Tracking ISU and U.S. Figure Skating Events, Issues and Governance
Report of the President – 2014 Board of directors and Governing Council Meetings May 2014 – Patricia St. Peter, President
As I approach the end of my final term as president of U.S. Figure Skating, I want to recognize and thank all of our members, clubs, committee chairs, Board of Directors and headquarters staff for the valuable roles you all have played in the success of our skaters, our programs, our sport and our organization. It has been both a pleasure and an honor to serve as your president these past five years, and I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished.
Consistent with the theme of this year’s Governing Council — “Grass Roots to Gold — It Takes a Team” — we have worked together and made great progress in expanding our existing programs, creating and implementing new programs, and organizing and hosting successful major national and international events. We have achieved increased participation in the qualifying competition and test structures, synchronized skating, Theatre On Ice, showcase, solo dance, collegiate skating, the Graduating Seniors and the High School Series programs, the Basic Skills Series and therapeutic skating programs, and National Skating Month. In addition, we have developed and implemented camps for athlete development in all disciplines and webinar education programs for our clubs and officials, and club tool kits for special events. We worked closely with the PSA to develop and implement U.S. Figure Skating’s SafeSport Program, which includes a mandatory education course on abuse for all U.S. Figure Skating member coaches. And we proudly celebrated the successes of Team USA at the Vancouver and Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
In the summer of 2010, we undertook preparation of a four-year business plan to provide clear financial direction and a framework for both current and future financial planning for U.S. Figure Skating. We are now in the third fiscal year of the four-year business plan, and I am extremely pleased to report that for the third straight year, we will achieve a balanced budget and a net positive result at fiscal year-end. This has been accomplished through increased revenue, adoption of a conservative spending policy for income generated by the Development Fund held by the U.S. Figure Skating Foundation, and the fiscal responsibility demonstrated by all in managing expenses in all areas of U.S. Figure Skating. Revenue from sponsorships has significantly increased every year and Executive Director David Raith and Senior Director Ramsey Baker are to be recognized for their excellent work in procuring the increased sponsorships, both in number as well as revenue generated, significantly exceeding the budget projection. We also have received permanent endowments that have funded and will continue to fund the Scholastic Honors Program and the academic scholarships awarded at the U.S. Collegiate Championships, as well as corporate foundation grants that have funded community grass roots skating programs.
Over the past five years, we have hosted two World Synchronized Skating Championships (2010 and 2013), one Four Continents Championships (2012), two Junior Grand Prix Competitions (2010 and 2012), two senior B international com- petitions (2012 and 2013), and in 2016, we have been selected to host the World Figure Skating Championships in Boston. On April 15, U.S. Figure Skating submitted a bid to the ISU to host the 2017 World Synchronized Skating Championships, a decision on which will be made at the ISU Council meeting in mid-June. In 2010 and 2011, we worked together on the RISE film project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the tragic loss of the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating World Team, their family members, and U.S. Figure Skating officials. And on February 17, 2011, more than 50,000 people across the country shared the experience. It was a special evening and brought the skating community together.
Looking ahead, we have begun development of the strategic plan for the next Olympic quadrennium. As part of the planning process, we sent out a survey to all club presidents to seek club input on priority areas that need to be addressed by U.S. Figure Skating. Based upon the feedback we received from the club president surveys, the recommendations made by the Strategic Planning Committee, and the input of the board and Athletes Advisory Committee (AAC) members, priorities and recommended initiatives have been identified, and there will be a presentation of the 2014-18 Strategic Plan Development at each sectional meeting. This will be an opportunity for all delegates to share your ideas regarding priorities and initiatives for the next quadrennium.
On the international level, there has been substantial activity over the past year working with other federation leaders to prepare for the ISU Congress in June. During the 2012 ISU Congress, U.S. Figure Skating made a recommendation that a working group of federations be formed to work with the Council to develop a strategic plan for the ISU. Many other federations — figure and speed — went to the microphones to go on record to state their support for U.S. Figure Skating’s recommendation. The ISU responded that ideas regarding the future of the ISU and the ISU sports can be presented during the Forum to be held at the 2014 Congress.
Beginning last spring, we held informal meetings among interested federations (figure and speed) and, as a result of these discussions, U.S. Figure Skating, in conjunction with Netherlands Figure and Speed, organized a meeting in August in Am- sterdam with leadership from other interested federations (figure and speed) to discuss ideas to present to the ISU Council regarding the topics for the Forum and planning for the future of the ISU and ISU sports. The meeting was very positive and productive, and in September, a joint letter signed by 32 ISU voting members from 22 countries (all members who attended the August 2013 meeting and other members who were unable to attend) was submitted to the ISU Council which set forth the 32 signing members’ proposed topic ideas for the Forum at the 2014 Congress.
In March, the ISU issued Communication No. 1854 announcing that it has selected U.S. Figure Skating (David Raith), a representative from the Russian Skating Federation and a representative from the Japanese Skating Federation to lead the presentation of the topics at the Forum, which will be held on the first day of the ISU Congress in June. As stated in Communication No. 1854, the purpose of the Forum is to present ideas and engage the member federations in discussion on the following three areas:
1) How to develop and improve the participation of the ISU members and their skaters, officials, etc. in the ISU activities;
2) How to improve the interest for the ISU sports and their attractiveness with spectators, sponsors and the media;
3) Discuss possible steps to find the right person (candidates) for the right positions within the ISU bodies regarding the ISU elections to be held in 2016 and 2018. In 2016, the election for a new ISU president will take place.
At the recent World Championships in Tokyo, we organized a planning meeting for the Forum with the leadership of the interested figure skating federations attending Worlds, and a further planning meeting among all ISU members has been scheduled in mid-May.
In addition to U.S. Figure Skating’s leadership role at the Forum, we submitted a critical proposal that will be decided at the ISU Congress regarding anonymity of the judges’ scores. As we previously reported, U.S. Figure Skating, along with Russia and Greece, submitted proposals to eliminate the anonymity of the judges’ scores at ISU Championship events and the Olympic Winter Games. We are working with other figure skating members to pass this proposal, and it is critical that it is passed for the betterment of the sport and its image. Passage of the proposal will need a two-thirds majority vote of the figure skating members.
I am also extremely pleased to report that one of our top officials, Charlie Cyr, has accepted an offer from the ISU to fill the position of Sports Director for Figure Skating. We are thrilled for Charlie personally, and we are confident that Charlie will have a positive influence in the ISU.
I will also take this opportunity to comment on recent reports about what has been labeled as ISU President Cinquanta’s “proposal” to eliminate the short program. Some ask why U.S. Figure Skating has not made a public statement against President Cinquanta’s “proposal” and criticize U.S. Figure Skating for its “silence.” We have not issued a public statement opposing President Cinquanta’s “proposal” because there is no proposal to eliminate the short program that has been submitted for vote at the next ISU Congress. We have confirmed with the ISU that what has been labeled as the ISU President’s “proposal” to eliminate the short program was a statement he made in an internal email he sent to all ISU officeholders to elicit their opinions on a variety of topics. The statements in the ISU President’s email were his personal opinions, and he was seeking comment on them from ISU officeholders. Please be assured that if a proposal to eliminate the short program had been submitted for the 2014 Congress agenda, U.S. Figure Skating would have strongly and vigorously advocated against it.
At the ISU Congress in 2016, there will be an election for a new ISU president, as well as for all Council and Technical Committee members, per the ISU Constitution. U.S. Figure Skating is actively involved in working with other ISU member federations to help identify the best individuals for the future of the ISU and figure skating. As we start the next Olympic quadrennium, it is critical that we work together, both domestically and internationally, in a collaborative and positive man- ner to address the areas where change is needed. Lively debate is good as long as it is based on fact and ideas and opinions are exchanged on a respectful professional level.
In closing, I want to say again what a true honor and privilege it has been to serve you and to work with you. Our continued success as an organization is directly attributable to all of your hard work, your commitment to our skaters, our clubs and our programs, and your continuing efforts to build an energized and positive spirit throughout U.S. Figure Skating. Thank you!