ISU president proposes sweeping changes for speed and figure skating

International Skating Union (ISU) president Ottavio Cinquanta has put forward a series of proposals to implement major reforms in the sports of figure skating and speed skating.

In a letter to the members of the ISU’s governing council and the chairs of its technical committees, reported by the Chicago Tribune newspaper, Cinquanta outlines proposals he deems to be “personal opinions.” The Italian’s reign as president is due to end after 22 years in 2016 and he has requested that his proposals are given serious consideration as “many of us might conclude their sport career, at least the one with the ISU” at the 2016 Congress.

Cinquanta’s proposals for speed skating revolve around the long track form of the sport, which has been dominated by the Netherlands of late. Cinquanta said the Dutch performance in long track at the Sochi Olympics, where they won 23 of 32 possible medals and eight of 12 possible golds, was “a sign of high concern.”

The ISU president is keen to add a mass start and limit the number of skaters per country in each event to two. He also proposes axing the two longest Olympic long track events, 5,000 metres for women and 10,000 for men, because they are “not attractive distances for the majority of the skaters, TV viewers, etc.”  His revised Olympic program also would eliminate the 1,000 and turn the 500 into a single race rather than the aggregate time of two.

Cinquanta is also seeking to abolish the 1,000 metre races at the Olympics, adding that with these changes there would no longer be a need for the sport’s oldest competition, the World All-Around Championships, or the World Sprint Championships. Finally, he put forward the possibility of changing the track size at the Olympics from 400 to 250 metres because of the cost of building facilities to accommodate the larger rink. “For economical reasons and due to a not encouraging future for speed skating (long track) and short track (in particular money wise), one could imagine a change,” he said.

In figure skating, Cinquanta has called for an end to the short program because “no other sports are based on two segments,” while he would also make singles, pairs, dance and team performances all last the same time. Keeping the judges anonymous so “nobody can detect which score has been decided by which judge” is also part of the proposals as well as simplifying the scoring system to make it more understandable.

Cinquanta added that he feels the proposed changes are “the most important initiatives for the future of the ISU.”