This week, skaters from all across America descend on Cleveland to crown new champions in 4 different categories.
Unless you’re a fan like me, you wouldn’t know who’s in contention because most of the big names have pulled out due to injuries.
Kimmie Meissner (shown above), the 2006 ladies world champion, pulled out of Nationals last week. Meissner said she aggravated a hip flexor injury she sustained while running on a treadmill about a week ago. It’s a tough break for Meissner, who struggled during last year’s Nationals, finishing seventh. She received a spot on the world team only because three of the top four skaters at nationals were too young to compete at worlds. She had changed coaches and settings to give her a bit of an edge.
Emily Hughes also pulled out of this week’s Nationals due to an ankle injury. She had finished second at Nationals in 2007. She received a cortisone shot last week in hopes of being able to compete. But she said her ankle was not yet strong enough.
Five-time ice dance champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto will also miss Nationals. Agosto is recovering from a back injury that also forced their withdrawal from the Grand Prix final last month. They hope to compete at Worlds in Los Angeles this coming March.
Now the big story has been the lack of coverage on TV. NBC is in it’s second year of hosting the Figure Skating Championships. Not to say that the coverage lacks depth, but without a strong back up, it’s hard for anyone to find it on the air. Skating fans are better off watching online with Ice Network.com, where you can find all divisions without commercial interruption.
The other is the complex scoring system the International Skating Union developed to replace the dreaded 6.0 system. It’s almost like there is no incentive to win after your short program. If someone has a strong enough lead, then there’s no reason to do the free skate. This problem can also be contributed to figure skating’s downturn.
I’m very concerned that at the rate the sport is going, the only way you’ll be able to hear about figure skating is with the “Ice Capades”.