|Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko perform during their ice dance free program at Skate Canada International in Mississauga, Ont., Oct. 30, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
MISSISSAUGA, ONT. - A gold medal at Skate Canada International translates into nearly $20,000 cash.
But the Canadian figure skating CEO William Thompson isn’t anticipating a day where his organization forks out dough to lure more star talent to take part in this country’s Grand Prix stop.
“I don’t see that happening,” he said. “We think it’s helped with the ($180,000) in purse money. We invest a lot in our skaters through coaching and development. We have a contract with our skaters, but it’s not at all about money. It’s about the expectations for what each side will do at an event.
“Paying skaters to appear makes sense at the pro level, but there’s really not a whole lot of extra incentive to turn pro in skating these days. Battle of the Blades is about the only exception.”
Thompson was pleased with the names at this past week’s event at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. Spaniard Javier Fernandez pushed Canadian Patrick Chan for gold, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir put on a show in ice dance, “and the pairs were strong (including world silver medallists Tatiana Volosozhar Maxim Trankov of Russia),” he said.
“The only category that has lagged behind a bit is women’s. The girl who won (Russia’s 14-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamisheva) was outstanding, but it’s been (a problem) around the world with development and I’m not sure why.”
Canada and Russia split the four gold medals at this Grand Prix.
There could be a skating Summit Series on the horizon.
But next year in Windsor, the marketing will aim at the Canada-U.S. rivalry. There’s a good chance, because of proximity, Virtue and Moir will take on training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White across the border from their training grounds.
By then, Skate Canada could have a title sponsor for the Grand Prix and national events. They no longer have a partnership with the Bank of Montreal, which recently signed a deal with the Canadian Hockey League.
“We’re getting close to a number of sponsors,” Thompson said Sunday. “A lot of sponsors put their money into the Vancouver Olympics and there’s clearly been a drop generally for sports and with a weak economy, that didn’t help the situation.
“They are all struggling and being careful where they put their dollars.”