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Ziggy
09-19-2012, 06:58 PM
Two points:

1) NISA has a very small budget and it wasn't really able to send any skaters to international events (with few exceptions). A few years ago, it asked the ISU for an appraisal/report on how it could improve and make its figure skating branch more successful.

One of the main conclusions of that was that skaters needed more opportunities to compete internationally.

Ever since, British skaters are allowed to enter any international competitions, if they want to and can fund the trip.

2) I find it quite bizarre that this discussion needs to happen, given US is the country where the free market values seem pretty much unanimously espoused.

So what gives? Is it different because it's a sport so merit and not money should dictate opportunity?

But it is not possible to train in the US, in the first place, unless you have a lot of money.

It's as if people want to pretend to believe that 'true talent will always shine' where the harsh reality is: no, it won't. It won't if it doesn't have proper training conditions. And it won't have them unless it can afford them.


I still don't have a clue as to why one of the US Senior B slots was left empty. Very strange. It has to be cheaper than sending skaters to European Senior Bs.

It wasn't just "one of the slots". It's an event organised by USFS and it could have entered as many of their own skaters as it wants to.

(Of course I understand that there are logistical, financial, etc. constraints. There were 2 Ladies but 4 Men and the budget probably was for 6 single skaters.)


Is there an element of helicopter parenting involved- the drive to provide my child every opportunity at any cost, whether they've really earned it or not?

We're talking about empty, unused spots that nobody is benefiting from. Does it really bother you that somebody you would perceive as "not having earned" a spot would take it, given they paid for it themselves?

There's nothing to lose for you here but a lot to gain.

The skater will earn valuable experience of competing internationally. It will most likely motivate them and give them an incentive to keep training and stay in the sport as they will have a goal to work towards.

The competition itself will benefit from a higher level of skating, organisers will benefit from the entry fees, etc. There are lots of benefits for the sport of figure skating as a whole, not just for US skating.


I think the bigger question is how to fill up an arena. Ideally a JGP or a Senior B should be able to bring out enough real audience to make it worth the expensive trip. They are obviously not so. A skater doesn't get enough experience skating in front of just friends and family, even if it's supposed to be an international competition with real judges and real scores. It's just absurd.

It's not "supposed to be an international competition", it *is* an international competition with an international judging panel where you compete for ISU ranking points and "get your name out there" in the skating world.

Psychologically that's something completely different to a club competition so yes it does give a skater a lot of experience.


That being said, I do think it could be a good idea for U.S. skaters to pay for themselves to go to a few selected Senior Bs.

Why only a few selected ones?

kwanfan1818
09-19-2012, 07:37 PM
Some national federations would cut off their right arms to have the USFSA's limited budget. :shuffle:

I wonder what the comparison is per skater. USFS has to cover a lot of skaters across a big piece of real estate.

It might not be directly in USFS' direct interest to allow skaters to enter international competitions at their own expense under USFS guidelines -- they could even do a lottery if there were more skaters than spots -- but indirectly, the more skaters stick with the sport, the more work there is for coaches, skate sharpeners, trainers, dance teachers, physios, etc., and the more money to support rinks and skating programs from which the next set of kids will come. Some of these "unworthies" might be the skater/team that is the magnet for a smaller rink or generally unknown coach. Some of them might be the next generation of coaches and choreographers, and the experience can help them with their students.

You'd think critical mass is something they'd like to encourage.

I'm surprised skaters haven't used Kickstarter for choreography and costumes. I'm not sure whether the rules would allow them to use competitions as a project, but I think IndieGoGo would, and independent fund-raising platforms might help to level the financial playing field.

gkelly
09-19-2012, 07:52 PM
It wasn't just "one of the slots". It's an event organised by USFS and it could have entered as many of their own skaters as it wants to.

(Of course I understand that there are logistical, financial, etc. constraints. There were 2 Ladies but 4 Men and the budget probably was for 6 single skaters.)

Just a guess, but...

The announcement said they wanted up to 18 entries per discipline. They got that in the ladies and would have had to turn away representatives of other federations if they had included more US ladies (or a second Canadian lady). Could that be one reason for not inviting more of their own ladies?

I don't know how much more it would cost to add a fourth warmup group to the ladies event and allow up to 24 entries.

It wouldn't require an additional resurface, but it would make the event as a whole close to an hour longer especially on freeskate day. There would be extra athletes and coaches to accommodate -- how much does that cost the federation?

Ziggy
09-19-2012, 07:56 PM
It might not be directly in USFS' direct interest to allow skaters to enter international competitions at their own expense under USFS guidelines -- they could even do a lottery if there were more skaters than spots -- but indirectly, the more skaters stick with the sport, the more work there is for coaches, skate sharpeners, trainers, dance teachers, physios, etc., and the more money to support rinks and skating programs from which the next set of kids will come. Some of these "unworthies" might be the skater/team that is the magnet for a smaller rink or generally unknown coach. Some of them might be the next generation of coaches and choreographers, and the experience can help them with their students.

You'd think critical mass is something they'd like to encourage.

This.


I'm surprised skaters haven't used Kickstarter for choreography and costumes. I'm not sure whether the rules would allow them to use competitions as a project, but I think IndieGoGo would, and independent fund-raising platforms might help to level the financial playing field.

They wouldn't be able to use Kickstarter but they could use IndieGoGo, yes.

You need to have a target audience though and something to offer. It would be very difficult for skaters to sell their "product" although I guess there'd be no harm in trying, of course.


Just a guess, but...

The announcement said they wanted up to 18 entries per discipline. They got that in the ladies and would have had to turn away representatives of other federations if they had included more US ladies (or a second Canadian lady). Could that be one reason for not inviting more of their own ladies?

Yes, that's probably what has happened. I imagine that the event has been planned and budgeted for 18 Ladies. I was just pointing out that there are no ISU-imposed limits and USFS could theoretically enter as many skaters as they wanted to. Of course back in the real world there are logistical considerations to consider (how many entries can the organiser deal with) as well as financial ones (as USFS is paying the expenses of all the skaters it entered).

demetriosj
09-19-2012, 10:31 PM
[QUOTE=barbk;3688827]I still don't have a clue as to why one of the US Senior B slots was left empty. Very strange. It has to be cheaper than sending skaters to European Senior Bs.
QUOTE]

I know, spread the love. It could not have cost much more to include several more US Ladies singles skaters in Salt Lake. It's really inexplicable.

Sylvia
09-19-2012, 10:49 PM
I don't think it's "inexplicable." I posted this earlier in the Salt Lake Senior B thread in GSD... any U.S. skater or team in the ISP that wanted to be considered for SLC needed to have skated their programs in one competition by the first week of August. Of the U.S. Senior ladies not already assigned to a JGP, Caroline Zhang and Mirai Nagasu ended up with Nebelhorn and Finlandia, respectively, while Yasmin Siraj (a JGP alternate) did not have very good performances at Liberty in July. I don't think there were any other eligible candidates in the ISP.


I am told USFS does not plan to participate in the future, or to otherwise send such Collegiate medalists to international events - source was USFS. Hence, my question - why the change? It does provide additional opportunities for skaters of the type beings discussed here.
This is disappointing to hear. I wonder if a constructive dialogue can take place and minds changed on this subject in the future?

leapfrogonice
09-19-2012, 11:35 PM
I think hosting a Senior B in North America is a great and long overdue occurence. Really must be such a big portion of the expense to have North American skaters travel over the Europe. Another event, perhaps in Canada, makes a lot of sense. Nice how they also combined it with Novice and Junior events as well.

mikey
09-20-2012, 12:55 AM
what opportunities are they not "earning" - it's not like taking away Oly spots, and in many cases, it is events and spots that are not being used at all.If you are talking about spots that are not being used at all, then yes, I agree that it's a waste.
We're talking about empty, unused spots that nobody is benefiting from. Does it really bother you that somebody you would perceive as "not having earned" a spot would take it, given they paid for it themselves?I was referring to the original article (giving a skater the opportunity to "break out"), not to where this conversation has gone (unused spots). Like I said, I hate the idea of unused spots.

barbk
09-20-2012, 04:30 AM
I wonder how much synchro team travel costs are affecting the USFSA budget vs. ten or fifteen years ago? I am not suggesting that they shouldn't be funded; merely thinking that the increased demand on those funds combined with the major loss of TV revenue has probably caused some major changes in outlook. (What I wish it would have major changes in is the USFSA's disfunctional approach to marketing and sales, something at which they s***.)

One other thought -- we have an amazing richness these days in world class ice dancing pairs, and more need to get dancers out on the circuit than fifteen years ago, when we usually had one or two moderately competitive pairs. (Funny that as our fortunes in ice dance have risen, our fortunes on the ladies side have gone down.)

mgobluegirl
09-20-2012, 05:01 AM
I could be wrong, but I don't think synchro teams get all expenses covered by usfs for their international competitions.

stjeaskategym
09-20-2012, 06:01 AM
And the skaters I am talking about have merit. They certainly wouldn't be coming in last. For example, I wish Yasmin Siraj could go to a Senior B. She is going to train all year for Sectionals and Nationals just to qualify for a JGP the fall of 2013, when in previous years she qualified for the JGP, even the JGP final. Can you imagine what that does to your head when you are a teenager when you feel like you are going backwards? This is a skater who USFS has already made an investment in, so what would be the harm in letting her self-fund a trip to an international competition that would give her something to work towards and let her feel like she was moving forward. I have no personal knowledge of Yasmin's interest in doing this...she is just my example.

Nor would skaters have to be representing the USA...could just represent their club. I wish there was an option to be an individual member of ISU.

Yasmin, I could see, but could you imagine if you made Senior Bs a free-for-all and allowed every random skater the opportunity to sign up to compete as an individual member of the ISU? There would be 100+ ladies (most of them not of Sr ability) entered in a Senior B. :lol: There would be no prestige in these competitions if skaters didn't even have to be selected to attend. Even though they are "just" Senior Bs, they are still international competitions and should be considered somewhat of a big deal. I'm all for getting more skaters more competitive opportunities, but there still has to be some limits. I don't like the US qualifying system (that's a whole different story), but if USFS doesn't want a 5th place finisher from Sectionals (like Rabbitt) at their Nationals, why would they send him to an International?

And then there's Pairs, which has the opposite problem... Even if you allowed any skaters who felt like paying to enter a Senior B, there would still be no pairs at some of them. :lol: USFS tends to avoid sending pairs out to Senior Bs in Europe to compete against themselves.

Skaters wouldn't be so desperate for Senior B opportunities if we had a better competition schedule for upper level skaters here in North America. There are too many random club competitions and not nearly enough higher level skaters to go around. These skaters do a pretty decent job of trying to congregate at certain summer events, but it's still spread too thin (which is why Grant Hochstein flew across the country to compete against himself).

I know it might be somewhat anti-climatic, but wouldn't it be nice to have a couple meaningful club competitions later on in the season so that the majority of skaters' years wouldn't have to end after Sectionals or Nationals? When you think of skating, you think of wintertime, yet most skaters have nothing meaningful to do after early January. For the skaters who don't get out of Sectionals, that's a LONG wait until the next real competition. I understand that every club imaginable wants to hold their own competition (and a lot of them have very good attendance at the lower levels), but there has to be a better way to make the club competition circuit worthwhile for higher level (I'm thinking Nov-Sr) skaters.

kwanfan1818
09-20-2012, 06:24 AM
Disclaimer: I almost never pay attention to skaters who aren't at the senior level, and I have no attachment to any of the skaters being discussed.


Yasmin, I could see, but could you imagine if you made Senior Bs a free-for-all and allowed every random skater the opportunity to sign up to compete as an individual member of the ISU? There would be 100+ ladies (most of them not of Sr ability) entered in a Senior B. :lol:
I'm not sure why you assume that anyone could get in. There's no reason that USFS couldn't set standards that take into account not only doing well in a summer competition, but having met certain technical standards, being within a couple of years of making the transition from novice to junior or junior to senior (or coming out the other end of a rough growth spurt, having lost funding, having a family crisis, etc.) but having had solid results in the past, etc. The standards could be lower than the ones for USFS-paid Senior B's and JGP spots, but they still could be standards.

If there were not enough spaces, they could select randomly from among the applicants.


There would be no prestige in these competitions if skaters didn't even have to be selected to attend.
There's no prestige associated with most of the Senior B's; there are few exceptions like Nebelhorn, Finlandia, and a few other venerables. Skaters show up to them to get feedback from an international judging panel and to meet minimum score requirements for championships, and in the case of the Olympic qualifier, to get an Olympic spot.

2sk8
09-20-2012, 01:10 PM
This is disappointing to hear. I wonder if a constructive dialogue can take place and minds changed on this subject in the future?

I hope so - I haven't had the chance to track down the when/why of this decision. I would just like to see every possible opportunity/spot used for the skaters.


Two points:

1) NISA has a very small budget and it wasn't really able to send any skaters to international events (with few exceptions). A few years ago, it asked the ISU for an appraisal/report on how it could improve and make its figure skating branch more successful.

One of the main conclusions of that was that skaters needed more opportunities to compete internationally.

Ever since, British skaters are allowed to enter any international competitions, if they want to and can fund the trip.

This is a very interesting point, and very much in line with what many are saying here - thanks for raising it.

nylynnr
09-20-2012, 04:34 PM
More than half of the 20 senior men who competed at the 2012 U.S. Championships have one or more international assignments, with perhaps another one or two to come. With a few obvious exceptions the assignment(s) was based heavily on national-level finish(es). USFS uses the "reward" of international assignments to keep its championships, and to a lesser extent qualifying and club competitions, relevant. That's the current model and it's different, not necessarily better, but different than that of some smaller skating nations.

If all or many more interested skaters, regardless of ability and/or national finish, were assigned an international or were able to buy their way into an international, the prestige of nationals and importance of qualifying comps would decline, as it has in some European countries. (Savchenko, Szolkowy have already announced they will not compete at German nationals.) Not to mention that opening up international comps to all or more, and paying for some skaters' expenses and having other skaters pay their own way, opens up a whole new set of potential problems, including the question of whether to send US team leaders and officials. There absolutely is value in select cases (ie the University Games) but I don't see a sea change on this issue soon due to the infrastructure long in place.

Jayar
09-20-2012, 06:46 PM
I think hosting a Senior B in North America is a great and long overdue occurence. Really must be such a big portion of the expense to have North American skaters travel over the Europe. Another event, perhaps in Canada, makes a lot of sense. Nice how they also combined it with Novice and Junior events as well.

I agree that it is overdue. But how are they going to pay for it? Nobody went to it, so they certainly lost lots of money on the event. It doesn't matter to me that they didn't make money, but I think it is important for it to not become a big money sink.