Three Senior members of the Sheffield Organising Committee have just returned from an extremely productive visit to the 2011 ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Bern.
Liz Littler, Chair of the Organising Committee, Ann Findlay, Competition Director, and Keith Horton spent 11 days in Switzerland shadowing both the Bern Organising Committee and the ISU Officials who are responsible for the delivery of the event on behalf of the ISU (Peter Krick, Mario Meinel and their team).The British team were allowed to attend the early morning O.C. meetings which were held every day from the Friday before the start of the competition (21st January) through to the final day of the Championships (Sunday 30th January). They were also able to have complete access to all areas of the Championships, in particular, looking at the structure and set up for the TV and Media including the writing press media centre and completed their stay by holding individual meetings with each O.C. Head of Department before returning to the U.K
Whilst the British team have experience of organising successful ISU Junior Grand Prix’s, there are many areas surrounding the media and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in which the team have not had previous involvement.
Also during the visit, the British O.C. team spent time with three separate British Event Management Companies, all of whom had been shortlisted as part of a NISA tender process to provide services to the forthcoming Sheffield 2012 Championships. NISA was extremely pleased with the caliber of companies who applied to work alongside the O.C. to successfully deliver the Championships. A final decision will be taken on the successful company on 15th February 2011.
On Friday 28th January, a presentation was made to over 150 guests in the Bern Hotel to promote the Sheffield 2012 Championships. The Sheffield 2012 welcome was made by NISA Vice President, Robin Cousins MBE and was followed by individual presentations from Gary Clifton and Wendy Ulyett representing Sheffield City Council and concluded by Alan Seabrook, President of NISA. The NISA delegation was very pleased to see the attendance of the President of the ISU, Ottavio Cinquanta, David Dore, First Vice President of Figure Skating and Fredi Schmid, Director General. Also in the room was the Russian Deputy Minister of Sport who was in attendance at the Championships ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and Lucy Crickmore from UK Sport.
On Sunday 30th Liz, Keith and Ann were honoured to meet with Jeanette Eleanor Altwegg CBE, a former British Ladies Champion originally from Liverpool and now living in Switzerland. Jeanette won the European Championships and the NSA Vandervell Trophy in 1951 and 1952, was World Champion in 1951 and Olympic Gold medalist in 1952.
Keith Horton, Chief Executive of NISA commented:
“The visit to Bern was long and busy but the experience gained was invaluable and will most certainly help the Sheffield O.C. to raise the quality and standard of the Championships. As a group, the O.C. has many innovative ideas, some of which have already been shared with the ISU. I am extremely pleased to confirm that Robin Cousins has agreed to choreograph both the Opening Ceremony and the Closing Gala. Many NISA members will be aware that the Bern Championships were held in a very cold and intimidating arena. The arena was built for ice hockey only and is not heated which was not particularly conducive to enhancing the performances of the skaters nor indeed the Judges and Officials who were often sitting for up to 6 hours in sub zero temperatures despite the provision of Swiss army blankets by the O.C. Everyone who attends Sheffield in 2012 will be given a very warm reception in our heated arena”.
Liz Littler, Chair of the O.C. commented:
“Our work in Bern will allow us to build on previous success in organising ISU Events as NISA moves forward to deliver major ISU Championships with the increased infrastructure and organisational requirements. We are now able to consolidate the knowledge we gained in Tallin and Torino in 2010 and look forward to providing a first class Event”.
Ann Findlay, Competition Director commented:
“We had an intensive but invaluable week in Bern. We are grateful to the ISU and Swiss OC for allowing unrestricted access that will undoubtedly assist us as we now begin a year of hard work and commitment to deliver a successful Europeans 2012. I look forward to being part of this prestigious event.”
Alan Seabrook, President of NISA commented:
“I was very pleased to see the amount of work carried out by the 2012 O.C. during their visit. This was well received by not only the ISU but also Federation Presidents who were in attendance. The Sheffield 2012 O.C. has certainly “raised the bar” and I guess the hard work starts now and NISA are actively looking for volunteers for the Championships”.