Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Urgent Matters

The ISU has posted "Urgent Matters" to be addressed at the ISU June Congress in Barcelona. One caught my attention in particular...

The French Skating Federation is proposing that in Olympic Years, Europeans and Four Continents Cup go bye-bye and World's be placed before the Olympics. The reasoning:

Olympics after Olympics, the statistics show very clearly that since 1994 the number of Olympic medalists present at the World ISU championships just after the Games is continuously decreasing. After both the 1998 Olympics in Nagano and the 2006 Olympics in Turin the four Olympic winners of the 4 gold medals did not compete in the ISU World Championships (in Minneapolis in 1998 and in Calgary in 2006). Out of the twelve Olympic medalists since 1998, at least half of them did not participate in the World Championships a month later. Therefore, revenge becomes impossible. The Olympic Winter Games should logically be the summit of the Olympic season and the ISU World Championships, if held just before the Games, would become the theater of a much greater enthusiasm due to the increase in top level participation.


My initial reaction without giving it much thought is...not a bad idea. But then I really started to think about it. Couldn't the reverse happen and top competitors not show up at World's to instead focus on the Olympics? And then it really hit me! This would be a terrible timeline for North American skaters. The U.S. and Canada in particular hold National Championships relatively close to the Olympics. This season both countries were right on top of the Four Continents Cup, with competitors flying directly from Spokane and London to Korea for the event. I'm envisioning a similar scenario for World's...the biggest annual event in skating, not cool. IF something like this were to pass, the U.S. and Canada would have to change their national championships schedules...and that's a big adjustment.

I say in Olympic years...move those events behind the Olympics and before World's. No matter how you slice it, you're going to have competitors not showing up at one event or another, there is so much at stake when it comes to the Olympics. Or...move the Olympics to mid-March as opposed to February. Forgiving Vancouver, most places still have snow in the mountains in March. A good portion of the events don't necessarily need real snow. And an even bigger portion of events are inside.

In the end I think this may be one of those 'unsolvables.' There really is no good solution. Any ideas?

Other urgent matters included Japan's desire to award bonus points for difficult original elements and the ISU's plan to make sure they have control of a possible (theoretical?) team figure skating event in the Olympics (hadn't heard about that).


Anonymous said...

I wonder why ISU doesn't do something like the FIG does? During non Olympic years*, there is Worlds. During Olympic years, there are no worlds. There are still World Cup events but no Worlds.

*The year after the Olympics, there is no team event at World Championships. Only All-around and event finals.

I realize that that is gymnastics but I think it would be a interesting idea to may be not have world championships in an Olympic year..

rachel e said...

By team event, do they mean synchro, or, gymnastic style, where certain people would do certain elements, and the country gets a total?

Because it's about damn time synchro was in the Olympics.

Aaron said...

I agree Rachel...seems quite unusual that Synchro isn't an Olympic event.

But, the rule doesn't describe Synchro at all. It says: "If in the program of the Olympic Winter Games a Team Event involving Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance is
adopted by the IOC in addition to the existing number of events, the Council in consultation with the IOC shall determine all relevant conditions (number of teams and participants, qualifying/participation/entry criteria, technical format, starting order, result determination, Officials participation and other relevant technical and organizational

I don't even think the IOC has considered such an event. This is a "just in case they do" clause.


Anonymous said...

I agree. The Olympic champion is the World champion. No Worlds in Olympic years.

Ice Charades said...

I agree as well. No Worlds during the Olympics, because they aren't taken seriously anymore.

Anonymous said...

No Rachel, Synchro Gymnastics (actually called Acrobatic gymnastics) has a different schedule than Artistic gymnastics (Women's, Men's, and Rhythmic). By team I mean each country competes as a team.

So for next year's (2011) it is the qualifier for how many teams get to compete at the Olympics. Top 12 get to send full teams (6 girls), The next, 12 I think get to send 2 (or 3, can't remember) girls. Then there are wild card spots for countries who can't send full teams or whoever wins them if their team didn't place in the top 12 at the previous worlds. For example at 2008, one of the wild card spots went to a Dutch male gymnast.

And by team, I think the IOC means a country "team" so like all the US skaters are the US team

jeffjhb said...

I rather propose that the WC should be held every other year skipping the Olympic season.
GPF is enough for every year.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, Jeff, I disagree. Only 6 skaters can make the GPF, and only 8-12 skaters are participating at each Grand Prix Events. Think of all the skaters who don't get to participate in the GP at all... Having a Worlds every year allows for the skaters to get in at least 4 or 5 competitions per season, which I think is appropriate.

I would, however, understand eliminating Worlds in an Olympic year. But I really don't see the point. Just because the Olympic Champions sometimes are not willing to show up does not mean the whole event needs to be done away with. But I agree with the writer of this blog that moving Worlds BEFORE the Olympics wouldn't work out so great either.

rachel e said...

Sorry, wagrobanite, my comma-use was poor (bad proofreading on my part!). I meant whether it would be synchronized skating (which is already a sport), or would it like the gymnastics team event, like in the summer Olympics.

I've never heard of acrobatic gymnastics, but it sounds cool.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we just make it an obligation. Meaning if you are ranked in the top 30, you must participate in the Worlds before the Olympics. No ifs and buts. If you don't and unless your leg are in casts or immediate death in the family, then you are DQ from the Olympics. Then we don't have the excuses of stomachaches or too tired, etc. And guess what, I bet every single top 10 kids will show up for the Worlds before the Olympics. A little threat goes a long way.

Ideally, I don't see the point of having the Worlds during the Olympic year.

Aaron said...

Ohhhh Anonymous I think you are on to something.

Why not make the Olympic qualifier and the number of participating athletes that each member nation can send that World Championship directly before the Olympics (assuming they move World's in front of the Olympics)...if their Olympic berths are on the line you better believe the top athletes would show up then!

Elizabeth said...


You brought up a good point in your original post about the North American championship schedule. It's no wonder a European country made this proposal as most of those countries' champs are in December.

I'm not a proponent of either moving the date or completely removing Worlds during o-years. The proposal demonstrates how very few Olympic medalists have attended worlds since 1994, the year of the whack. It's also when the amateur and pro worlds really started to blend. We're left now with skaters like Plushenko who never truly retire from eligible skating but will train for big events like the Olympics every four years.

I think it would be best to make becoming the Olympic and World champ in the same year similar to the Triple Crown in racing. It's a rare feat, but you make history and get millions more dollars on top of the regular earnings.

Elizabeth said...

On the synchro note, my understanding as to part of why synchro is not an Olympic sport yet is related to the number of athletes.

I think there were 20 teams that competed at the synchro worlds in Colorado Springs this year. Teams consist of 16 skaters on the ice and usually 4 alternates. Imagine having an event of 20 teams with 20 athletes each... that's 400 extra Olympians! The ISU already cut the standard size of a senior synchro team several years ago to help with this factor.

400 extra Olympians means additional Olympic Village buildings, village food, village toilet paper... plus, the additional scheduling at a venue. Short track and figure skating is already at the same venue so I'm sure the practice schedule on the official ice is already a large task to manage. Scheduling additional practice venues for 20 teams would involve some serious logistics as well.

Of course, I'm sure this will eventually be worked out! Once the world sees synchro at the Olympics they will wonder why was anyone ever so entranced by curling? ;)