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Posted By SkatingPj

Well it has been a busy morning for this little blogger.

First there was a note on a fan site talking about Russia being the new host for the ISU Worlds and then not long after Mr Putin was quoted confirming the details in the press.

It has been a very long couple of weeks not the least of which for the Japanese people who had to endure more earthquakes again in the last 24 hours.

I contacted 1st Vice-President of the ISU - David Dore for his thoughts on the matter.

He declined to comment specifically on Moscow, Russia wanting to focus instead on the bigger picture and the fact that the issue has been resolved:

Pj: " Can you comment on the allocation of Worlds?

DAVID DORE: "I am pleased that the matter is now sorted out and hope that the competing athletes can gain from this experience."

He acknowledged that it had been a very difficult process and that gettin it solved had required the efforts of many.

With regard to the Worlds not able to be held in Japan, Dore had this to say:

DAVID DORE: "It must be very difficult for the Japanese and understand and appreciate their magnanimoty and hope that their country can solve their domestic problems as quickly as they are able."

 

The dates have been confirmed as April 25 - May 1 in Moscow, Russia. The ISU's press release can be found at:  http://www.isu.org/vsite/vcontent/content/transnews/0,10869,4844-128590-19728-18885-312988-3787-4771-layout160-129898-news-item,00.html

 

For Canadian fans, BOLD (CBCs digital channel) and I will be on hand for all of it.

 

If you would like to help the Japanese relief efforts, here are a few websites to try:

www.cbc.ca/japanrelief

www.redcross.ca

My friends (and yes I really do know theese people - and they're amazing) at Artistry have set up a link through their parent company Amway, where they are matching donations: Here is the link to check it out:

http://www.amway.ca/Shop/Product/Product.aspx?itemno=110699

 


 
Posted By SkatingPj

This has been a very strange week and a half for Carol Lane - one half of the coaching team primarily responsible for Canada's Ice Dance champions Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier.

First there was the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Carol was unsettled on the Thursday evening just before the Friday disaster and told her husband Jon that the rain storm was "wrong". She and Jon had been in Stuttgart after the Chernobyl disaster and they were informed to stay indoors during another very strange rain storm. Carol was sufficiently spooked by the storm a week ago Thursday that she made Jon check the house with her room by room. He tried to reassure her that it was simply a storm and she insisted that "there was something wrong." Not able to sleep, she stayed up past 2am reading. Once asleep, she was wakened by the phone at 3:30am and her sister in England hysterical on the other end worried that Carol and the skaters were already in Japan. Jon said "Bloody hell - you knew something was wroong didn't you?" Spooky.

Carol wishes that she had had the same sense of premonition 2 days later when she stepped on a piece of Canskate (learn to skate program) equipment  on the ice,causing her to fall over. She had already broken her hip by going on the ice with her guards on - so when it looked like she was going to go down on that hip, she put her hand out to break her fall. Not only did she break her fall - she broke her wrist in a couple of different ways - sort of horizontal in one place and vertical in another with a little bit of floating bone. She says she has a massive cast.  Leave it to Carol to get all fancy with a bone break - and - it has to be said...can you imagine if she wasn't coordinated????

So here we are and aside from having to figure out how to keep her skaters on the ice in a situation that has never happened before, she has to do it with her dominant hand in a cast.

New day - new problem. They say (whoever they are) that everything comes in threes. Vanessa Crone needs new skates. A decision was made at the end of the Four Continents, that although it wasn't ideal, Vanessa's skates could last until Worlds but truly not one minute longer. She had tried them after Taiwan and wasn't comfortable and begged to be able to stay in her old boots.  The time has come to make the change and once again if Carol had been able to see what was coming, she would have insisted on the new boots a month ago.

Although this piece is all in fun - the truth of the matter is Carol shared with me that she is heartbroken with what has happened in Japan. "I can say without a shred of a doubt I don't want to even contemplate a Worlds in October. In a month or so, I can deal with that. The kids just want to know. If we are going to do it  in a month they will gird their loins and get to it. I dont think anyone would have ever had to deal with this scenario before. It really is a voyage of discovery."

 

If you want to help Japan - check out: www.cbc.ca/japanrelief or www.redcross.ca

My friends (and yes I really do know theese people - and they're amazing) at Artistry have set up a link through their parent company Amway, where they are matching donations: Here is the link to check it out:

http://www.amway.ca/Shop/Product/Product.aspx?itemno=110699


 
Posted By SkatingPj

What has been so fascinating about the tragedy in Japan is that it has brought out the best and the worst in people. The best because the vast majority of figure skating fans want nothing more than to have the possibility of a World championship be about the skaters and what is best for them.

In the following article on Ice-Dance.com, the writer is able to get to the heart of the matter and make a wonderful case for a scaled down version of Worlds to take place in another city. They understand that there isn't the normal 3 years to plan something and feel that something could be done. I agree that a month could be long enough to come up with something.  See for yourself:

http://www.ice-dance.com/component/content/article/68-articles/1032-2011-world-championships-our-thoughts

As we all try and figure out what will happen, I continue to be bugged about the fact that there does not seem to be a plan in place. Despite the fact that Monday or Tuesday has been mentioned as being the next date for an ISU update, it seems a little loosey-goosey to me and who's to say it won't become Wedenesday or whenever?.  

According to a fan with whom i am in contact who goes by the name of Mevrouw on FSU, she said that at first all seemed fine and she was in fact across from Yoyogi Stadium when the Earthquake hit. I have her permission to post the link to her fascinating on the spot account : http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fsuniverse.net%2Fforum%2Fshowthread.php%3Fp%3D3108283%23post3108283&h=386da

the whole scenario has of course all changed in the intervening time, as the nuclear problems developed, but at first,  it did seem as if Japan would be able to hold the event. That doesn't seem to be sensible any longer and certainly not within the time frame that would be appropriate for the skaters. On paper, Worlds in the Fall in Tokyo must make sense to someone - it doesn't make sense to me.

In my mind, that leaves us with only two real options - cancel the event outright or move it - pronto- somewhere else in the scaled down capacity that the ice-dance.com writer talks about.

It really is time to put the skaters first; give them a definitive answer and let them get on with what they need to do.

 

If you want to help:

Artistry Canada by Amway is matching donations - click on; http://www.amway.ca/Shop/Product/Product.aspx?itemno=110699

Then there are these two among many more:

www.cbc.ca/japanrelief

www.redcross.ca

 


 
Posted By SkatingPj

I have been spending the better part of the last few days reading everything I could online about the tragedy in Japan.. I appreciate the passion of the fans who are eager to support the skaters having a chance to earn and defend World titles. I am on board for this as well - not only for the skaters but to support the Japanese federation but only if it's at all reasonable, safe and possible.I am frustrated though - Worlds in October? This quote is attributed to ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta in an Italian article that I came across yesterday:.http://english.gazzetta.it/More_sports/15-03-2011/three-options-for-the-world-championship-80502610822.shtml I can only believe that this was taken out of context because it doesn't make any sense. I am speaking as a person who has been a skater and working in skating in one capacioty or another for over 25 years. TV and other media people understand what they need to do, skaters know what they need to do same with coaches, event people know what they need to do as do event organizers and I have been in each one of those capacities and a couple at the World or Olympic level. Here's why October doesn't work - the prep work for the new season starts in May-ish - who could possibly expect skaters to train 2 different short programs (1 from the old season's rules and one from the new) even if they all did keep their free programs? Not to mention the fact that the GP starts at the end of that same month. Mind you, am not in charge and truth can be stranger than fiction.I feel the compassion and support as people around the world try and rally and think of ideas to save this event and support the Japanese. To move to another country is impossibly difficult for reasons I have already mentioned. To put it into perspective - a no frills worlds and let's say that it is done wiithout TV or even fans - there are 260 - 280 skaters + another 100 or so officials + at least another 150 team members + then there are about 35 - 40 people who make up the core of the visiting crew including scoring, on ice organization provided by ISU and then ISU media reporting. I haven't even started with the countries'  federation delegations who are in attendance because there are also meetings and decision making that happen at these events. These people are just to make the event happen - they all have to be housed and fed and transported and of course secured. In Vancouver at Worlds in 2001, there were 600 volunteers - that was before 9/11 and the major security protocols that are now in place. At the Olympics, when American VP came to visit - it was with 150 security people in tow. I guess what I am saying is that it is big and necessary business and requires not only human hours but extensive planning.Personally, as Japan is being dealt more and more blows - I don't think any longer that working this problem and trying to get Worlds to happen in the next month or so is the right thing to be doing. There is something about moving it to another country, even if it was possible, that also feels insensitive to me.I am truly sorry fo all concerned: the skaters, the Japanese federation, the organizers and the fans BUT as I have said before: it's only skating and to put it into perspective. Lives have been lost and families have been ripped apart. For many in Japan this is their "new normal" with no possibility of recovery. As sad as I am at thinking there will be no happy or quick ending to the Worlds problem, it feels trite in comparison to the wall of  Japanese sorrow unfolding in front of my eyes on TV.If you want to help - there are lots of ways - here is one place to start to look at options: www.cbc.ca/japanrelief or www.redcross.ca


 
Posted By SkatingPj

 

It has been another emotionally fraught day in skatingland. It started out with another media advisory from the ISU in which it was clear that the world figure skating championships would not be going forward in the alotted time period..

http://www.isu.org/vsite/vcontent/content/transnews/0,10869,4844-128590-19728-18885-312813-3787-4771-layout160-129898-news-item,00.html

On second reading, I realized that it was in fact postponed and not cancelled. The thing that caught my attention was the fact that the ISU Team Trophy, being held in Yokohama in mid-April, was also being postponed. Hmmmmmm.  It started me thinking that if by some miracle the ISU is able to put Worlds into the Team Trophy time slot, then this might be a solution that could 'check off all the boxes'. This idea is of course based on the notion that the nuclear concerns are dealt with and all parties concerned could be in Japan safely. From a logistical standpoint, the plans are already in place so it would be far easier to simply activate them. I know that many fans were thinking that worlds could simply be moved to another city. There are so many layers of planning that in my mind, the only possibilities would be to keep the event where it is or cancel it.

I turned to ISU 1st VP David Dore for his thoughts as he was the person under whom I worked at so many Skate Canada events, including the 2001 World Championships in Vancouver. In our conversation, he reminded me that aside from the logistical considerations like hotels and rinks there are all of the other underpinnings of a successful competition. Where would another country come up with the legion of volunteers required on short notice - it is these wonderful people who manage everything from transportation to security to accreditation to medical to social to rink dtuties like music and announcing and ice captains to the boutique, etc,...it literally takes a village to run a skating competition and a village plus all kinds of 'visiting relatives' to run a Worlds and I have worked at enough of them to be able to comment on this with authority.

In an ideal world, it would be wonderful if Japan could have enough time to sort something out so that, after an appropriate length of time, they could celebrate not only their amazing skaters but the enormous efforts that they have gone to staging a Japanese World Championships. It's not just about money - although that has to be a consideration - it is also about pride and having the opportunity to finish what you started.

I think the clock is ticking, and let's face it, there isn't a lot of time to make this work. I am impressed that the ISU has left the door open by postponing and not cancelling the event; which is to the benefit of everyone including the skaters who have been working so hard all year. David Dore's comments are the basis for my blog on CBC's website today:

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/blogs/pjkwong/2011/03/switching-skating-venues-not-a-likely-option.html

I am sure we will hear something soon - in the meantime - more good thoughts to to our friends in Japan in this challenging time..

 


 


 
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