The long discussed Junior edition of the Champions series is planned to begin with the 1997/97 competition season.
During the 1995/96 season the ISU experimented with junior events at the Champions Series, holding a single men's event and a ladies event at two of the series competitions. Following the 95/96 season, the ISU began planning a junior series for the 96/97 season. Financial considerations, most notably the failure to line up a TV contract for the series, however, prevented launching the junior series last season.
In February the ISU Council, meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, committed to the launching of the Junior Series this year. Few details about the series were announced following the council meeting, but at the Champions Series Final at the end of February ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta provided some sketchy information on the new series.
The official name of the series will be the "ISU Junior Series", and like the Champions Series it will consist of 6 competitions and a final. The ISU contribution to the series budget was pegged at US$1,000,000. Unlike the two events held in conjunction with the Champions Series in 95/96, the junior series events and final will be completely separate from the Champions Series.
The series will be for junior skaters, which in the ISU is an age designation only. It is not clear if age eligible skaters who have competed at Senior ISU events will be allowed to compete, although most likely they will. It is unlikely six new events will be added to the competition schedule, but that has not been ruled out. It has also not been decided if the events will be held at completely different sites each year, or whether some type of rotation will be employed. Nevertheless, regardless of what is done with the 6 series events, the series final will, of course, be a new event.
We expect that at least for the first year, 6 currently existing junior competitions will be designated as the series events. If this proves the case, then the events will all be held outside North America, since there are currently no junior international competitions organized in North America.
In regard to the Champions Series itself, there will be a few changes this year. The series will begin a few weeks earlier, and the series final will take place at the end of December - so as not to conflict with the 1998 Winter Olympics in February 1998. The final is tentatively scheduled to be held in Munich, Germany.
The ISU is looking into changing the name of the series. It is thought that the name "ISU Champion Series" is meaningless to the public. The founding countries of the series originally intended to call the series the "Grand Prix", but could not secure the rights to that name in the US, and so chose Champions Series instead.
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