ISU Decision on Worlds Expected Soon

Six countries have submitted bids to host this year's World Figure Skating Championships. Bids were received from Russia (Moscow), Canada (Vancouver), the United States (Colorado Springs or Lake Placid), Finland (Turku), Croatia and Austria. 

The host cities for the bids from Croatia and Austria are not known at this time, but ISU president Cinquanta was quoted by the AP saying the Croatia offer is likely Zagreb, while Graz is believed to be Austria's offer.

The ISU council is expected to vote Wednesday or Thursday on the site and determine the dates in late April or early May, the timeframe required by the ISU when it solicited proposals. The ISU Council has 11 members, five from speed skating, five from figure skating, and the ISU president, who only will vote the case of a tie.

Russia was thought to be the leading candidate, even before Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke in favor of the bid Tuesday, saying "this is not a very expensive event and we are capable of taking care of all the expenses."   Russia last hosted worlds in 2005 at the Luzhniki sports complex in central Moscow, but the most likely venue for the championships would be the Megasport arena, which opened in December of 2006 and has a seating capacity of 12,126 for hockey.  The arena is located a few miles north of the city center.

It was speculated that the bid from Finland would be for Helsinki, but instead is for Turku, the fifth largest city in Finland in terms of population.  Turku is the oldest city in Finland, founded in the late 13th century and is located on the southwest coast of Finland on the Baltic sea.

U.S. Figure skating has offered to host the championships in either Colorado Springs or Lake Placid.  Colorado Springs has been the site of several Skate Americas and Four Continent Championships.  Lake Placid was the site of the 2009 Skate America competition and the site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games.  These sites appear to have been offered primarily because of proximity to USOC training centers where inexpensive dormitory-type accommodations are available to control costs.  Neither arena has the 8,000 seat capacity that the ISU requested in its solicitation for bids.

The Skate Canada bid is for Vancouver, the site of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.  In describing the Skate Canada bid, Skate Canada CEO WIlliam Thompson said,  "We were frankly overwhelmed by the support of many of the cities and arenas in Canada who stepped forward to offer their facilities as an option for Skate Canada to submit a bid to host the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, 2011.  After reviewing all of the possibilities, Skate Canada has submitted a bid to the ISU to host the event in Canada , in Vancouver at the PNE’s Pacific Coliseum with a time frame of April 18-24 or May 16-22, 2011.  We appreciate all of the offers that came to us, on very short notice, but the best combination of facility availability, local expertise and transportation systems was Vancouver, and we have provided that option to the ISU for consideration.  We know that other member federations will have also submitted bids, and that the ISU will assess the various options carefully in their deliberations.”

Reflecting the reality of the politics of placing competitions Thompson also said,  “Since we are already preparing to host two other major ISU events in the near future, the ISU Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating, 2011 and the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, 2013, we are not expecting to be awarded the event but did wish to provide the ISU with Vancouver as an option.   We are fully prepared to host this event if the ISU chooses Canada, but have also offered to assist the ISU in any way possible with the planning of the event should the ISU choose another federation to host.”

Little is known of the Croatian and Austrian bids at this time.  Both cities have been the sites of smaller competitions, and are not likely to be serious contenders.  The front runners appear to be Finland and Russia.

Given the support of the Russian government at the highest level, though, best start researching your travel options to Moscow.

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Copyright 2011 by George S. Rossano