I agree - again - with Phaeljones. It does give us the chance to see skaters that did not make it to the Olys but still have a following. It lets us see up and comers and gives some people (such as Mirai and Adam) a chance to redeem themselves perhaps. Maybe the top skaters don't attend but there is a lot of excellent skating still to be seen.
And as always - the plight of the Americans wanting to watch figure skating on television is just wretched. I'm lucky in that I am able to get the Universal channel and I can watch it during the skating season and then cancel it.
Similar, not "same". You need to differ there.As someone already mentioned, it is not exactly so straightforward - a lot of european skaters train in North America. Also, we definitely DO NOT speak similar languages. It is a stretch. Additionally, I do not see how these factors you mentioned would make the Europeans prestigous. Following your logic, Worlds should not be prestigous at all.
If you speak either, German, Russian, French or English you will come very far in most countries. The reasons for that lie in our history here at Europe and I don't think this needs any further explanation.
In Europe our borders are tight (similar to borders of states in the US), you automatically learn the languages from those countries that surround you. It might surprise you, but many Russians speak German - so do us Germans speak either French, Russian or English etc. While not everyone understands everyone and some countries are further away from others - it is a tight community still.
Can you say the same about Asians & Americans? How many speak Mandarin in the US or how many Asians actually English? How long does it take from Vancouver to New York and from there to Tokyo with a stop at SA?
I believe you see the whole thing way too much based on NA, but forget that the 4 CC´s are exactly that. Four Continents and not just one
You are totally right that many skaters do live and practice in the US or Canada due the fantastic sports funding there, yet that doesn't change their origin or the fact that some just skate for a different country, as they couldn't get a blade on the ice in their original home in NA.
Worlds have a huge history btw. Not sure if you know that but the first world championships in FS were held around 1896 in Russia with just four skaters!
That said, worlds don't really had the same status as they do today. I believe it was in the 30´s when New York hosted the first "worlds" outside of Europe, yet again with European winners of Heine, Schäfer and a French pair.
History --> OT
You cant deny the tradition and history European figure skating championships have.
The first 4 CC´s were in 1999 - the first Europeans however in 1891, while just a men´s competition it still was more than 100 years earlier , followed by the ladies and pairs Europeans in the 30´s (they were held separately) and finally the ice dance in the 50´s.
That said, we must of course consider that the first editions were bound to an ISU membership and not the country you came from. That's why also Canadian skaters could take part in European Championships, as funny as it may sound That rule however was changed in 1948, when these skaters had a huge advantage over those from Europe who suffered under the second world war.
I was talking about history, not about "VIP´s".Spanish and Lithuanian history of figure skating is huge? Spain is maybe just starting writing its own (and lets see how it goes in the nearest future). Lithuania - accept of Drobiazko/Vanagas, who did they have exactly?
There is no doubt about it that besides Russia, Italy and Germany (mostly past), US & Canada have the most famous skaters in the world right now + Yuna & Mao ofc. That has nothing to do with history how ever.
If I recall the first FS "competition" happened at the UK in around 1820 with Edinburgh having the first official skating club about 80 years before that. We could even go further back and talk about Switzerland in 3000 BC where the first prove of some type of skating is dated back to.
Where has FS been at that time in Australia, New Zealand or South America & Asia? Pair skating actually was illegal for many years at Japan
While the US had a very famous skater called Haines (invented the sit spin and is labeled as the founder of modern skating) - the other nations of the 4 CC´s just didn't happen.
Rittberger, Salchow, Hayward are all Europeans who invented elements that still exist today. Without the second world war, that dominance of European skating would had kept going on and on most likely.
Dick Button is the first big milestone for NA skating and that was many years after those mentioned earlier. That doesn't make him worth less, no no he made the first double Axel in comp. after all! Still it shows that Europe was ahead and most likely would had kept dominating FS, if the ice rinks wouldn't had been bombed to ruins during the war.
NA sure also had skating before Button, no doubt about that - but it wasn't a serious business at all and not very competitive either. If I am not mistaken then there were just 3 medalist´s until the 30´s that came from a non European country at worlds.
Of course we must factor in, that coming to Europe was not as easy for skaters outside of Europe and who knows - maybe there was some amazing talent somewhere in Philadelphia that just couldn't afford the trip to Stockholm, Vienna or Berlin.
But this we wont ever know sadly, yet it shows the importance of FS between those two continents. Why did it take so long for America to claim an international competition? That's not a coincidence to be honest.
You also need to consider that "Russia" ate many athlete´s for half a century. We have many athletes from the past who did compete for the soviet Union, but had their origins not exactly in Russia.
But even if we would consider that the NA skating is equal to European in history & tradition, then this still doesn't work as a strong argument for 4 CC´s and against Euro´s.
Fact is, that Canada and the US are just two countries of those that can come to the 4 CC´s. If you now compare those two countries to the massive amount of countries in Europe that do have a skating history (again, history not VIP´s), then there cant be any doubt that the 4 CC´s just don't have such a high prestige and worth to the figure skating society as Europeans do.
That doesn't mean they are bad or worthless or whatever you might interpret into my wall of text. I enjoy watching them, but still cant agree with what was said earlier.
I want to point out that this isn't a battle I started and not one I want to fight either. But you cant close your eyes and say that the 4 CC´s are more important or even bigger than Europeans, as that just isn't based on fact´s and truth.
Once the ISU came up with the idea of World Rankings and decided to award World Ranking Points for the European Championships, there HAD to be another championship that covered all the ISU members that weren't part of Europe, so that those members could earn World Ranking points, too. That is the one and ONLY reason why the Four Continents Championships exists!
However, I stand by opinion that Spain does not have history of figure skating and Lithuania not so much either. I beg to differ.
Alex D, thanks for the historical information. Certainly Europe dominated almost completely in skating until after World War II, and even afterward they have continued to have a huge presence. Also, a lot of countries that today barely have an impact in skating were very important before the War, notably Austria and Scandinavia (Ulrich Salchow and Gillis Grafstrom of Sweden, for example, and Karl Schafer of Austria, not to mention Norway's Sonja Henie).
In a way ice hockey shares a similar problem with figure skating; it's considered a niche sport. The NHL has done a lot of questionable things to gain wider appeal and for the most part failed miserably. However one thing they got "almost" exactly right (they should have at least increased the rink to international standards) was creating not only The Winter Classic but also accompanying it with a lead-up reality-tv series involving the teams involved. That kind of thinking outside the box is maybe what is needed here for 4CC. They need to make it special and apart from all the other competitions and not just another event on the calender.
A couple of gonzo suggestions:
(1) In the interests of fairness to both the Americas and Asia/Oceania, all 4CCs should henceforth be held in Hawaii. (Preferably when I am holidaying there.) Sorry, South Africa, you're outta luck. Go play with the Europeans, as Israel does.
(2) Russia, which is both a European and an Asian country, should be allowed to send three skaters/teams per event to 4CCs. (Not the same skaters that they send to Euros, though, it has to be different skaters.) God knows the Russians have enough depth to field good skaters in both Europeans and 4CCs.
Seriously, what I like about 4CCs is that it gives a competition opportunity to skaters who, because of the travel involved, can't get to all the senior internationals that are held in Europe. The European skaters have so many opportunities to compete at a high level close to home. I'd like to see more senior internationals held in 4CC countries, of course, but for now, 4CC helps fill that gap somewhat.