Yesterday, Phil Hersh reported on Alissa Czisny's Four Continents Championships absence. Hersh, like me, had assumed it was Czisny's choice not to compete at Four Continents. However, he did some research, and found that Czisny had not been asked to participate in the competition.
But I learned Monday that Czisny wanted to compete at Four Continents so badly she began making tentative plans for the trip from her home in Detroit to Colorado Springs after attending a U.S. figure skating seminar called Champs Camp there last August. This was not hubris but a desire to be prepared if she merited a place in the competition. At the end of nationals, she let U.S. figure skating officials know of her feelings.
Imagine Czisny's reaction upon learning the USFS had picked the 3-4 finishers at nationals, Agnes Zawadzki and Caroline Zhang, instead of her.
"I was a little bit shocked," Czisny said Monday by telephone.
So was her coach, Jason Dungjen.
"They never gave me a reason," he said.
So I called Doug Williams, chair of the USFS international committee, to see what the reason could have been.
"We had a thorough committee discussion," Williams said. "We were looking at opportunities for all our ladies and at strategies for Sochi (the 2014 Olympics) and next year's Grand Prix (circuit) selection."
You will notice that was a non-answer answer. Because there could be none for the irrational decision not to let Czisny skate at Four Continents.
So, why would they not send her? It makes absolutely no sense. The journalist in me loves the feel-good story of fourth-place nationals finisher Caroline Zhang winning the bronze medal here, but I am kind of shocked that USFSA would not give a chance for more international competition to Czisny, who they are obviously hoping will finish low enough at worlds to help the US win a third spot in next year's competition. An odd choice.
But even odder, for me, was the choice of US Nationals 13th place finisher Richard Dornbush as the first alternative in the men's competition. Hersh touches on this as well. I guess we'll never truly know what happened in the selection committee but Dornbush ended up finishing in 13th place at Four Continents.
Maybe USFSA is trying to figure out who the contenders will be in 2014, and they are not so sure Czisny and certain other potential male options will be among them. Interesting choices.