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Thread: Age Limits

  1. #1
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Age Limits

    There has been some discussion on this in one of the GP threads so I wanted to get some specific discussion going on this topic.

    I am actually a little bit appalled that some people are in favour of getting rid of the age limits. Placing a child in the spotlight of the Olympics or World Championships is a horrible idea. Children should not be exposed to that kind of pressure as a child and down the road it could have serious and dangerous implications. It is a very slippery slope if age limits are thrown away. Should we have 10 or 11 year olds competing in the senior division? How young is too young?

    There are many stories of senior level athletes burning out after entering into high pressure situations before they are ready. Many develop patterns of destructive behaviour such as; eating disorders, drug use, alcohol abuse, and staying in abusive relationships. Kristie Philips, Nadia Comaneci, Tracey Austin, Jennifer Capriati, and Tracey Wainman are all examples.

    I suggest everyone who thinks age limits should be thrown away should educate themselves on the story of Tracey Wainman and how her life was almost destroyed by the pressure and getting "too much too soon"

    http://www.torontolife.com/features/ice-storm/?pageno=1
    Last edited by i love to skate; 11-23-2009 at 02:49 PM. Reason: spelling

  2. #2
    Custom Title bekalc's Avatar
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    I don't think that anybody is saying that 10 and 11 year olds should be at the Olympics. Some just think that maybe the age rule should be a little relaxed.

    It was ridiculous that Kim and Asada couldn't compete at the Olympics.. They were turning 16 that year, but were three months to young. Michelle Kwan had been a world champion already at their age. (Not to mention Tara) And it doesn't seem like they ended up as stunted human beings. The girls are doing the same difficult jumps etc. Why not let the best compete against the best?

    I think they should make a rule that anyone who turns 13 that year (no more by July) your the same grade you can compete can compete in Juniors. And anyone who medals at Junior Worlds or at the JGPF can compete at the Senior level: The Next Year.

    Plus there can be a narrow window of opportunity. These sports are tough sometimes you can get an athlete who is ready when they are younger but things don't pan out when they are older. If Asada doesn't medal at the Olympics, IT will be a shame because she could have medaled in 2006. People say they don't feel sorry for Yu-na but she could have medaled at the Olympics too.

    IF a skater doesn't have a Junior medal than they can make the age limit 16 by that year. I think that my way works because it ensures that the young skater has already shown that they can actually handle "some" level of international competition before thrusting them on Seniors.

  3. #3
    Gadfly and Bon Vivant Mafke's Avatar
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    AFAICT you don't have the same kind of break between jr and sr talent in the other disciplines, even pairs.

    Maybe two separate ladies competitions is the answer? One for the young hotshots and one for the more mature artistes.

  4. #4
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Thank you for the article about Tracey Wainman.

    However, while reading it I couldn't help feeling that the problem was not that Tracey was allowed to compete at the senior level in competition with older skaters. It was, rather, that they ("they" being her mother, David Dore, and the sports media) pushed her into the spotlight and made such a big whoop about it.

    She shouldn't have been sent to the 1980 Olympics, not because she was too young, but because she did not win the Canadian championship. Twenty-one year old Heather Kemkaran did. Shame on the Canadian Figure Skating Federation for shoving aside the skater that earned the right to represent Canada at the Olympic Games..

    Pushing kids into the spotlight before they are emotionally ready to cope with it -- bad. Allowing them to compete in sports at whatever their level of skill qualifies them for -- not necessarily so bad, it seems to me.

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    Custom Title bekalc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mafke View Post
    AFAICT you don't have the same kind of break between jr and sr talent in the other disciplines, even pairs.

    Maybe two separate ladies competitions is the answer? One for the young hotshots and one for the more mature artistes.
    Why? Age doesn't always ensure someone will be more artistic than someone else.. Yu-na at 15 was more artistic than 19 year old Leonova will ever likely be. I mean I have seen artistry improve with age of course. But being young doesn't mean you can't be artistic. Tell that to Sasha Cohen who was gorgeous at 15. Or tell it to Murakami who is an absolutely lovely skater-even though she's 15.

    Yu-na Kim is a better jumper Murakami-by quite a lot. Even though Murakami is 15. Being younger than Irina didn't make Sasha Cohen a better jumper than Irina. Irina was doing amazing 3/3s at a much older age.

    Its ridiculous to say the older skaters can't be competitive with jumping beans. I mean yes some of the ladies are struggling but that could be just Olympic pressure too. But they are all capable of scoring better than they currently are.

    Imagine if Yu-na Kim, Rochette, Ando, Kostner retire. Mirai never fixes her jumping issues. Mao still struggles with her jumps. Murakami struggles with consistency. And so we get Lepisto, Leonova, and Wagner all fighting for the Senior medals. Wagner isn't exactly attempting lots of triples right now if you look at her protocols. Lepisto-doesn't either and will maybe attempt one 3lutz a competition with doubles. And then we get Leonova who has all the triples but is sloppy with hardly great basics.

    Now offer in Junior we got Polina Shelepen with probably better basics than Leonova doing 7 triple jumps with a 3/3 and a double axel/3toe) Elizaveta with her triple/triples, yes lovely skating. And Adelina with her lovely spins and skating and nice spring on her jumps (once again all the triples)

    Please tell me again why Leonova, Wagner, and Lepisto would be more interesting to watch.
    Last edited by bekalc; 11-23-2009 at 03:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    She shouldn't have been sent to the 1980 Olympics, not because she was too young, but because she did not win the Canadian championship. Twenty-one year old Heather Kemkaran did. Shame on the Canadian Figure Skating Federation for shoving aside the skater that earned the right to represent Canada at the Olympic Games.
    Kemkaran went to the 1980 Olympics. Wainman went to Worlds that year in her place.

    As I understand it, the part of the reasoning was that the age rules were going to be changing and by sending Wainman to Worlds before the rules changed she would be grandfathered in; otherwise she would not have been eligible for 1981 Worlds.

    That might have been part of the reasoning behind the US sending 13-year-old Tara Lipinski to 1996 Worlds before the current age limits came in for the 1997 season. Or the reasoning may have had more to do with not believing that Nicole Bobek, who withdrew from 96 Nationals, would be ready to compete successfully at Worlds.

    Other examples of young skaters replacing older skaters at Worlds in an Olympic year include 14-year-old Elaine Zayak in place of Sandy Lenz in 1980 and 14-year-old Midori Ito in place of Masako Kato in 1984. I don't think beating the age limits was the reasoning in those cases. More likely either the older skaters were not able or not interested to compete at Worlds and were content to end their careers at the Olympics, or the US and Japanese federations decided to share the wealth by giving the older skaters the Olympic reward and sending the younger skater to Worlds to gain experience for the future.

  7. #7
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bekalc View Post
    Wagner isn't exactly attempting lots of triples right now if you look at her protocols. Lepisto-doesn't either and will maybe attempt one 3lutz a competition with doubles. And then we get Leonova who has all the triples but is sloppy with hardly great basics.
    I have issue with your comment about Wagner - she attempts each triple flavor (excepting Axel) at least 1X in her program but gets a ! or e on her Lutz. Tell me how that's not attempting a lot of triples right now? Just because there's no 3/3...

  8. #8
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Pushing kids into the spotlight before they are emotionally ready to cope with it -- bad. Allowing them to compete in sports at whatever their level of skill qualifies them for -- not necessarily so bad, it seems to me.
    How do you distinguish the two though? Just because a child has the skill set doesn't mean that they are capable of handling the pressure, spotlight, and attention. Most of the time, they won't be able to handle it and have injuries or burn out and their lives take a dramatically different path. 16 is a very appropriate age for senior level competitions, IMO.

  9. #9
    Custom Title bekalc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mskater93 View Post
    I have issue with your comment about Wagner - she attempts each triple flavor (excepting Axel) at least 1X in her program but gets a ! or e on her Lutz. Tell me how that's not attempting a lot of triples right now? Just because there's no 3/3...
    Ashley didn't attempt a 3toe at Russia or at NHK.
    Last edited by bekalc; 11-23-2009 at 04:58 PM.

  10. #10
    Gadfly and Bon Vivant Mafke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bekalc View Post
    Why? Age doesn't always ensure someone will be more artistic than someone else.. .
    Okay, let's try two different ladies competitions, segregated by an agregate of weight/age/height (on a two out of three basis).

    Or let's not.

    If anything, CoP as currently practiced would speak against lowering age limits since so many young skaters don't fully rotate their jumps (or have horrible edge issues) Maybe in 2006 Asada would have gotten the benefit of a doubt but no young skater now will........

    Final note: I don't watch ladies anymore because I can't trust my eyes the way I used to under 6.0. Too many jumps that look absolutely fine in real time are downgraded. This means I perceive too large a difference between performance and results or of just blind chance into the results.

    It's not quite as extreme in the bad old days of Janet Lynn and my avatar but it's the same kind of problem. If a viewer who can tell the jumps apart and could often tell underrotated jumps in the past feels alienated and confused, then what will the Sally Housecoats and Joe Poptarts who tune in for the olympics make of current competition? And no, making the audience more 'aware' of the rules doesn't help, I'm aware of them and it doesn't help at all.

  11. #11
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    I think that having the opportunity to compete at a high level at a young age can cut both ways. Yes, some children are abused by adults who should have their best interest at heart. Parents are first in line in terms of responsibilty, but also coaches, skating officials, publicists and the like.

    Who is to blame in the case of Tracey Wainman? ISU rules? Or...

    As far as Dore was concerned, the name of the game was medals. He had no qualms about showing off Wainman: “We’re going to stage manage her entrance,” he told The Globe and Mail. “She will arrive later than the rest of the team and we have arranged for the West German press to meet her at the airport… She will leave the judges talking.”
    On the other hand, look at the girls who lost out on the experience of a lifetime. At the 2008 United States senior championships, the winner was Mirai Nagasu, At 14 she was not eligible to go to Worlds. She may never have another chance.

    Silver went to Rachael Flatt. She was also too young to go to Worlds. Rachael, however, did get another chance in 2009 (and maybe another in 2010), so it worked out OK for her.

    Caroline Zhang was, perhaps, the favorite, based on her accomplishments as a junior. She finished fourth. This was probably the best skating of her career.

    The U.S. world team was Ashley Wagner, third at Nationals, Bebe Liang, fifth at nationals, and Kimmie Meissner, seventh. (Alissa Czsiny finished 9th and did not make the team.) Meissner, Liang, and Wagner all had poor results at Worlds, with the result that the U.S. lost its third spot for the next year's worlds. (This was a double whammy for Caroline Zhang, because she would have been the third team member in 2009.)

    Would a team of Nagasu, Flatt and Zhang have brought home the bacon? There is no way to tell. The ISU age rules said we couldn't send either our number one or our number two skater. Personally, i think they could have handled the pressure just fine, and would have had the time of their young lives.
    Last edited by Mathman; 11-23-2009 at 09:12 PM.

  12. #12
    mylastduchess
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    I'm not exactly sure but isn't the age limit universal in all Olympic Sport? IF it is then FS should follow the guidelines like every other olympic sport

  13. #13
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Would a team of Nagasu, Flatt and Zhang have brought home the bacon? There is no way to tell. The ISU age rules said we couldn't send either our number one or our number two skater. Personally, i think they could have handled the pressure just fine, and would have had the time of their young lives.
    We don't know how they would have placed and we also don't know if the pressure would have made them crumble. Caroline seems to be crumbling now at the age of 16 and another poster stated that Mirai has said in the past that she thinks skating is a burden but continues to do it because she isn't good at anything else. This is a very concerning statement and the two seem to get down on themselves and react negatively so I think it is a good thing they weren't sent to Worlds.

    Skate Canada (formly CFSA) made an extremely poor error in judgement in sending Wainman so young. Skate Canada didn't send Phaneuf when she won Nationals at 15 so they have learned from the past. The young athletes may look all shiny and happy but inside there is a major struggle going on when they have the spotlight on them. Who would have guessed the difficulties that Comaneci, Moceanu, or Capriati faced? They looked like the perfect little girls with perfect little lives - and that is so far from their reality.

    Have you ever read Little Girls in Pretty Boxes? I think every fan of figure skating should read that book. Skaters shouldn't be allowed to perform in seniors until they are sixteen for the same reasoning hockey players aren't allowed into the NHL until the are eighteen. They simply aren't ready to handle what comes with the job.

  14. #14
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mylastduchess View Post
    I'm not exactly sure but isn't the age limit universal in all Olympic Sport? IF it is then FS should follow the guidelines like every other olympic sport
    No, the governing body for each sport sets its own rules. Here are some examples.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...=1006022712821

    I think fencing might have the lowest age limit -- 13.

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    From a purely selfish spectator point of view, I support age limit of 16. Wouldn't even be sad to see it raised to 18. At a senior competition, I want to see ladies/women out there, not girls. If I want to see girls, I'll watch Jr's or the local/ regional competitions. I want to see complete skating packages not just jumping beans, with enough maturity to properly interpret music rather than use it as skating "wallpaper."

    Just my 2 cents.

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