"Either we conduct starts like this, or we do nothing"

The International Skating Union (ISU) has decided to host the Grand Prix of Figure Skating despite the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, at each stage of the series, special rules will apply, including those that depend on the measures taken in a particular country.

As originally planned, the episode runs from October 23rd to November 29th. The competition will be hosted by the United States, Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, and the final scheduled for December 10-13 will be held in Beijing. At the same time, the organization of the final start, which is at the same time a test tournament for the 2022 Olympics, will be discussed by the ISU later together with the Chinese authorities. It is emphasized that its terms may also undergo changes.

ISU explained that each of the stages will be held as a national competition. All participants will be divided into three groups. The first will include local figure skaters, the second - those who train in the host country, and the third - athletes from other countries who have received entry permits.

“It is not possible to organize competitions today in the form as before, because some of the athletes will not be able to go anywhere, and there will be many of them. Therefore, either we conduct starts like this, or we do nothing, the choice, as you can see, is small. If the stage in one of the countries is canceled, there will be fewer stages - we considered this issue, "TASS quotes ISU vice-president Alexander Lakernik.

Another change will affect the points for each stage. Each athlete will take part in only one stage, and not in two, as it was before. In this regard, it was decided to abandon the overall standings, and the points will not go to the world ranking. According to Lakernik, the selection criteria for the final will be determined later.

As for the specific rules and restrictions for participants in the competition, the number of officials, as well as financial issues, including the amount of prize money, all these details will be discussed in the near future together with the organizers of the Grand Prix stages.

It is worth noting that the Russian Figure Skating Federation (FFKKR) has also decided on the timing of the test runs. They will take place on September 12-13 at the Moscow Megasport. From September 8, the members of the Russian national team will begin training at the base near Moscow in Novogorsk.

"I want to believe that nothing will change"

In Russia, they reacted positively to the decision to hold the Grand Prix. Many coaches and experts noted the importance of holding international competitions in the current situation, when the previous season turned out to be crumpled due to the outbreak of a pandemic.

“Thank God that the athletes will have competitions, this is the most important thing. And the format ... Well, what to do, the situation dictates its own terms, so like this. At the moment, no one knows where the borders will be opened, for whom. So it is impossible to predict who will participate in what stages, ”- the president of the FFKKR Alexander Gorshkov commented on the ISU decision.

Honored Coach of the USSR Tatyana Tarasova also highlighted the advantages of holding an international tournament. According to her, in any case, the skaters will need to return to their competitive form, as well as evaluate the performances and training of rivals with whom they will meet at the European and World Championships next year.

“It's better than nothing. There is still time, for three months people will train and know that the first stage of the Grand Prix begins then. I think that this is not bad for today's situation, when nothing is happening at all, ”Tarasova emphasized.

The choreographer Ilya Averbukh adheres to a similar position. He noted that the emergence of certainty will facilitate the work of not only athletes, but also their coaches.

“I fully welcome the decision to keep the stages of the Grand Prix. It's great that the guys got an understanding for which tournaments they can start preparing, there was some specifics for the coaches. In my opinion, this is a very reasonable decision. It is clear that the format will not be the same, but it would be much better if we read the message that there will be no tournaments, ”RIA Novosti quoted Averbukh as saying.

For some professionals, the ISU's decision came as a surprise. So, Alexander Zhulin assumed that the first major competition for his wards - the 2020 European champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov - would be the Russian championship. And the mentor of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov Maxim Trankov admitted that many were preparing to cancel the Grand Prix.

“The information has just come, now we will discuss the situation with our coaching staff and agree with the federation whether the guys need to fly to Russia or whether they can perform at the American stage. We will discuss this a little later, there is no answer yet. Now a couple of Tarasov and Morozov are in the USA, "Trankov explained.

The famous coach Alexei Mishin, who had previously actively advocated the return of figure skating to its usual course, joined his colleagues and also expressed his joy at the ISU's decision and even picked up a poetic comparison for him.

“This is joyful. I think that movement is life, and stopping is death. The stages of the Grand Prix are the appearance of the sun in the sky of the world figure skating. I am sure that the skaters will skate well, ”said the specialist.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Mishina's ward, reacted to the news that the Grand Prix would still take place.

“Well, the news came out that the Grand Prix will still be. Actually, so far this is all that is known. I'd like to believe that nothing will change, ”the figure skater wrote on Instagram.

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Posted by Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (@liza_tuktik) Aug 4, 2020 9:33 am PDT

However, some expressed concern about the uncertainty that still exists around the stages. Honored coach of Russia Nina Moser noted that the skaters will have to prepare for the starts, which no one guarantees yet.

“A difficult season that will start with a clean slate. It is unclear how everything will turn out, it is a mystery who and how will gain shape. Whoever falls apart, someone will put themselves in order. Therefore, it is difficult to assess what is happening. Some guess on cards, others on coffee grounds, but I don't guess at all. It's a shame that no one understands what to prepare for, ”Moser complained.