard to get the ISU Congress which is heavily controlled by those nations with yearly Grand Prix Events to give them up.


jumping clapping man said...

LOVE IT!!! you are so unfailingly fair.

JYKang said...

That's a really interesting idea! One concern I think of is that having the six grad prix events at a fixed country helps to build a certain level of profile? Also besides the financial issue, it would be hard to keep up the same level of quality in organization of the events if the country hosting is changed every year.

I am all for the idea of changing the location of Grand Prix Final every year though. I thought this was suppose to be case...didn't ISU announce that GPF will be held at place that didn't host a GP evnet?
but this year it's held in Beijing which is a little disappointing.

Anonymous said...

The ripples from the Asian boom are appearing faster than we expected! Next season alone, 3 of the major ISU world championships will be held in Asia: GPF, 4CC and World Championships! Not to mention, 2 grand prix events in Asia: Cup of China and NHK Trophy.

I'm not sure how I feel about rotating grand prix locations. I kind of like the tradition of having them in the same 6 countries. Unless, one can't find the funding for it anymore, like what might happen to France.

However, if a new location will be decided, I'm against it going to Korea. It's too much of an unequal distribution to have another grand prix event in an Asian country. If TEB no longer exists, I hope it's successor will relocated to elsewhere in Europe to maintain balance.

Anonymous said...

If it moves to another European country, what about Finland?

Anonymous said...

I say "leave it to the market." Europe in general is losing its interest in the sport while figure skating is booming in Asia. What good is there to block another Asian country that has been waiting to host GP one leg from having that opportunity? I don't understand the logic. Korean people would be dying to see their country hosts one leg and so they can watch top senior skaters of the world compete in their back yard yearly basis, and they are willing to pay for the cost.

Many years from now, when the popularity wares away, some other country, like New Zealand, will pick up the figure skating boom, and Korea will give the right to that country.

What the definition of "fair" should be is that the one who wants it the most gets it. Now Korea wants it the most, they should give it to Korea and its people.

Anonymous said...

I'm all against that another GP event goes to Korea. And I'm a Korean!

It's not only unfair but unjust too. All Korean Fed's doing is just riding on Yu-Na's popularity now. They even don't have decent FS-only link yet. sic.

Anonymous said...

^ I don't understand what you said has anything to do with this. We are taking about how much the Korean figure skating fans want it. If Korean fans want it and willing to pay the expenses more than any country in the world, they should get it.

Not having had any regular senior competition being held in Korea, they have been spending way too much money flying abroad to see their stars compete overseas.

Anonymous said...

how about South America? Or Middle East countries? Or places like India? Jamaica? It would be much neater than the same old "Boy's club" countries. But we all know money talks. And the GP will go to whomever pay up. It's call reality.

Aaron said...

I would be amenable to the event moving between three locations every year in Asia. For example, one year in Korea and Japan, the next in Japan and China, the next in China and Korea, etc.

But I still think it needs to be spread out a bit more. Just an opinion.

Aaron said...

And I agree, Finland would be a great fit for a new yearly Grand Prix event in Europe.

Meri said...

To the person who suggested the Middle East - AFAIK only Israel is an ISU member, and it only has one real rink. So no to that.

Wouldn't it make more sense to turn Nevbelhorn into a GP (or revive the Bofrost Cup) and hold a senior B in S. Korea? It would be great to have a senior B that's more accessible to the Asian skaters and those from Australia/New Zealand.

Finland would make sense, too.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to be quoting you for this... May I ask what is your source for this rumor? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What concerns me most, as a Western European, is that Russia is automatically assumed to be 'European'. The vast majority of that country is technically Asia; and for ur Western Europeans it is practically impossible to travel to Russia to watch figure skating (it's not safe to travel alone, visas are really expensive...). So if the Paris GP would be abolished and moved to Korea it is impossible for Western Europeans to watch *anything* of the Grand Prix. Plus the fact, as noticed above, that many big events are moving to Asia (the GPF, Worlds, I'll leave out Four Continents because for obvious reasons that will never be held in Europe). So that basically leaves us with Europeans. Which is, lets face it, not the most interesting competition of the year. It's *something*, yes. But I'd rather see a competition a little more international.

Same with shows; SOI in the US, FOI in Korea, KOI in Eastern-Europe... There's just not as much opportunity for Western Europeans to catch *any* skating.

Anyway; we just had Worlds in Turin and Worlds will come to France in 2012, so I'm not too alarmed yet.

Aaron said...

I'm with you. There is too much of a figure skating tradition in Europe to simply abandon them. A new GP event, should it come, should be in Europe...and western Europe at that!

Skate London anyone?