The World Skating Federation, the new group that is trying to break skating from the International Skating Union, earned its first vote of support from a national federation: the United States. The U.S. Figure Skating Association's executive board yesterday announced that it supports the principles of the WSF.

Among the principles championed by the WSF are: athlete and coach representation, geographic representation, ethics and accountability. The endorsement is a good sign for the WSF, which announced its formation last week during the world championships. But the USFSA stopped short of supporting the WSF itself.

"Those principles are pretty universal and we supported them before," said USFSA President Phyllis Howard. "But we do not support that organization."

All eight board members approved the endorsement.

"We are pleased to receive the unanimous endorsement from the USFSA Executive Committee and expect other national figure skating governing bodies will follow suit," WSF acting president Ron Pfenning said. Howard, who will attend ISU Council meetings through today, could not comment on any other developments.

Meantime, Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes did not show up for Champions on Ice rehearsals in Baltimore last night. Hughes, whom promoters have said agreed to a contract to skate with the tour, told reporters on Saturday that she wasn't sure if a deal had been finalized. Photos of Hughes, as well as those of other top skaters, have been used to advertise the tour.

Other skaters, including five-time world champion Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen, were not at the rehearsals, either, but both have committed to performing in the 27-date tour. Kwan was busy doing promotional work and Cohen went home for a couple of days before the start of the tour Friday at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena.

If Hughes decides not to tour with Champions on Ice and instead signs with rival Stars on Ice, she could lose her Olympic eligibility. Hughes, who finished sixth at the world championships, could not be reached yesterday. Her coach, Robin Wagner, had returned home and said, "I'm just sitting tight."