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U.S. Skaters May Have to Pay Their Own Way to World Events

USA Roller Sports Lacks Funds to Foot the Bill

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

U.S. skaters are being warned that they may have to pay their own airfare to two of the year's biggest events: the Inline World Championships in China and the World Games in Germany.

USA Roller Sports has asked the U.S. Olympic Committee for money to cover travel expenses for the events.

But the committee has not been encouraging, said Richard Hawkins, the executive director of USA Roller Sports.

Nothing is certain yet, Hawkins said, but "most likely" skaters will have to pay their own way.

USA Roller Sports is the official governing body for inline speed skating, artistic skating and roller hockey in the United States. It receives a substantial portion of its funding from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Though travel expenses are in doubt for the two World events, they are assured for the third international skating event of the year: the Pan American Championships in Argentina. USA Roller Sports will pay the airfare of skaters competing in the event, Hawkins said.

The organization decided to devote its limited travel budget to the Pan Am Championships because participation in the event is required to be eligible for the Pan American Games, Hawkins said.

"The problem this year is that not only do we have the World Championships to send skaters to, but also the World Games and the Pan Am Championships," he said. "We have two additional events to attend with the same funding we had last year to attend one event."

The International Olympic Committee is encouraging its member to help athletes pay expenses for the World Games, which is an event for sports that are not in the Olympic Games.

Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge even issued a letter recently announcing this request.

But it is not clear whether the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) will come up with the money.

"We received the letter from Jacques Rogge and forwarded it to the USOC with our funding request," Hawkins said. "But we just don't have an answer yet, so we are basing our plans on not receiving the funding."

Regardless of the outcome, skaters competing in the World Games will, at least, be provided with free room and board.

(posted on February 9, 2005)



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