GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Reuters) - The International Skating Union is launching an international team competition with $1 million in prize money to encourage countries to develop top figure skaters in all disciplines, its chief said on Friday.
At a news conference during the world championships in Sweden’s second-largest city, ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta said the ISU had slated the inaugural ISU World Team Trophy for April 16-19, 2009, in Tokyo.
Cinquanta said he hoped countries such as Japan, which is strong in singles but does not boast an international-level pairs team, would “create skaters in all the categories” lest they lose points in the team contest.
The six top-performing nations in the year’s grand prix events and world championships will vie for the trophy, he said, adding that the host country will automatically be included.
Each team of eight will consist of two skaters each in the ladies’ and men’s singles categories, along with one pair and one ice dancing couple.
The first place nation will win $200,000, with the rest of the $1 million handed out on a sliding scale.
Cinquanta also told reporters that the high cost of big competitions and a desire for consistency had the ISU mulling changes to the world championships that could see the event restricted to skaters who have reached a certain standard.
Reporting by Sarah Edmonds, editing by Justin Palmer