Figure Skating: From the Boards

Is no news good news? March 19, 2011

Filed under: 2010-2011 Season News — Tara Wellman @ 6:28 pm

The latest from the ISU told us that a decision will be made by Tuesday at the latest regarding what comes next for Worlds. That decision, however, still has the potential to be inconclusive — it appears that decision could only entail how Japan fits in the picture.

Initially, it seemed October was the number one choice for Cinquanta. Beyond that, cancellation of the event. Now, he says that’s the last choice — the “most extreme solution.”

So…is the delay of news a good thing for those hoping the event is moved and still held?

The ISU is, from my understanding, waiting to hear from the Japanese Skating Federation on whether or not they feel they’ll be capable of hosting the event later in the year (that’s where October comes in). Regardless of what they decide, more decisions will have to be made.

If Japan wants to try to host, how does the ISU suggest the skaters prepare? Are there adjustments made to the 2012 schedule? What happens if October rolls around and Japan is still not up for hosting such a high-caliber event?

I had one reader from Japan bring up an interesting element in regards to the possibility of an energy shortage in Japan, even months from now — September and October are hotter months in Japan anyway, and with the lack of nuclear power, there is already a shortage of energy. In the heat of the summer, cooling both ice and accommodations could be too great a strain on the energy grid.

Thus, that problem would have to be solved, among many others that haven’t been discussed yet, I’m sure.

Even if the decision is that Japan will not be stable enough to host, the list of decisions doesn’t get much shorter.

Is it better to cancel, citing respect and concern for the people of Japan in the face of an undeniably devastating tragedy? What about respect for the athletes? Or the fact that Japan’s own World Team has the chance to unite its people around their multiple potential World Champions?

I’ve heard several people in the last few days claiming that the skaters (including US Champ Alissa Czisny) who are asking that Worlds be moved are, essentially, being selfish in their wishes to skate, in light of the situation in Japan. “It’s one sporting event. How can they even compare it to the life-changing events in Japan?” they ask.

Let’s not forget, though, that this is more than “just another event” for these athletes — all of them, including those from Japan. For skaters, this is their livelihood. It is their every day.

For fans, it may simply be the last event of the season. For fans, there will always be next year. For skaters in their prime, this could be it. This could be their chance to make all of the years of work pay off.

If Mao Asada spent the year trying to rebuild her technique, ready to peak at Worlds, only to have that chance taken away, is that really more respectful to Japan than moving the event?

If Ryan Bradley is, in fact, in the best shape of his career, is it disrespectful of him to be unhappy with the fact that he might not have the chance to prove it?

If you worked your life away hoping for one chance, one moment, wouldn’t you be disappointed that a natural disaster completely out of your control, even one as crippling as this, might take away your ability to even make an attempt at that goal?

And to say that there has been no more than “lip service” of concern from the skating community is not only a stretch, it’s impossible to say. How does one judge anonymously from behind a computer screen what someone else may or may not be doing to help? I learned today of a skating show being organized as I type to raise funds to send to the relief efforts in Japan. That seems like more than lip service to me. And we, as fans, journalists, or passers by, have no realistic way of making a reliable assumption about what the World Team members may or may not have done themselves.

So let’s not get carried away.

That leaves us with the questions created by moving the Championships.

Most simply, where and when? Furthermore, how “scaled down” would it be? How many volunteers could be gathered? Would fans be willing to buy tickets on short notice?

I read in another blog post the other day that to say preparing for the event on such short notice is impossible is to underestimate the spirit of those intent on making this event a representation of the heart-warming spirit of the people of Japan. This event, even if held outside Japan, would be a testament to the strength and fortitude of a nation in dire need of something to cheer for.

While none of what we as writers or fans say makes any real difference, I can only hope that those with opinions that do matter will take into account what the people of Japan — those people we all want to be most considerate of in their time of need — truly want, need, and deserve, and what is in the best interest of the skaters who will, in fact, be the most directly affected by whatever decision is made.

As it has been, my heart and prayers are with Japan. I pray that, Worlds or no worlds, they find a glimmer of hope as they attempt to recover. (But maybe — just maybe — a few World Champs could be that glimmer…?)




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