In regards to USFS, could it be as simple as a "noncompete" that you see in many business situations? The USFS's business is winning medals and keeping high numbers of qualifying spots. If they have someone who they consider a top skater and therefore a threat as a competitor for another country, they probably are going to use everything within their means to make a release difficult. In Matthews case, when she skated with Zavozin, they were two-time medalists at Junior Worlds, gold medalists in JGP's and the final, plus gold medalists at Four Continents, so definitely a threat to US medals if she skated for another country. Up until recently, I believe the ISU also had much stricter rules when it came to changing country representation. I don't remember the specifics for the Matthews/Gislason partnership, but I think she would have been released by the USFS at the end of 2009, although I don't know where they stood on the process of acquiring Canadian citizenship. Based on recent skating headlines, an Azerbaijan citizenship is easier to obtain and then a USFS release isn't even necessary .
I'm not really sure where I stand on the subject, but as someone else pointed out, I also don't know all the specifics behind each situation. If I look at USFS simply as a business entity, then I can understand how they would consider a noncompete for a certain amount of time. That could be 1 - 2 years, again maybe depending on funding or the overall competitive threat that this particular athlete poses. I would think the rule is covered in the bylaws somewhere?? No one but the parties directly involved know what was discussed though and whether they approached USFS officials beforehand to find out what they may be looking at in terms of limitations.
Go Team Abbott
This reminds me of Niklas Hogner SWE, who split with partner Pylkina SWE after competing together for three years. Niklas felt low because he had put a lot of work into pair skating. He wanted a new partner and found Julia Vlassov US, former world junior champion 2006(with Drew Meekins). This article from December 12th 2007 tells how they train together 5-6 hours a day and find it working well. They have submitted an application to the US federation for Julia to compete for Sweden. The goal was to compete in WC in Göteborg 2008.
The US federation said no. I don't know the reason or the background, but I suppose it was a money issue and/or fright for a competing pair. AFAIK neither Julia nor Niklas has found another partner and none of them are now skating competitively? I find this story irritating and a waste of skating skills.
I saw in another thread that a Swedish lady icedancer tries out with a Russian man. Hope it will work well for them.
How hard it must be for a pair/icedance skater to find the right partner.
I think I heard that Julia was skating on cruise ships or Disney but I could be wrong.
Except for the fact that the skaters are not employees of the USFSA so the concept of non compete doesn't really work here. Do skaters sign any contracts with the USFSA? I would have thought that the only "contractual" obligations would be any membership rules and i doubt that they would include non compete clauses/restrcitive covenants.
Originally Posted by Tammi
Not sure if they'd be considered "contracts" or "agreements", but yes, when a Team USA spot is offered, the skaters must sign an acceptance contract. Part of the wording does include that USFS is not obligated to immediately release any skater to another ISU country if that skater competed internationally for the US (that's where I drew the comparison to a business's non-compete). There must be something else as well that details the terms of a release. It may be a following of the ISU guidelines, which I believe before the recent changes, was sitting out of international competition for 2 years.
Originally Posted by antmanb
It is interesting if that clause about release is in the team USA contract now. I saw a team USA contract from 2006 and that clause was not in there. It must have been added after Morgan and Julia were turned down.
Originally Posted by Tammi
Maybe it was in the bylaws back then and since that time, they've moved it to the athletes agreement letter for Team USA. I imagine that it had to have been documented somewhere, otherwise an athlete could have easily disputed the legality of not being released immediately.
Originally Posted by sashaisgreat