Part of the discussion in the Tonya Harding thread prompted me to start this. I can't recall if it was during fall of '03 or '02 that ABC did a piece on the rise of Japanese figure skating, especially ladies. One of the coaches said he attributed the change to the way the Japanese federation funded training for individual skaters. He said it used to be that a skater had to prove herself in international competition before the federation would provide funds for training. However, several years ago the federation decided to try a "pilot project" in ladies figure skating. The federation changed its approach from what I described above to looking for young skaters with potential--ages 10 or 11--and start funding them early based on what the child could do; evaluation of coaches' comments; the skaters' physical attributes; the physical attributes and background of the parents, ie, if one or both parents had been athletic, even recreationally; and the child's drive, intelligence, ability to concentrate, etc. The coach who spoke about it--it may have been Coach Sato--said he felt this approach gave many more children regardless of financial background the opportunity to excel in figure skating and he attributed this change in funding by the Japanese federation to the high level of skating by Japanese ladies today.
Since Japan's economic system is very similar to that of the US and Canada, I wondered if this might be something the USFSA and/or CFSA should look into, especially given the soaring costs of training an elite skater.
What do others think not only about Japan's approach but about sponsorship, training costs, and the role of the USFSA and/or CFSA in general?