March 21, 2011: The ISU announced today that the Japan Skating Federation has informed the ISU they will be unable to host the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships in Japan this year. In Addition JSF has agreed to postpone the Word Team Trophy competition that was to be held in Yokohama this April until 2012, at a time and place to be agreed upon with the ISU.
While the decision whether to attempt to hold 2011 Worlds in Japan later this year was under consideration, several ISU member federation had made offers to the ISU to host the Championships later this spring. The ISU is now actively soliciting proposals from its member federations to host the Championships. A letter from the ISU to the member federations sent under the signature of ISU Director General Ferdi Schmidt states the following:
ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We refer to our Statement released today advising that the 2011 ISU World Figure Skating Championships cannot be held in Japan.
Some Figure Skating Members have spontaneously informed us that they would be available to host this Championships if not held in Japan. Some other Members may now also be interested and available to host this Event.
Attached please find the Questionnaire for applications for ISU Championships that we ask the interested Members to submit to the ISU Secretariat by e-mail or fax latest by Tuesday evening (Swiss time), March 22, 2011.
Some details might not yet be available so we ask you to complete the questionnaire with all information available at this time. If necessary, it can then subsequently be completed as soon as possible.
However, when returning the questionnaire we kindly ask you to confirm in your cover note that you would be able to comply with the following key conditions:
1. Available dates during April/May starting, if possible, with the week of April 18, 2011 onwards
2. Availability of an ice rink/arena with a minimum spectators capacity of 8000 seats. The arena must be available from the Thursday early morning through Sunday late evening of the following week.
3. Availability of a practice rink from Friday early morning through Friday late evening of the following week.
4. Availability of about 700 hotel rooms.
5. A TV production for the entire Event and availability of the signal free of charge to the ISU and its TV right holders.
Depending on the applications received, the ISU will be in touch with the Members concerned for all necessary follow-up questions and clarifications and the ISU Council is expected to take a decision a few days after March 22, 2011.
We thank you for your cooperation.
With kind regards
ISU Director General
Member federation have until Tuesday evening (Swiss time) to send their proposals to ISU Headquarters in Laussane (mid-morning Tuesday in North America). ISU president Cinquanta was quoted in the Italian press saying "We'll see what comes in and then we hope to have an announcement by Friday."
Of the several conditions, item 5 may be the most stressing, as putting together a TV contract on two days notice will be challenging. Neither Lake Placid nor Colorado Springs have 8,000 seat arenas, but as the World Arena is close, that might be overlooked. Finding 700 hotel rooms in the Colorado Springs area will prove easier than Lake Placid. Of course, U.S. Figure Skating is free to propose other arenas, though a difficulty for the larger arenas is that hockey season runs through mid-April, followed by post season play through June.
An outside-the-box location for Worlds to be held on short notice in the United States, would be Ontario, California, the site of the recent 2011 National Synchronized Skating Championships and location for the 2011 Skate America competition next October. Our own personal bias in favor of this notwithstanding, it is a compelling option. The Arena has near 10,000 seats and the resident hockey team ends their season the first week of April. Arena management has confirmed the facility is available in mid-April, there are many hotels near the arena, some within walking distance. A major airport just a few miles away. Practice ice could be held at a local rink a few miles away. The only real impediment is the difficulty facing U.S. Figure Skating in coming up with a TV contract nearly instantly. This approach would also require moving Skate America since marketing that competition after holding Worlds a few months earlier would by difficult to say the least, but planning for Skate America has hardly begun and a change of course there would not be excessively difficult -- for example sending it back to Lake Placid.
So there you have it for now. Proposals for a Championships some time after April 17 are in the works. Look for an ISU announcement of some sort on or around Friday, March 25.
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Copyright 2011 by George S. Rossano