As well, Lakeside's comments should remind us all that the skating world, even though those who follow it and like to think so, does not live in a vacuum. I have heard similar sentiments more generally expressed many times to believe their legitimacy of heart. But even outside of China, in other countries, I often wonder about some skaters whether they had been born in a different country or under different circumstances whether they would have gone farther, or alternatively would we have never seen their talent at all.
Although I kind of now just take whatever I can get through watching the sport, accepting that life is just like that, every once and a while, I have to wonder why it appears that a federation goes out of its way to make a blunderheaded move, more likely to hurt or punish a skater than help him/her. This is in the case where the skater has made it far enought that his/her talent/potential is undeniable. In the case of Yan, I really feel that here. If China wants to help Yan become better, then he should be advanced. If China doesn't care, and really considers the sport the domain of imperialist pigs, then it can just continue to screw him blue. But going half way with the kid seems kind of strange and a smack-down.
No federation is perfect, and there is politics, even in Japan where most of us would acknowledge that the model is probably the best for getting the best skaters to skate their best. Even here, it is acknowledged when we write of coaches, that their ability to politic affects the scores of the skaters. And the decisions of the federation regarding coaching we (me too) tend to criticize, but, through its faults, it is pretty amazing and fantastic for what it has accomplished, and it has enough integrity to want its skaters to do well at the highest levels.
If Yan was in Japan, he would be moved up on the basis of merit, not held back on the basis of politics. But China is a different place, with different values and priorities. Rightly or wrongly, it is out of that context that Yan has to gain entry into the international forum to compete. The discussion here, coming from both sides, on every aspect has been really informative and wise. But the most important aspect that, with skating and its economic barriers to entry, will always have problems like this. Open discussions are important because they help.
Now, changing gears here, now that it has been confirmed by the publication of the interview with the all-time great Kurt Browning that he was responsible for the choreography of Hanyu's exhibition skate that many people did not like (because it was so much Kurt and not enough Hanyu), now with the skating talent being at such a high level for the elite skaters, it has to be considered as to who will rise next year and who will kind of fall, that the choreography will play a role, not just for the skaters but the choreographers. If one of the top males skaters (who are all changing their choreographers) has a big fall in performance next year, it could be that the choreographer, not the talent of the skater, will be the big factor. (In this regard, I will be most especially interested to see whether Hanyu will get choreography good enough to match his talent and spirit. If Wilson is doing it, this will be his litmus test.)