by Alexandra Stevenson
What a shock with the first event providing a big upset! This is the first year the Senior and Junior Grand Prix Finals have been held at the same location. The Seongsa Ice Rink in Goyang City is on the outskirts of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, a long way for non-Asians to travel. However, combining the two events is helpful for those coaches who have pupils at both levels and gives a chance for the juniors to be inspirited by seeing the seniors compete live. It is also less costly for the I.S.U.
The three tiered 3,800 seats of bright yellow, orange, red and gray at the Goyung City rink, many of which have cutout smiles on their backs, were quite adequate for the Junior events for which no Korean qualified. However, they were not enough to meet the demand to see Yu-na Kim, who is now a superstar of immense popularity in her home country. Tickets sold out in the first few minutes of going on sale.
Initially this event was scheduled for an older rink in Seoul with a seating capacity of around 5,000. But a short time before that facility was to hold the Four Continents Championships last February, a fire damaged the roof and Goyang City stepped in to fill the void. Although the roof has been repaired, the organizers have stayed with the Goyang-city owned rink, due, it is believed, to financial reasons. Fortunately, the number of entrants for the Jr. & Sr. Finals is far less than for the Four Continents event and so the very cold practice rink in the basement was not used.
Pre-event practice sessions were closed to the public because instillation work for television coverage was still being finalized. All the toilet facilities were changed to "women". The writer has yet to discover what the men in the audience felt about this situation. This is an 11-building complex, with an Aquatic Center, several theatres, a cultural center, an athletics field, a fountain and an outdoor theatre guarded by 12 life-size white concrete rams and ewes.
For the first time, to comply with the Senior format, the Juniors did not do a compulsory dance. At both levels, skaters qualify by competing in two events earning 15 points for a win, 13 for second, 11 for third and 9 for fourth. There are elaborate tie breakers. A gold and a fourth beats a silver and bronze even though both skaters earn 24 points. A silver and fourth beats two bronzes even though they both get 22. There are several other tie-breakers. If two skaters each win two gold medals, the tie is broken on the sum of their scores for both events and in other ways. A new tie-breaker was added this season as a last resort for the junior contests. The competition with the greater number of entries is ranked higher than that with a lower number. This takes into effect, the fact that some sites are less popular than others, mainly due to the expense of traveling there. Fewer entries may make it possible for a skater to place higher than at another event.
The six countries which stage Senior GPs have been the same since China replaced Germany in 2003 due to television contract issues. The locale within those countries (US, Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan) varies as does the venue for the Final, which, starting in the 2007 season, became open to bids by countries which are not part of the Senior series. The maximum entry at senior level is 12 for singles but has been reduced to 10 for ice dance couples and 8 for pairs. These slots are allocated by the ISU in order of their world rankings, although the host country is permitted their choice of three entries.
But only six entries qualify for the Sr Final. The amount of drop-outs here makes the competition almost farcical and denies the audience their money’s worth. Next season the events will take place earlier and the order has been changed. The series starts in Paris October 15-18, then goes to Russia, China, and Japan. Skate America, venue TBA, will be held November 12-15. Skate Canada, in Kitchener, Ontario, November 19-22, concludes the series. The combined Final will be held in Japan, December 3-6, the City is to be decided.
Four new sites played host this season – Merano, Italy; Madrid, Spain; Gomel, Belarus; and Cape Town, South Africa. The other contests were held in Courchevel, France; Mexico City; Ostrava, the Czech Republic; and Sheffield, England.
PRIZE MONEY EARNED IN FINAL
The Prize money is the same for all four senior categories Men, Ladies, Pairs and Dance so each member of a pair or ice dance couple gets only half that for a singles skater. That prize money comes with strings. If they are asked to skate in the Exhibition Program, they must do so. If they don’t, their prize money is reduced by $5,000. They are also forbidden to do their competitive routine as the exhibition.
1st place $25,000; 2nd place $18,000; 3rd place $12,000; 4th place $6,000; 5th place $4,000; 6th place $3,000
The prize money for Junior finalists is:
|Men and Ladies||Pairs and Dance (per couple)|
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