Wednesday, November 14

Worlds Qualifying Spots: Will They Remain Unused? And Other Questions

Misha Ge posted earlier that his Federation notified him that he is one of only 21 men who would be competing at the World Championships as of now, if the ISU minimum technical scores for both programs are not modified prior to the event.

This got me analyzing all of the protocols from the 2011/2012 season and the completed events in the current season.

Here's where we stand for the men as far as countries with multiple entries to the 2013 World Championships:

Canada - 3 Spots
The only skaters eligible at this point are Patrick Chan, Kevin Reynolds, and Andrei Rogozine.

France - 3 Spots
The only skaters eligible at this point are Florent Amodio, Brian Joubert, and Chafik Besseghier.

Czech Republic - 2 Spots
The only skaters eligible at this point are Michal Brezina and Tomas Verner.

Kazakhstan - 2 Spots
The only skater eligible at this point is Denis Ten, meaning there could be one spot unused.

Spain - 2 Spots
The only skater eligible at this point is Javier Fernandez, meaning there could be one spot unused. Javier Raya, the second entry at Worlds 2012, has the SP minimum technical score, but not the LP.

Italy - 2 Spots
No one has achieved the minimum score. Paolo Bacchini has the SP minimum technical score, but not the LP.

Japan - 3 Spots; USA - 2 Spots
Both countries have plenty of skaters who have fulfilled the requirements. Even Russia - 1 Spot has at least seven skaters eligible.

Countries like Sweden and Romania have more than one senior man that will compete at Nationals, but only one is eligible for the World Championships at this point.

Now, this brings up some questions for me.

What is the point of a National Championship in a situation like Canada, France, and the Czech Republic have right now? Let's take Canada, for example. Say that a different skater without the technical requirements ends up on the podium, and that Rogozine finishes-- 8th. The skater on the podium would have a chance or two following Nationals to reach the minimum score (Four Continents, maybe another senior international), but if they don't achieve it, it's basically telling Rogozine that he could have done whatever he wanted at Nationals and still ended up at Worlds. I actually like Andrei, by the way, so this is really just an example :-)

Second- look at the spots that would be unused if the World Championships happened today. Kazakhstan would drop an earned spot, as would Spain. Italy, at this point, would lose both spots that were earned by Samuel Contesti in 2012! Should there be some kind of rule that guarantees skaters who have other skaters earn spots for the country a ticket to Worlds? Or is that just making the stronger countries even stronger while leaving out lesser-established skating countries? I lean towards the latter in that situation.

Third. If the World Championships are being geared more towards the 'best of the best' by establishing scoring minimums to be eligible, should the whole 'spots by country' situation be dropped in order to bring in a true championship with all of the top skaters, regardless of how many of them might come from Japan or the United States? If so, what would the cut-off for entries be then?

There's one thing for sure with these new minimums-- it seems to keep shutting out the lesser-developed countries from getting to the biggest events. In turn, the most points in the ISU World Standings and Season Rankings are not available. What does that cycle into? The next season, Grand Prix assignments won't be an option for these countries. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes when I watched the 50+ entry short programs at Worlds and saw skaters near the bottom attempting nothing more difficult than double jumps, I got a little bit bored. I know it is costly for the ISU and that is why they had to start cracking down, but I think they made these minimum requirements a little too strict.

For what it's worth (and as I mentioned in the beginning), currently, only 21 men would be competing in the short program at the World Championships. Last season, there were 45 who started the competition.

The strong keep getting stronger and the weak are just going to disappear in this system, I'm afraid.


Anonymous said...

Well, Nationals aren't just held to pick the Worlds team, and as you noted, in some cases skaters might still make the minimum in carious senior Bs as well as the two continental championships, (which have much lower qualifying scores and are thus considerably more accessible to lower-ranked skaters.

I agree that the current minimums are rather high and this could have a very bad effect on the development of skating in non-traditional skating countries. However, I understand that the ISU might also tinker with the minimums if it appears the fields are going to be too small?

It's not unprecedented for a federation to have nobody to send with the second or third spot earned the year before; sometimes the local talent level really is that thin.

Anonymous said...

If they are going to up the technical score requirement this high, then yes - nationals is a ridiculous idea. Everyone that qualifies for worlds at this point - ESPECIALLY US, Japanese, and Russian skaters - should get in. It only makes sense. Also, this is not going to help countries with smaller skating programs (South Korea especially comes to mind) get into the sport.