Moscow will host figure skating worlds

The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 11:45 AM

MOSCOW -- Moscow has been chosen as the replacement venue for this year's figure skating world championships, which originally were to be in Tokyo.

The International Skating Union announced Thursday that the championships will be held April 24-May 1 at the Russian capital's Megasport arena.

"In the light of the dramatic situation in Japan, the staging of sporting events becomes relatively secondary and a solution satisfying all involved is extremely difficult," the ISU said in a statement. "Nevertheless, it is in the best interest of the ISU and its members to hold the championships as soon as possible."

The championships were to be held this week in Tokyo, but those plans were canceled in the wake of the recent devastating earthquake and nuclear crisis. The ISU had offered Japan the possibility of hosting worlds in October, but the Japan Skating Federation said last weekend that was not possible and skating officials began searching for an alternate site.

The United States, Canada, Finland, Croatia and Austria all joined Russia in offering to host worlds in either late April or early May. Moscow appeared to be the favorite after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin threw his support behind the bid, saying "this is not a very expensive event and we are capable of taking care of all the expenses." Russia also promised easy access to visas, which often can be difficult to obtain.

"We applaud the Figure Skating Federation of Russia for stepping forward and offering to host the event," Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said. "They will have strong support throughout their country to plan and execute these championships in such a tight timeline."

The announcement pleased skaters, who have been in limbo the last two weeks. All had continued training, but had no idea how to time it so they'd be in peak shape for a worlds that had no date.

"Excited to get back to normal!" U.S. men's bronze medalist Ross Miner posted on Twitter.

"Thank you to everyone who made this possible," American ice dancer Alex Shibutani said on Twitter.

Moscow hosted the skating world championships in 2005, but at a different arena. The Megasport arena has been the site of Cup of Russia, a Grand Prix event, the past three seasons.

© 2011 The Associated Press