Still tickets left to see events

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

The jury is still out on a sellout at London's Canadian figure skating championships.

As of yesterday morning, there were still a few thousand tickets available for the four final days of competition at the John Labatt Centre.

But Skate Canada chief executive Pam Coburn said the event was just 200 tickets from surpassing its total ticket sales at last year's nationals in Edmonton at the Rexall Place.

"We've just released some more tickets for sale, there's now 160 more seats in the building (increasing the former JLC capacity of 8,018 for figure skating events)," Coburn said. "We're pleased with sales so far but you always like to have more -- the skaters respond to the extra people in the building."

Based on Skate Canada numbers, the Thursday night program featuring the senior women's and senior pairs short is three-quarters full, the Friday night senior men's short and senior women's free is running at 79 per cent capacity, the Saturday evening schedule (senior men's free, senior pair free and senior original dance) is 88 per cent full and the Sunday afternoon Parade of Champions is at 82 per cent.

There will be national television coverage of the event on TSN and CTV during all four sessions.

The total attendance for yesterday's qualifying sessions was 3,588 -- well above expectations.

"You always go into this event with a hope of breaking even and the more tickets you sell, the better chance you have," Coburn said.

"There's a lot of nominal costs like the building rental and we try to provide things like a lounge for the skaters and transportation.

"The host section (the Western Ontario section) will also get money. It's a set amount that gets approved by the board of directors."

The new judging system appeared to take more time to process a skater's marks, some fans in the stands observed. Because it was used for the first time at nationals yesterday, the judges and referees were meticulous in their approach to avoid mistakes.

It remains to be seen if it will be faster as the week progresses.

"It's really about the same amount of time, but there's no one reading out marks like in the old 6.0 system," Coburn said.

The ice at the John Labatt Centre received verbal applause from defending senior women's champion Cynthia Phaneuf.

"(Sunday) in practice, it was hard but this time, it was perfect," she said.

The test for chief operator Art Johnston and his JLC staff will be to maintain the quality of the surface through the weekend.


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