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Shuffling the Grand Prix deck

2010 Olympics changes ISU's schedule

Skaters will have more time to rest before the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver thanks to changes made to the Grand Prix series schedule.
Skaters will have more time to rest before the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver thanks to changes made to the Grand Prix series schedule. (Getty Images)

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By Laurie Nealin, special to icenetwork.com
(11/30/2007) - If this is Halloween, then we must be at Skate Canada.

For years, Skate Canada has been held at the end of October as the second event of six in the Grand Prix Series. With this week's announcement by the ISU, that will change in 2009 and Grand Prix competitors will be in China on Halloween.

In fact, Skate Canada will be the last event and Skate America, which has traditionally been the first, will be second-to-last in the series in the 2009-10 Olympic season.

According to ISU vice-president David Dore, the order of all the events has been altered so that the series could start one week earlier than usual and the Final could be moved to an earlier date.

Dore, who is the coordinator of the Grand Prix Series, reported it had been a problem in past Olympic seasons that many top skaters did not want to attend the Final because it was too close to the Olympic Games and to the national championships in countries such as Japan and Russia, where those events are held in December.

Once the earlier start was agreed upon, venue availability became an issue, and the events had to be scheduled when a facility could be secured in each of the six Grand Prix host countries.

As a result, France will host the first event, which begins Oct. 15, followed by meets in Russia, China, Japan, the U.S., and Canada in subsequent weeks. The Final -- which by then will be a dual meet for both the junior and senior Grand Prix's top points-getters -- is slated to be held in Japan beginning Dec. 3. That date is 10 days earlier than this season's Final in Turin.

"This change, at the present moment, has only been agreed for the fall of 2009, and has not been discussed for future seasons," Dore wrote in an e-mail. "Such consideration would not come before late 2008, if at all. So, at present, the fall of 2010 would be back to the original schedule."

Dore noted that this season is the last time there will be both a junior and senior Grand Prix Final. Beginning next year, in a country yet to be named, there will be just one Grand Prix Final where both juniors and seniors compete in their respective events in the same place at the same time.