I have been coming under a lot of criticism recently for saying that I do not think that the Grand Prix series is at the same level as what I have termed the “Major Competitions” i.e. the European Championships, the 4 Continents, and the World Championships.

So, I thought I would start a thread to explain what I do not like about the GP Series, and some ideas on how it could be improved.

But, before that, I would like to make clear that I do actually like the GP Series! In fact, I think it is a brilliant concept. It is just that there are some areas that I feel need improved to bring back some of the gloss it has lost in recent years.

Firstly, I would like to see an increase in the number of GP events from the current 6 to 8. Specifically, I would like to see:

2 in North America: USA and Canada
2 in Western Europe: France and Germany
2 in Eastern Europe: Russia and somewhere else
2 in the Far East: Japan and China

I haven’t made a decision on where I think the 2nd Eastern European GP should be. But, perhaps some of the existing competitions (e.g. the Ondrej Nepela Memorial, Tirnavia, Crystal Skate, Golden Spin, Pavel Roman Memorial) could take it in turns to be run to GP rules one year, and then run to their normal rules in the intervening years.

For that matter, given what Kin Yu-Na has done, how about adding Korea into the mix? We could have China and Japan one year; Japan and Korea the next; Korea and China the third; and so on. We could even do the something similar in Western Europe by adding Italy into the mix with France and Germany.

More importantly, though, there needs to be an increase in the number of competitors at each event.

I can understand why the number of competitors was decreased last season. It is much easier for TV companies to fit competitions that are 1hr-1hr15m (for the SP) or 1hr30m (for the FS) into their schedules than if they were longer. And, hence, more sponsors, advertising revenue, etc.

But, what about the spectators rinkside who have actually paid to watch? I feel they are getting really short-changed. Especially when there are so many withdrawals…

Put it like this: is it any wonder that there are often masses of empty seats during the Short Programmes when there are at most 10 competitors and the competitions only last an hour?

I would like to see the GP competitions return to having 12 competitors in EVERY category, be it singles, pairs or ice dance. (So, 3 groups of 4 competitors).

Also, I would like it to be a requirement that the organisers of each event have to have up to 4 local “wildcards” on standby to step in if there are last-minute withdrawals, so that you are assured of getting 12 competitors in each category.

I do like the way that this season the ISU got rid of the option for skaters to do a third GP. It just made things too complicated, with some competitors relying on their results from 2 GP’s, and others taking their best 2 results from 3 GP’s.

Another thing that I feel that the ISU needs to write into the rules is that skaters are banned from competing in consecutive GP’s. I know it does not happen too often that skaters compete on consecutive weekends, but when it does, you can see the affect it has on them. They might be able to get through the Short Programme the second week, but they really struggle with the Free Skate.

But, I do think that it should become compulsory that everybody who enters the GP Series as a regular competitor (as opposed to a wildcard) does 2 GP’s. That way, we would avoid the scenario we had with Kaetlyn Osmond this year, where she won Skate Canada but didn’t have another GP appearance, and so couldn’t get enough points to get into the Finals.

Speaking of the Finals, I think the spectators are getting seriously short-changed with only the top 6 competitors getting into the Finals! Like, that is not even an hour to get through all the Short Programmes!

So, if we had 12 competitors in each of the events, with each of them competing at 2 of the 8 events, that would be (12x8)/2 = 96/2 = 48 competitors in total.

To be honest, I am dithering between having the top 10 go through to the Finals, or having the top 8 go through. 8 would be a better number for keeping to the “4 competitors on the ice during each warm-up” guideline, as well as keeping the length of the competitions down for the TV scheduling. But, 10 would be more value-for-money for the spectators rinkside.

As for letting skaters that are too young for Senior competitions compete, I am of two minds about this. It is nice to see the up-and-coming talent (like Julia Lipnitskaya this year, or Adelina and Liza last year). But at the same time, is it really fair having 14 year-olds competing against 30 year-olds (as sometimes happens)?

Put it like this, I would definitely not agree with having anybody younger than 14 appearing, either as a competitor or as a featured performer in the gala. I’ve nothing against the skills of this age of skaters (just look at what Elena Radionova is doing!), but there is a danger that having such young skaters might attract the wrong sort of people to watch our sport…

But, more of that in my other thread ( http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/showthread.php?39696 )

So, what do other members think of my ideas? Do you disagree with my ideas? Or, do you have other ideas that you think would be good that I have not thought of?