Tuesday, April 26

ISU Championship Direct Entries: Skater or Country?

Just a quick thought: in the event that the ISU keeps the procedure of having lower-ranked skaters/teams compete in a preliminary round before the "actual competition" in Championship events, should the policy be changed so that those skaters who earned a direct entry for their country in the previous season automatically retain that entry in the following year? Moreover, should only that skater or team be able to use the entry for their country?

If I've lost you, I'll give an example from today. Takahiko Kozuka ended up having to skate the qualifying round as Japan's third-best ISU World Standing entry in the competition (behind Daisuke Takahashi and Nobunari Oda), even though it was Oda who had one of the biggest implosions in the history of the sport at last years Worlds, causing him to fail to qualify for the free skate. Kozuka finished in 10th place, which, along with Takahashi and his gold medal win, earned Japan the two direct entries to the short program this week. By the way, Kozuka is the current Japanese National Champion.

In the same light, Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic finished the 2010 Worlds in 4th place, but since he has a lower ISU World Standing than teammate Tomas Verner, it is Brezina who had to skate in today's preliminary round, while Verner gets an additional two days of practice before his competition begins.

My thought is that a skater or team who earns a direct entry from the previous season should be able to keep that entry if they are once again competing. On the other hand, if that skater does NOT compete in the next season, then the spot is given up and the replacement skater would have to enter into the preliminary round. 

This is a hypothetical because it did not end up happening, but imagine if Joannie Rochette returned to competition this season and was given the direct entry over Cynthia Phaneuf because of the World Standings. It's like telling Phaneuf, "Well, thanks for your amazing 5th-place finish last year! We are going to reward you with one extra day of competition for your efforts!" .... you get the picture.

Continuing, Viktoria Pavuk of Hungary had her best results some seven seasons ago, but thanks to Julia Sebestyen's top-18 World placement last year, she now goes straight to the short program. I'm not intentionally ragging on Hungary here, I promise, but ice dance team Dora Turoczi and Balazs Major also have a direct entry into the short dance thanks to the placement of teammates Nora Hoffmann and Maxim Zavozin last season. It's very likely that Turoczi and Major wouldn't have made it past the preliminary round had they been required to skate.

Brooke Frieling and Lionel Rumi of Israel are also direct entries thanks to the now-retired siblings Sasha and Roman Zaretski's 2010 World Championship placement. Frieling and Rumi were 20th at this years Europeans. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy have only competed in a few 'lower'-lever ISU competitions, but they also get the direct entry here after the retirement of 2010 World bronze medalists Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali. 

German team Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi finished 7th at the European Championships this season, but they are forced to skate the preliminary round because they did not compete last season. I understand that, and I think that is how it should be. The 10th-place team at Europeans, Lucie Mysliveckova and Matej Novak of the Czech Republic, are also in the preliminary round. They did compete at the 2010 World Championships, but finished just outside of the placements that earned direct entries.

What do you think?


Meri said...

It's good to have you back, Tony!

I think the problem is the QR itself, not who gets direct entries and who doesn't (though it does seem particularly unfair to make Kozuka and Brezina do it). I know it's a cost-cutting measure, but it's unfair for some skaters to have to skate an extra program, no matter what their ranking is. Either make everyone do it, or find another way to do qualifying for Worlds (e.g. using Euros and 4CC as qualifiers, for instance).

Anonymous said...

Why not have EVERYONE skate in a qualifying round (that way it's fair)...but have it be a short program instead of long. Way less tiring. OR have a minimum seasons best score in order to qualify for skating at worlds?

Anonymous said...

I like the system as it is. A better question would be to ask why Brezina and Kozuka have lower world rankings than inferior skaters from their country? Maybe they will start taking their entire year more seriously

Anonymous said...

I agree with having a minimum season's best score, at an event such as Europeans or 4CC.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:22, are you serious? Or just ignorant? Brezina suffered from medical problems (affecting his performance at Nebelhorn) and had to have abdominal surgery this past fall, causing him to miss the Grand Prix season. That's a huge points hit. I'm not sure he was fully recovered at Euros. He had a fantastic season last year, and certainly he's the only reason that there are two Czech entries.

Kozuka has had a very good season other than the SP at 4CC, and I've no idea why he's ranked behind Nobu.

Clara said...

I think using Euros and 4CC for skating at Worlds is a silly idea.
What is if a skater is not in form or injured at Euros, but is usually good enough for a top 20 place at worlds? Two days of competition shouldnt decide the entire season! The skaters must rech already a minimum technical score since this season to compete at ISU Championaships, why do you want to make it even harder for the skaters from smaller federations? Every country should hav the right to send at last one skater per discipline to Worlds! I thought the problem was why Kozuka and Brezina skated the qualifying, why do you want to exclude the obscure skaters from competition now?