International Skating Union (ISU) president Ottavio Cinquanta recently sent a letter to Korea Skating Union (KSU) president Park Sung-in, asking him to persuade reigning world champion Kim Yu-na to compete in the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships next month.
The request places the KSU in a difficult position as Kim has already announced that she will not compete in the event, which is scheduled to be held in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, from Jan. 27 to 30. Kim has decided to stay at her training base in Toronto in order to focus on final preparations for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February.
Kim's management agency IB Sports confirmed her decision. "Participating in the Four Continents competition would cost a whole week, with flying back and forth, adjusting to time zones, and competing," the agency said. "This would be very burdensome for a skater who is preparing for the Olympics coming up in a month."
But the KSU cannot simply disregard a request from the most influential figure in international skating. Cinquanta, a former speed skater, became the president of the ISU in 1994 and has stabilized its finances with aggressive marketing and negotiation skills by securing broadcasting deals. He has also been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1996.
The Four Continents competition was established by the ISU in 1999 for skaters from Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania to match the European Championships. In recent years the ISU has been encouraging skaters to participate in the event in order to boost its stature and prestige.
The KSU, which respects Kim's decision, hopes that the issue will not result in a conflict with Cinquanta and the ISU.