I've written a lot about it the last few days, but in case you didn't know: the ISU has come up with a minimum technical score that needs to be reached in each program for all disciplines in order to allow skaters to be qualified to compete at the World Championships this season. You can find the full lists of qualified skaters to this point at the top of my blog.
On top of the technical scores, the system of qualifying spots based on 2012 Worlds results is still in play. For example, Italy has earned three ladies berths, but as of now, only two ladies would be able to compete (Carolina Kostner and Valentina Marchei). Currently, no other Italian has reached the minimum scores. On the opposite hand, Russia has eight men that have reached the technical minimum but can only send one man because of the disappointing results Sergei Voronov and Artur Gachinski had at the 2012 Worlds.
Now this presents a problem to me. The minimum score was established essentially to weed out some of the lower-level skaters and make the World Championships more of a 'best of the best' event-- right?
If it is going to be a true amazing Championship with all of the best skaters, I think both systems (the minimum technical score AND spots earned by country) need to be dropped in favor of something that rewards the strongest skaters throughout the season a chance to compete at Worlds, regardless of country.
I would propose that 30 ladies and mens skaters, 25 dance teams, and 20 pairs skaters are able to be registered for Worlds. This is five warm-up groups for each of the disciplines. After the short programs/short dance, 20% of the fields would be reduced, leaving 24 ladies and men, 20 dance teams, and 16 pairs. This is already what the ISU does after the preliminary rounds are held.
GRAND PRIX FINAL QUALIFICATION
First, I believe that Grand Prix Final qualifiers should automatically be given a spot at Worlds. That would be six entries for each of the four disciplines right there, and it gives skaters a huge incentive to compete and do well in the series.
EUROPEANS/FOUR CONTINENTS QUALIFICATION
Europeans and Four Continents would also be comprised of a maximum 30 ladies and mens skaters, 25 dance teams, and 20 pairs skaters with the same cuts after the short programs/short dance as discussed above. In some cases, these totals would likely not be reached (Four Continents pairs, for example). The entries for these events would be solely based upon Seasons Best scores directly preceding the events.
After skipping the Grand Prix Final qualifiers final placements (if they elect to compete), the top 9 ranked men and ladies, the top 5 ranked pairs, and the top 7 ranked ice dance teams from each competition would qualify themselves to Worlds.
SEASONS BEST QUALIFICATION
The remaining 6 spots in ladies and mens, 4 spots in pairs, and 5 spots in dance would be determined by those that are not yet qualified to the World Championships through the Grand Prix Final or Europeans/Four Continents but are highest-ranked on the Seasons Best lists.
The ISU has come up with a decent rule this season (probably the only one). Skaters who compete at the World Championships are no longer eligible to compete at the World Junior Championships. Technically, skaters could still compete at both in a season if they were sure that it was the last time they wanted to go to World Juniors, as it comes before Worlds.
Plan A: Any age-eligible skater World Junior Championship who finishes high enough at Europeans/Four Continents or in the remaining seasons best results to qualify for a World Championship spot is able to compete in both events, only if they understand that competing at senior Worlds makes them ineligible for junior Worlds starting the next season. If they elect not to compete at senior Worlds, although having earned a spot, the next in line on the Seasons Best list would compete.
Plan B: The medal winners from World Juniors would then have the option to go on to Worlds if they elect (while still keeping junior eligibility for the next season), but still having to meet age requirements. Since that would require me to re-work all of my qualification numbers above, I'll stick with plan A.
THE ONE SLIGHT PROBLEM
I understand that this might shut out lower countries from really getting a chance to compete at the big events, and in turn not earn enough points in the World Standings to get events like the Grand Prix. However, the ISU is already on a path that shuts out lower-level skaters from Worlds. I'd rather see all of the top skaters in the biggest competition and not skaters who have qualified based on a spots by country method and THEN reaching a minimum technical score.
Consistency in judging is always going to be a potential issue (as far as levels and components being consistent between events), but we have been debating that for years.
The Seasons Best list would have to reflect all competitions, as it only reflects the senior and junior Grand Prix so far this year.
What do you think?