ISU rules on reform proposals, awards events

The International Skating Union (ISU) has ruled on a number of reform proposals for sports under its jurisdiction, along with assigning hosts for events in its 2016-17 season.

The ISU held its ordinary congress in Dublin, Ireland at the weekend amid a period in which the position of president Ottavio Cinquanta has come under pressure after the former Italian speed skater put forward a series of proposals to implement major reforms in the sports of figure skating and speed skating.

Cinquanta’s stint at the helm of the ISU was due to end this month but he and his board opted to postpone elections two years ago until 2016, which allowed the 75-year-old to remain in office despite reaching the age limit. Although there were a number of proposals to either change or remove the age limit of ISU office holders and officials, the Congress rejected all proposals in favour to keep the current age limit.

In speed skating, mass starts will be proposed for inclusion in the program of the 2018 Olympic Games, subject to approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The 500 metres for ladies and men at winter Games will be held over one race only. The World Sprint Speed Skating Championships will also have a fixed number of participants of 32 apiece for both ladies and men.

In single, pair skating and ice dance a proposal for the removal of judges’ anonymity was rejected. The scoring system and judging mechanism has been criticised as being overly complicated and open to corruption through the anonymity afforded to judges. The issue was afforded a global spotlight at the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi as Adelina Sotnikova of Russia was the surprising winner of the gold medal, upsetting reigning Olympic gold medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea and Italy’s Carolina Kostner.

Amongst a host of events assigned for the 2016-17 season by the ISU Council, Gangneug in South Korea has been awarded the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships as a test event for the 2018 Olympic Games. The World Figure Skating Championships will be staged in Helsinki, Finland, while the World Synchronised Skating Championships will be held in Colorado Springs in the US.

In speed skating, Gangneug will once again stage the World Single Distances Championships as an Olympic test event, Rotterdam in the Netherlands will host the World Short Track Championships and the World Allround Championships were awarded to Hamar, Norway. The Canadian city of Calgary will host the World Sprint Championships.