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  1. #1
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    The value of a European versus Four Continents title/medal

    When Four Continents was launched in 1999 as the North American, Asian and Oceanic equivalent of Europeans, the USA didn't send team members such as Kwan, Hughes, or Weiss, somewhat reducing the event to the status of a senior B international. Europeans however, was attended by the skaters that would be heading on to worlds.

    Four Continents results 1999

    Four Continents results 2013

    Europeans results 1999

    Europeans results 2013

    Having broadcast Four Continents for the first time this year, interestingly, British Eurosport commented that the singles competitions were so much stronger at Four Continents than Europeans.

    With the shift in singles' skating superpowers from Europe to Asia, even though Four Continents has less nations (with smaller federations struggling to meet the minimum TES), how equal are both championships 15 years on?
    Last edited by essence_of_soy; 02-16-2013 at 03:38 AM.

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    Europeans is still more prestigious. One factor is simply tradition. Another is that most European countries do not have competitive nationals. Europeans thus fills that void and is important to the best skaters from such lands as France, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovakia, Germany, Spain, UK, and Poland. The Japanese and USA singles still emphasize success at their nationals over Four Continents.

    What will help 4CC in the future will be to have stars from the emerging Asian nations, like Korea and China. If it remains a a CAN vs USA vs Japan championship, it will not grow in significance. If Yu Na had competed this year, it would have made the ladies event considerably more unique.

    Ice dance at 4CC lacks luster compared to Euros. Ice dancing is most appreciated by European audiences. The North Americans have become powerful, but the Asians are so far behind that for the years ahead the 4CC ice dance event will be a two-country show with some very bland or weak Asian teams dragging behind.

    Pairs is an underwhelming 4CC event at present. The Chinese have no depth right now, so there is little competitiveness or distinctiveness in winning pairs at 4CC. It's about the North American pairs and resembles a "B championship". It will help when Japan and Korea start to have 4CC pair teams and when China regains depth.
    Last edited by TheIronLady; 02-16-2013 at 01:46 PM.

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    A 4CC should be held in Australia. That country has too many skating enthusiasts to be peripheral at 4CCs.

    Also it is important for the Latin countries to continue to be represented in 4CC. It has done a lot to encourage skating interest within Mexico.

    These things might not increase the prestige of a 4CC title in the short term, but in the long term it should create interest and participant excitement by shoring up the involvement of the Latin Americans, South Africans, and Australians.
    Last edited by TheIronLady; 02-16-2013 at 06:24 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by essence_of_soy View Post
    When Four Continents was launched in 1999 as the North American, Asian and Oceanic equivalent of Europeans, the USA didn't send team members such as Kwan, Hughes, or Weiss, somewhat reducing the event to the status of a senior B international. Europeans however, was attended by the skaters that would be heading on to worlds.

    ...

    Having broadcast Four Continents for the first time this year, interestingly, British Eurosport commented that the singles competitions were so much stronger at Four Continents than Europeans.

    With the shift in singles' skating superpowers from Europe to Asia, even though Four Continents has less nations (with smaller federations struggling to meet the minimum TES), how equal are both championships 15 years on?
    That's because they have some unfortunate problems with their long-term memory. No way was the men's event better than the one at Euros, or that Reynolds' LP was among the greatest ever. Reynolds' total score would have barely allowed him to win silver at Euros, and the two other medalists didn't do as well as their European counterparts, either.

    The thing with 4CC is that the fields can be very good or pretty mediocre, in part based on location or whether it's an Olympic year. I think this hurts the event's prestige - because 4CC results are not all created equal. With the Europeans, skaters don't often skip the event just because it's far away (and with so many skaters now training in North America, it is far away for some of them), or because it's too close to Nationals (because Euros is a month after the last Nationals in Europe). Between having more tradition and having fields that generally include everyone of note, I think it still is more prestigious.

    I'm not sure how I feel about federations being allowed to send 3 entries per discipline at 4CC regardless of the previous year's results. On the one hand, it is important from a developmental standpoint. OTOH, it allows skaters an opportunity that comparable OES don't always have.

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    The thing with 4CC is that the fields can be very good or pretty mediocre, in part based on location or whether it's an Olympic year. I think this hurts the event's prestige - because 4CC results are not all created equal. With the Europeans, skaters don't often skip the event just because it's far away (and with so many skaters now training in North America, it is far away for some of them), or because it's too close to Nationals (because Euros is a month after the last Nationals in Europe). Between having more tradition and having fields that generally include everyone of note, I think it still is more prestigious.
    I think you pretty well captured the issues. As long as top skaters chose not to go the 4CC, it won't have the prestige of Europeans. And as long as the event covers 70% of the earth and is inevitably a very long trip for a good number of the skaters, it will continue to have this problem. I know some Europeans train in North America now, but a flight from the US (esp the Eastern US where most of them train) to Europe is nothing compared to traveling from here to Asia or Australia. That trip basically knocks you out of commission for a couple days coming and going.

    I think the fact that neither the US nor Canada has moved its Nationals to make the schedule easier for those attending 4CC says a lot about just how little they regard or value it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan M View Post
    I think you pretty well captured the issues. As long as top skaters chose not to go the 4CC, it won't have the prestige of Europeans. And as long as the event covers 70% of the earth and is inevitably a very long trip for a good number of the skaters, it will continue to have this problem. I know some Europeans train in North America now, but a flight from the US (esp the Eastern US where most of them train) to Europe is nothing compared to traveling from here to Asia or Australia. That trip basically knocks you out of commission for a couple days coming and going.
    Even East Coast to most of Europe is a pretty long flight, and more importantly, a six time zone difference (if it's a location in central European time). For skaters based further out west, there are some cases in which some East Asian destinations are probably closer than European ones. I think it's more about the importance given to the two events by the skaters and the federations. After all, skaters don't skip Worlds, or even their GPs, just because of the distances involved.

    I think the fact that neither the US nor Canada has moved its Nationals to make the schedule easier for those attending 4CC says a lot about just how little they regard or value it.
    I agree.
    Last edited by Zemgirl; 02-16-2013 at 10:28 AM.

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    The only discipline that was stronger at 4cc than at Euros was ladies, even though the podium of Europeans was a very strong one, because several ladies were very good there. Pairs and Dance lack the depth of Europeans yet. The men were actually not craptastic at all at europeans and they have much more momentum going to worlds than the others
    I have to say attendance in 4cc is great when it's in Japan. Not sure what would happen in other countries

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    09 4CC is the best figure skating event I ever attended and that includes the Olympics.

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    Interesting topic: I had no idea so many countries did not have nationals. Medaling at Europeans then would be a fantastic honor. I always thought of 4CC as a something of a consolation for third and fourth place finishers although maybe I should rethink that. Re Ironlady's suggestion: A chance to see favorite skaters and Australia at the same time would be wonderful.

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    To clarify, most countries do hold nationals. They just have limited depth. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia hold a joint nationals to pool their nations' skaters/resources and make it a better event with enough entrants. I think a lot of famous European skaters, however, focus on peaking at Europeans because their national fields are more limited in their discipline. The Czech men for example look to establish themselves at Euros. It has a lot of prestige and rewards for them.

    Qualifying spots for your nation at Euros for the next year is also somewhat significant. The same cannot be said for 4CC due to the nature of it.
    Last edited by TheIronLady; 02-16-2013 at 04:43 PM.

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    Lets face it, the 4CC is about 4 countries, not 4 continents. Europeans have much more depth in this area, which also makes the event more interesting to watch.

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    ALL of the european skaters plan their season to peak at Euros. Those wo are not among, let's say aprox. 5/6 top skaters in the world do it because they may have a chance to medal there. The elite skaters do it because it's very different to go to Worlds as reigning euro champ rather than a "simple" medalist. All the others do it because Euros is the most prestigious competition they're attending in the whole season and probably one of their last ones and usually they are able to raise their PCS if not in the same event, in future competitions just by attending it.

    I think that an European title will always be much more important than a 4CC one as long as skaters and federations will not start to treat 4CC as europeans treat Euros, that is to say as the second most important event of the year. I understand that they have a very strong competition at home for Nationals, but it is extremely annoying when you don't get to watch top skaters fighting among each other (unless there is a very good reason like a severe injury), just because they rather stay home and having more time to prepare for Worlds, which may be reasonable in seasons like this one when Worlds are so early, but not in other seasons IMHO.
    Last edited by eleonorad; 02-16-2013 at 05:31 PM.
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    You know, it really depends on the discipline, the year, and who decides to show up.

    Who of the major European skaters missed Euros this year? Pechelat/Bourzat, Korpi and Leonova
    Who of the major Four Continents skaters missed 4CC this year? W/P, Chan, Sui/Han, Pang/Tong, Kim, Wagner, Kozuka, Abbott

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    I agree, the big difference is that Euros are still THE big competition for European skaters, and the best skaters from each european country always go to Euros. It's not the case for 4CC.
    But in term of level, actually, I'd say 4CC seems to be more interesting in Ladies and Men.

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    I would venture to say that a number of the top skaters don't attend 4CC because of travelling distances and time differences. For those who attend Europeans, I would venture that the most time difference would be about a 6-8 hours? Now take someone from the east coast of Canada and have them fly to Japan -- you are looking at something like a 14 hour time difference not to mention how long it would take to travel there. So I would venture to guess that sometimes top skaters from countries where time/distance is a factor may be inclined to give it a miss. What with there being top skaters from so many of the countries, I can understand why 4CC is likley to always have some skaters giving it a pass.

    I understand that decision but I do think it takes away from what TPTB were hoping the 4CC would become -- an equivalent to Europeans. If they were really serious about having something similar, then perhaps they should do away with 4CC and institute a couple of "regional" comps instead. You could have a North/South American comp, and then a Pacific area one that would see Australia, China, Japan and ??? competing. Just some thoughts flowing.
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    All this talk about how far people have to travel for events never seems to come up during the Grand Prix season....
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    Isn't 4CC a Worlds qualifier for some Asian countries?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIronLady View Post
    A 4CC should be held in Australia. That country has too many skating enthusiasts to be peripheral at 4CCs.
    Sorry but Australia does not have too many skating enthusiasts. It is a minority sport in this country and will always be. As much as I would love to see a 4CC in Australia, and as one of the countries that is entitled to participate we probably should have it, the reality is it is not practical nor viable for anyone to run it here. The requirements of what you need to run an event such as 4CC is cost prohibitive for any Australian association to take it on and they cannot risk the massive losses that would go with that event. Not to mention possibly burning out your volunteer workforce.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    There are several reasons I think Australia has unusual enthusiasm for and disproportionate interest in skating.

    There are a lot of Russian coaches working in Australia.

    On the whole it is not a cold weather country and has a relatively small population, but it has attracted top coaches and choreographers, including for a time Torvil and Dean.

    Australia has also had talented skaters in the top ten and top twenty at Worlds: Joanne Carter, Miriam Manzano, Stephanie Zhang, and Anthony Liu... Cheltzie Lee... I think this speaks to the general athletic talent and love of sport that seems part of Australia's national character, but it also shows that Aussie skating fans and officials-- though small in number-- are devoted to figure skating. They share in the Anglo-American tradition of skating, which survives not only in America and Canada, but also in Britain. I think this gives them something to build on that Thailand or Mexico do not have.

    It is a shame that things seem in decline there. Perhaps it is because IJS has made the sport so much harder. I still think the foundations are there to build on for Australia. It may be financially unrealistic, but it would be a great promotional boon to Australian skating to host 4CC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    Sorry but Australia does not have too many skating enthusiasts. It is a minority sport in this country and will always be. As much as I would love to see a 4CC in Australia, and as one of the countries that is entitled to participate we probably should have it, the reality is it is not practical nor viable for anyone to run it here. The requirements of what you need to run an event such as 4CC is cost prohibitive for any Australian association to take it on and they cannot risk the massive losses that would go with that event. Not to mention possibly burning out your volunteer workforce.
    Having been a small part but integral part in helping organise Australian Nationals for the past 3 years, because it is volunteer - run, the issue is that many of the folks, parents of skaters, ex - skaters, and fans involved donate their time after hours and on weekends on top of working paid jobs, etc. Even for Nationals, there is a lot of planning involved that is set many months in advance. It is definitely a project of passion for many, and something like Four Continents would be much bigger, with international advertising and tv involved.

    Even the JGP in Brisbane two years ago, though held in a 500 seat local rink, was barely attended by anyone outside the immediate skating community.

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