Unlike major events held in North America by "another" skating association, Worlds is up and running, and ready to go. Nobody organizes an International skating event better than the CFSA - even if they did forget about leaving room for the photographers (hope we get some pictures for you).
Skaters have been practicing since last Thursday, and the buzz is that Midori is looking hot and is in good spirits. Reports also have it that Rudy's practices are going well.
Wotzel and Steuer "won" the pairs practice today. Shishkova and Naumov were also looking good. Meno and Sand looked the most like a PAIR team but are at a disadvantage in technical content.
Men's qualifying today. Top 11 in each group make the cut. Eight men from last year have byes to next round, for a total of 30 skaters in the short program, which takes place on Wednesday.
Ladies' qualifying today. Top 12 in each group make the cut. Six Ladies from last year have byes to next round, for a total of 30 skaters in the short program, which takes place on Friday. Mila Kajas (FIN), withdrew prior to the draw for the qualifying rounds. The Finnish skating association had not specified a substitute on its entry papers, and so no skater from Finland will be competing in the ladies event.
If the people fom Economic Development Edmonton think their transparent attempt to wine and dine the media to get good press is going to work, .... they are absolutely right. Some cities and organizing committees view dealing with any groups other than the skaters a burden, others an opportunity. Edmonton is one of the rare cities in the latter group and they are doing a splendid job of it.
Six hours of compulsory dance today, a total of 66 in all; and then the pairs short program in the evening made for a full day.
Some behind the scenes politics involving Kurt Browning skating in the opening ceremony developed. It had been announced that Browning would skate tonight, but last night the ISU put a stop to it due to an ISU rule that states that an ineligble skater cannot give an exhibition in the same rink as the championships. This dissapointed the Canadian fans, many of whom were insulted by the idea that their national hero would not be allowed to skate here, in his own home country, for what they viewed as petty reasons. Browning did appear at the ceremony, in street shoes. He greeted the crowd at the start of the ceremony, and then participated in a duet singing the National Anthem at the end.
Otherwise, the only other people causing any grief in the arena are the TV people, who's idea of the perfect competition is one in which only the skaters and TV cameras are in the arena, the seats are filled with inflatable people, and the commentators judge the event.
Edmonton has its collective underwear in a wad over Kurt Browning not being allowed to skate in the opening ceremony. Mr. Ottavio Cinquanta, President of the ISU, gave a press conference this morning and was grilled mercilessly on the subject by the Canadian press. He said that the rules were clear on the subject and that he had no choice as President of the ISU but to enforce the rule. No waiver process is available within the ISU to have ignored the rule. The locals were not receptive to this argument, and the mehtod in which the ISU made the decision and explained it to the public did not help them in the public relations area, but they seem to be in the right on this one. You also have to wonder why the CFSA let things get this far, and were not aware of the rules since Browning's appearance was planned over a year ago. One aspect of all this that particularly irritates the Canadians is the fact that the Protopopovs gave an exhibition at Europeans in January. According to Mr. Cinquanta the rule in question only applies to "active" ineligible skaters, not former skaters who no longer compete. This is not, however, what the rules say, and had the Protopopovs tried to enter Europeans they would have been excluded as ineligible skaters. So the ISU appears, at least, to be guilty of an embarassing inconsistency in enforcing the rules. At the start of the men's short program today. Mr. Cinquanta was resoundingly boo'd by the audience when introduced at the start of the men's short program, again at the start of the pairs long program (when they also broke out into a chant of "we want Kurt!"), and once more during the pairs awards ceremony. Some of this carried over into the awarding of the gold medal to Elstova and Bushkov. No doubt they were aware of what it was about, but it was in poor taste, nevertheless, to have continued the outburt while the skaters were on the ice.
Kurtgate continues. Mr. Cinquanta did not appear at the OD during the introduction of officials and was boo'd in abstencia. Some of the Edmonton columnists have gone over the top on this; for example, complaining about Robin Cousins skating at Birmingham, which never occured (Robin Cousins choreographed the opening ceremony in Birmingham but did not appear on the ice.). Still, people have some embarassing questions for the ISU that remain unanswered. Why was the ISU executive council not consulted on this first, was the hard line taken in part motivated by "bad blood" between Cinquanta and David Dore, how is it that the Protopopovs got away with it in Sofia, and why has the ISU been so insensitive to the public reaction to the situation?
The trade show here has been turned into a major event of its own. In addition to the usual assortment of vendors there are autograph booths and other events for the public, restaurants and bars, and live music in the evening after the events. The people who organized the "trade show" at San Jose should be required to come here and take notes.
Kurtgate - day 4.
The fans continue to boo during medal ceremonies, and it is becoming an embarassment to the local organizers. Mr. Cinquanta has scheduled a press conference for 12 noon today. It is believed he will announce that Browning will be allowed to skate in the closing ceremony. Score: Edmonton 1, ISU 0.
At the start of the ladies short program Mr Cinquanta was not introduced along with the officials to avoid another public display. As reported above, at noon he announced that Kurt Browning and Kristi Yamaguchi will be permitted to skate in the exhibition on Sunday. The diplomatic solution is that the competition offically ends after the ladies final Saturday night, and thus rule 128 does not apply on Sunday. Finally, some applause for "poor Ottavio" - at the dance final and during the dance medal ceremony.
The final for the 1996/97 Champions Series will be held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Dates remain to be determined. Choices include late in February following Canadian and U.S. Nationals, or late December. There are also rumors that Russia would like a sixth event added to the series to be held in Russia. Where this event would fit into the schedule is a mystery.
The ISU congress scheduled for June in Jerusalem, Israel will instead be held in Davos, Switzerland due to security concerns. There are rumors that several of the major skating nations are manuevering to have Mr. Cinquanta replaced as ISU President.
Worlds wraps today with the ladies long program. Meetings - formal and informal - have been held today and throughout the week by the ISU, coaches, etc. to discuss proposals for the upcoming ISU congress. We will report on these in future issues prior to the ISU congress in June. Tommorrow the Exhibition of Champions, and then several of the skaters fly off to Boston for the Pro-Am on Monday and Tuesday.
10:00am and already most signs the Worlds were here are gone or fast dissappearing. By evening it will only be a memory. According to reports, Midoi Ito has been suffering from anemia, and was hospitalized one day this week.
Return to Title Page