I have been spending the better part of the last few days reading everything I could online about the tragedy in Japan.. I appreciate the passion of the fans who are eager to support the skaters having a chance to earn and defend World titles. I am on board for this as well – not only for the skaters but to support the Japanese federation but only if it’s at all reasonable, safe and possible. I am frustrated though – Worlds in October? This quote is attributed to ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta in an Italian article that I came across yesterday. I can only believe that this was taken out of context because it doesn’t make any sense.

I am speaking as a person who has been a skater and working in skating in one capacity or another for over 25 years. TV and other media people understand what they need to do, skaters know what they need to do same with coaches, event people know what they need to do as do event organizers and I have been in each one of those capacities and a couple at the World or Olympic level. Here’s why October doesn’t work – the prep work for the new season starts in May-ish – who could possibly expect skaters to train 2 different short programs (1 from the old season’s rules and one from the new) even if they all did keep their free programs? Not to mention the fact that the GP starts at the end of that same month.

Mind you, am not in charge and truth can be stranger than fiction. I feel the compassion and support as people around the world try and rally and think of ideas to save this event and support the Japanese. To move to another country is impossibly difficult for reasons I have already mentioned. To put it into perspective – a no frills worlds and let’s say that it is done wiithout TV or even fans – there are 260 – 280 skaters + another 100 or so officials + at least another 150 team members + then there are about 35 – 40 people who make up the core of the visiting crew including scoring, on ice organization provided by ISU and then ISU media reporting. I haven’t even started with the countries’ federation delegations who are in attendance because there are also meetings and decision making that happen at these events. These people are just to make the event happen – they all have to be housed and fed and transported and of course secured. In Vancouver at Worlds in 2001, there were 600 volunteers – that was before 9/11 and the major security protocols that are now in place. At the Olympics, when American VP came to visit – it was with 150 security people in tow. I guess what I am saying is that it is big and necessary business and requires not only human hours but extensive planning.

Personally, as Japan is being dealt more and more blows – I don’t think any longer that working this problem and trying to get Worlds to happen in the next month or so is the right thing to be doing. There is something about moving it to another country, even if it was possible, that also feels insensitive to me.I am truly sorry fo all concerned: the skaters, the Japanese federation, the organizers and the fans BUT as I have said before: it’s only skating and to put it into perspective. Lives have been lost and families have been ripped apart. For many in Japan this is their “new normal” with no possibility of recovery. As sad as I am at thinking there will be no happy or quick ending to the Worlds problem, it feels trite in comparison to the wall of Japanese sorrow unfolding in front of my eyes on TV.If you want to help – there are lots of ways – here is one place to start to look at options: www.cbc.ca/japanrelief or www.redcross.ca

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