GP Selection Reform: Suggestions, Thoughts, etc.
Not sure if this belongs in the Trash Can or here, but I wanted to open a thread for discussion on something that has been alluded to throughout the year, and that is reform for the way athletes are selected to compete on the GP. Most importantly, and the focus of my post, is the currect (lack of) a true, effective means of designating alternates and ultimately ensuring competitions are always filled. Fields of 8 in an important Olympic season, while so many talented skaters were passed by, is just not fair or the proper way to promote this sport so close to the Games.
I've outlined the main points/question I have had... And posted my overall suggestion at the end. Feel free to tear it apart - am interested to hear what you all have in mind, as my ideas aren't very off the current structure.
Goal of Series/Eligibility
The goal of the GP in recent years has been to showcase the sport's best, rather than an opportunity for younger skater's to gain experience. Do you agree with this mission and current criteria for eligibility: through WS, SB or placement at the previous Worlds?
Additionally, clause have been added to allow for "comeback skaters" to reinstate for 1 season, as well as "split couples" to return with their new partner, provided they had achieved a set degree of success previously..
The fields have been reduced to 10 for singles and 8 for pairs/dance. Given the already selective nature the series, are these numbers enough? Are they contradictory to the ISU's mission of wanting to showcase the very best - or, does "the very best" mean fields of 8/10 these days?
The 6 host countries have been the same since the series began, aside from China replacing Germany. Is this fair? Should other nations have the chance?
Adding further insult, these 6 nations are the only ones able to send skaters to these events who would not otherwise be eligible.
I won't begin to explain the current procedure for selecting replacements; see the GP thread for kwanfan's excellent updates. However, in the end, the host county is still able to choose from a pool of 5 (?) alternates at whim, giving more power to these host countries and allowing biased decisions to be made. Sometimes, it seems, as many people felt happened with Nagasu last year, countries choose weaker, less competitive athletes to cause less threat to their own skaters.
Should the ISU have more control over this process?
If the objective of the GP stays the same, and thus the same eligibility rules apply, I would like to see at least see them allow Senior B's to count toward SB scores; the fact that you can only qualify for the series via Championship score/placement makes it nearly impossible for non-host skaters to break through.
I would then raise the fields back to 12/10, budgets be damned. However, while I have no problem giving split couples and retired skaters the chance to return, I might consider limiting that to a max of 1 event, given how limited spots are. I could be convinced otherwise, however.
The spots would be filled similarly as they are now; however, I would remove the host pick's ability to choose an additional, non-qualified athlete and instead give this privilege to any country that places a skater in the top 14 (singles) and 12 (pairs/dance). The host countries will almost always qualify a "wildcard," but now it is earned and countries like Italy have the opportunity to send a rising talent out for experience.
Lastly, the substitution list and process needs complete reform. A list of 10 athletes per each discipline will be announced at the start of the series. Priority will be given to those with a top SB who do not have a single event, followed by top World Championship finishers without a second, and so on. The list would evolve over the season, of course, but it would be required that federations adhere to the list when making substitutes, except in the case of a "wildcard." Replacements must be filled within 7 days of a withdrawal, unless proper evidence is given regarding visa issues and the like. I almost want to require alternates travel to a competition, but it would be way too exhausting/break training. Perhaps the list should be segmented geographically?
One thing not mentioned would be qualification tom the final; I know some would prefer the highest scores to advance, but I think that would be far too subjective.
I agree with increasing the numbers of skaters per event back to 12. I know that the reason/excuse for decreasing the numbers was the finance, but if B competition (e.g. Cup of Nice) can have 32 ladies skaters in one category and not go bankrupt, I am sure that those few additional skaters in each GP event (12 skaters per event) will not make that much difference to the hosting skating federation. Alternatively, if it is too expensive, there are several options, such as the events taking place in different countries if one country can't afford it every year. Or, alternatively, the skating federation of skaters for those two additional placements will fund it. After all, if a skater doesn't get GP event, his/her Federation usually tries to send him/her to some B competition and contributes towards it, so it doesn't make much difference sending a skater to B event or send him/her to GP event.
I don't really like that some countries can send 3 skaters because they are organising the event. That's unfair towards the skaters who are much higher in the rankings but didn't get event.
I also don't like that there is a quota of max 3 skaters from one country per event. some countries have a lot of good skaters, e.g. US and Russian ladies, Japanese men etc. It would be a pity if someone good was left out because there is max skaters from that country allowed. Having max 3 skaters from one country per event means that there may be max 9 ladies from one country (if each of them has 2 events). What if the country has 9 or 10 very high level of skaters? Changing country is frowned upon, and the skater needs to sit out 2 years, so if GP is based on skills, there shouldn't be a quota per country. It should be purely on their skating results.
I don't like that countries can choose for substitutes from 5 skaters. That makes it unfair, because sometimes a skater number 38 gets an event while skater number 31 is still waiting.
I also think that the skaters from the countries who don't organise the GP event have got it much harder to get to GP. I understand the reason why the results from B competitions don't count towards their personal best but where can they get the points? I think it is much more difficult for countries from Europe, because their country may be able to send only 1 skater to the Europeans, whereas if I recall correctly, each country at 4CC has three entries. That gives more opportunity for skaters to get the points/personal best score.