by Ralph Routon
Tokyo has officially withdrawn as host for the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, and the International Skating Union isn't wasting its time looking for other locations.
ISU leaders said today they have sent letters to their member countries' governing bodies, including USA Figure Skating, asking for official applications to host the event in late April or early May. Applications are due at the end of Tuesday.
Wire reports are indicating a decision on site and dates will come as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The event originally was scheduled for this week.
Colorado Springs World Arena already had been offered, along with Lake Placid, N.Y., as a possible site by U.S. Figure Skating. But the easy access of flights in and out of Colorado Springs from east or west would be considered a big edge over Lake Placid, which is in upstate New York's mountains and not close to any major airport.
However, the ISU's requirements are stiff. They begin with the main arena needing a minimum 8,000 capacity. The generally considered capacity of the World Arena is more like 7,500 for ice sports - but with some creative add-ons, including standing-room tickets, 8,000 might be possible. Lake Placid's Olympic arena, now named for 1980 U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks, is in a similar situation with a listed 7,700 capacity.
Even more daunting: The host city/nation/governing body reportedly must provide an estimated $2 million to $3 million in revenue guarantees and ensure that at least 700 hotel rooms would be available during the event.
The economic benefits, however, could be huge. Skating's Worlds would bring contingents from many nations, including athletes, coaches, spectators and media.
Russia already has expressed interest in applying, with Moscow as the possible replacement host.
————-Original post, 6 p.m. Sunday, March 20——————-
Colorado Springs World Arena has been offered as a possible venue for the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, which had been scheduled for this week in Tokyo, Japan, until being postponed after the earthquake, tsunami and resultant crisis in the host country.
An Associated Press report Sunday out of Rome, Italy, home of International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta, says that officials of U.S. Figure Skating have submitted the World Arena and Lake Placid, N.Y., as possible sites for Worlds.
Russia also has offered Moscow, which hosted the event in 2005, as a possible alternative.
Cinquanta emphasized that the governing body still is standing behind Japan as the host. But the Tokyo organizers are expected to inform the ISU on Monday whether they still might be capable of having Worlds there, perhaps in late April or early May.
If Japan backs out, the ISU would consider its options. Given that the United States hosted Worlds just two years ago, in 2009 at Los Angeles, the sport's international leaders might look more favorably on Russia as a replacement site.
Colorado Springs has hosted the World Figure Skating Championships five times, all at the old Broadmoor World Arena (1957, 1959, 1965, 1969 and 1975), until the event grew to the point of requiring much larger capacity than the original World Arena's 3,000 or so seats.
If the Worlds did come to Colorado Springs this year, it would mean that a handful of local skaters would be able to compete on their home ice. Current U.S. men's champion Ryan Bradley, U.S. women's runnerup (and 2010 champion) Rachael Flatt and national pair champions Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin train at the World Arena complex, as does Canadian men's champion Patrick Chan. Chan is considered one of the men's favorites for Worlds.