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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Should the rules on age be tightened up?

    Should the ISU and the National Associations tighten up the rules on ages?

    I have been watching figure skating for nearly 10 years now. For most of that time I have been mainly restricted to watching what Eurosport was showing – i.e. the European Championships, the World Championships and the Grand Prix Series.

    Until a few weeks ago, I had never watched a national championship before. So, I was expecting them to be run to the same sort of rules as the likes of the Europeans or the Worlds. But, what I saw at the recent Russian Nationals was not what I was expecting.

    One thing I always liked about the Grand Prix Series is that it gave us a chance to get a preview of some of the young up-and-coming skaters that were currently too young to compete in the main championships. For example, this year there was Julia Lipnitskaya; last year there was Adelina Sotnikova and Liza Tuktamysheva (and Jason Brown in a gala); the year before there was Yuzuru Hanyu.

    But, after watching the 2012/13 Russian Nationals, I have changed my mind completely. Now, I feel the ISU and the National Associations need to tighten up the rules for the ages skaters are allowed to compete in competitions.

    Watching the Russian Nationals was the first time that I felt distinctly uncomfortable while watching figure skating. There were too many youngsters who looked like they should be at Primary School!

    I should warn you, this discussion will mainly be about the female skaters. The simple reason is that although there were male skaters who looked young, they did not look quite as young as their female counterparts.

    The first competition I watched was the Ladies, because I desperately wanted to know how Leonova, Sotnikova and Tuktamysheva got on.

    Now, at the stage I started watching (the morning after the SP), only one person had started uploading routines from the SP to YouTube. But they had only uploaded about half of them (it was most of the top 10 finishers, but with a couple missing). But, I watched the performances they had, as I wanted to try to catch up before the gala.

    When Elena Radionova came out, my mouth dropped. I had heard a lot about Elena, and so knew that she was a brilliant skater, and a real prospect for the future. But, I had never actually seen her before, or even looked her up. So, I never realised that she was as young as 13. Or that she looked more like 10!

    After watching the videos they had, I went hunting for the remaining girls. And after watching the remaining girls, I soon discovered why the first uploader had not uploaded them. With the exception of Elena Radionova (presumably because of her doing so well), the first uploader had skipped all of the really young girls.

    I felt really uneasy watching so many very young girls, especially when they were wearing skimpy outfits. OK, so some of them had their legs and arms fully covered, but the outfits were still totally inappropriate for girls of that age.

    What made matters worse was that the youngest of the girls looked even younger than they were. Just like I have already pointed out about Elena Radionova. Of all the girls that were born in 1999 or 2000, there was only 1 that did actually look her age – all the rest looked a lot younger.

    But, it was in the Pairs competition that I felt the most uncomfortable.

    Now, ever since Zhang Hao retired, I have thought that it looks really strange seeing Zhang Dan and his new partner Peng Cheng together. Like, he is nearly double the size of her, and nearly double the age!

    During the Russian Nationals, we saw some more cases like this where the guy was a lot bigger and older than the girl. But, for me, there was one partnership that I thought looked very strange together. That of Anastasia Gubanova and Alexei Sintsov.

    From looking at him, Sintsov does look quite young, particularly around the face. Maybe 15 or 16 years old. But, Gubanova looks extremely young. To such an extent that she makes Sintsov look like a giant, which he isn’t! She looks about 8!!!

    Curiosity got the better of me, so I went searching to see if I could what ages they were. I couldn’t find out anything about Sintsov. But I found one article about Gubanova ( http://upcomingskaters.blogspot.co.u...a-gubanov.html ). Now, this article was written in May 2012, and, unless there is another skater about with the same name (which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility), it said she was born in December 2002. Which would make her only 10!!!

    Now, I am not sure about the accuracy of that article (or whether it is even about the same girl – they look very different. But, you know how quickly girls can change their appearance!) But, Sintsov’s partner certainly looks extremely young. So, if she is only 10 (or younger), that begs the question: why on earth is a girl that is too young to do Junior competitions being allowed to compete in a Senior competition?!

    Which brings us to another point I wanted to make. Why are we having Junior skaters competing in what is supposed to be a Senior competition? Is it a case of trying to make up the numbers? I would believe that if we were talking about somewhere like Britain, where skating is a VERY minority sport.

    But this is Russia we are talking about. Russia (and the USSR) has long been a power-house of figure skating. For goodness sake, they are one of the most successful nations in skating history. And we are not just talking ancient history – they have been very successful in the recent past too. In the past few years, there seemed to be no shortage of good Russian skaters about. To the extent that we were predicting Russia to start dominating in all categories again.

    So, what has happened? Why are the Russian Nationals full of Junior skaters? Where are all the good Senior skaters?!

    As I said at the start, this was the first National Championship that I have ever watched. So, I am starting to wonder: are all Nationals like this?!

    At the time of the Grand Prix Finals, I intended watching the Junior final as well as the Senior. But, I never got round to it. Now that I have seen just how young Elena Radionova is, I am glad I didn’t. I was expecting most of the skaters in the Junior competitions to be towards the top of the age range. You know, kinda like the Youth Olympics – mainly 14 and 15 year olds.

    You know, I really enjoyed watching the Youth Olympics. Perhaps it was because I had already seen a lot of the top competitors before [in the GP Series for figure skating, and in the World Cup for ski jumping]. Perhaps it was because the competitors were at the older end of the Junior age scale. I don’t know.

    But, what I do know is that I did not enjoy watching children of 12 or 13 skating, even though a lot of them were very good!

    So, I would propose that the ISU and the National Associations should tighten up the rules so that:

    If you are aged between 12 and 15 you compete in Junior championships
    If you are aged 15 or over you compete in Senior championships

    Of course, that would take away the opportunity to see previews of the up-and-coming 14 year olds in the GP Series. But, that is a small sacrifice to make, as it will not be long until they are old enough to compete.

    Also, I do not like the way that the rules are at the minute that to compete in Senior championships you have to be 15 before the start of the July before the season starts.

    The case of Adelina Sotnikova demonstrates perfectly the problems with doing it like this. She was born on the 1st July 1996, the day after the cut off for the 2011/12 season. So, even though she was the Russian Ladies champion in both 2010/11 and 2011/12, she had to wait another year until the 2012/13 season before she could compete in the European and World Championships.

    For me, a much better way of doing it would be to have it so that you have to be 15 on or before the start of the individual competitions, rather than before the start of the season. This is how they do it in Motorcycle racing, and it has worked very well, as this example shows.

    In the Motorcycle Grand Prix paddock, the schedule is that you have Free Practice on the Friday, Qualifying on the Saturday and Racing on the Sunday. You don’t have to take part in the Free Practice Sessions, but it is always beneficial to have as much track time as you can. But, if you want to race, you MUST do qualifying.

    In 2002, the factory Derbi team signed a young up-and-coming rider from Majorca called Jorge Lorenzo to race in the 125GP World Championship. Unfortunately, Jorge had to sit out the first 2 meetings as, at only 14, he was below the age limit of 15. However, his 15th birthday was on the Saturday of the 3rd race meeting – the Spanish GP. So, although he had to sit out Free Practice as he was still underage, he was able to take part in qualifying, and hence the race. He finished the race in 22nd position, and by the end of the season finished 21st in the Championship – ahead of (amongst others) 5 future World Champions.

    As for Jorge’s career, although he never won the 125GP World Championship, he came 4th in 2004. He moved up to the 250GP class in 2005, finishing 5th in his debut year, and World Champion in 2006 and 2007. Jorge then moved into the top MotoGP class in 2008, finishing 4th in the championship in his debut year, 2nd in 2009, World Champion in 2010, 2nd in 2011, and World Champion in 2012!

    So, starting his international career mid-campaign hasn’t done Jorge Lorenzo’s career any harm!

    I cannot see why the same principle cannot be applied in figure skating. This is how it could be done:

    In normal competitions where there is no Preliminary Round, the skater should be 15 on or before the day they do their Short Programme.
    If, however, the skater does have to qualify for the SP, the skater should be 15 on or before the day they take part in the Preliminary Round.

    For Pairs and Ice Dance, it should be the younger member of the partnership that should be 15 on or before the first day they are taking part in the competition.

    If this sort of system had been adopted by the ISU and the National Associations already, then:

    Adelina (July 1996) would have been able to compete in all of the Senior competitions last season;
    Nikol (September 1996) would have been able to compete in all the Senior competitions from the Nebelhorn Trophy onwards;
    Liza (December 1996) would have been able to compete in all the Senior competitions from Russian Nationals onwards.

    It is interesting to note that this system I am proposing would not have made any difference to Julia Lipnitskaya (June 1998) – she would have to wait until the 2013/14 season to compete in Senior competitions.

    So, what do other members think of my ideas? Do you disagree with my ideas? Or, do you have other ideas that you think would be good that I have not thought of?

    CaroLiza_fan

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    Isn't this a common practice? In the United States, seniors, juniors and novices compete (not against each other though) at Nationals: senior, junior and novice medals are awarded. Were all the skaters at Russia's nationals skating for the senior medals?

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    More or less: more is more sequinsgalore's Avatar
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    Your suggestion brings up other complications, as the skaters would be very dependant on the competition schedule. Usually pairs is before singles - in theory you could have twins w/ one competing in pairs and one in singles at Worlds, but because of their birthdates only the singles skater is allowed to compete. That doesn't seem fair. Also, competitions can be moved forward or delayed unexpectantly (e.g. Worlds 2011) which would make it hard for some skaters to plan their season.

    With regards to juniors at Nationals, ISU doesn't govern those comp, so it's up the national feds to decide. Russia at the moment just has so many talented young girls that they have pushed most of the seniors out (remember a few years back after Slutskaya, the Russian ladies were quite abysmal).

    Russia (and Japan) hold senior and junior Nationals at seperate times, so the really talented youngsters are allowed to compete at both. I think it is okay, because it makes the field so much deeper and therefor exciting.

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    I'm not sure exactly what makes you uncomfortable. Is it the skimpy outfits and whether those are age appropriate? If so, I'm 100% with you; it also troubles me seeking a 13 year old with heavy make-up and a skimpy outfit. However, restricting the age of senior competitions seems to not address that particular issue. I don't like that someone who is among the best in the world is not able to compete against the best in the world solely for being too young, like Mao in 2006.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Here are Marina Cherkasova and Sergei Shakhrai winning the bronze medal at 1977 Europeans. (Thanks to Floskate for the upload.)

    The announcer says she's 14, but actually she was 12, and he was 18. She was 138 cm (4 foot 6) and 30 kilos (66 piunds); he was 173 cm (5 foot 6 -- well, at least he wasn't six feet tall. ) This team invented the quadruple twist.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OInB6DYemw

    Both Sonia Henie (1920) and Cellia Colledge (1932) competed at the Olympics at age eleven.

    It's funny how times change. Nowadays we are appalled at tarting up little girls in inappropriate clothing. Back in Sonia Henie's day she had an advantage because she (being a little girl) could skate in short skirts showing her legs, which would have been scandalous for the older ladies.

    I agree with CaroLiza Fan. Why can't the juniors skate in athletic attire. For that matter, why can't seniors? The first rule about clothing in the ISU rule book says, skaters must perform in costumes appropriate to an athletic contest. This rule is violated by ever skater, man, woman, and pair, on the ice.

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    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    I agree with CaroLiza Fan. Why can't the juniors skate in athletic attire. For that matter, why can't seniors? The first rule about clothing in the ISU rule book says, skaters must perform in costumes appropriate to an athletic contest. This rule is violated by ever skater, man, woman, and pair, on the ice.
    That's not true. There's a thread on FSU focusing on skaters who performed in simple, elegant costumes that includes quite a few examples. Here are a couple of relatively recent ones.

    And who gets to define what's appropriate to an athletic event? (Yes, yes, the technical panel ). I think a sequined dress can be very appropriate and certainly aesthetically more pleasing than those hideous things Scott Hamilton wore, or the a gymnast's leotard (so unattractive, even on obviously fit young women). There are plenty of option between that and shredded chiffon, gaudy ornamentation and misused illusion mesh.

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    FYI, it was Zhang Dan who retired, I know it's a bit confusing as Dan is a Western male name, but Dan's name in Chinese is a girl's name!

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    That's not true. There's a thread on FSU focusing on skaters who performed in simple, elegant costumes that includes quite a few examples. Here are a couple of relatively recent ones
    Now that's what I'm talking about! Young Mr. Kozuakk is handsome as he wants to be in his sports attire.

    And who gets to define what's appropriate to an athletic event?
    Well, here are some examples of proper attire in other sports.

    http://www.pspgolf.org/wp-content/up...ckNicklaus.jpg

    http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...B5ewNp9c6jHqAA

    http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...Ak1ufH3BjB5JZA

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLizaFan
    Also, I do not like the way that the rules are at the minute that to compete in Senior championships you have to be 15 before the start of the July before the season starts.

    The case of Adelina Sotnikova demonstrates perfectly the problems with doing it like this. She was born on the 1st July 1996, the day after the cut off for the 2011/12 season. So, even though she was the Russian Ladies champion in both 2010/11 and 2011/12, she had to wait another year until the 2012/13 season before she could compete in the European and World Championships.

    For me, a much better way of doing it would be to have it so that you have to be 15 on or before the start of the individual competitions, rather than before the start of the season. This is how they do it in Motorcycle racing, and it has worked very well, as this example shows.
    I don't think that would work. If a skater's birthday is in November, that skater could be assigned to NHK but would not be allowed to compete at Eric Bombard a week earlier. Another skater could not go to Europeans but could skate at the world championship the next month. Also, the exact dates of some events are not settled far in advance, so it would be hard to make plans, say, a year in advance.

    Whatever date you set as the cutoff, there will always be one skater who just barely makes it and another who just barely doesn't. July 1st is as good as any, IMHO.

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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burntBREAD View Post
    FYI, it was Zhang Dan who retired, I know it's a bit confusing as Dan is a Western male name, but Dan's name in Chinese is a girl's name!
    Ach! I knew I would do that at some stage!

    Sorry about the mix up. I have been getting confused about which was Dan and which was Hao ever since I first saw them all those years ago. So it was inevitable that I would make that mistake on here at some time! Better get it out of the way early on! I suppose it doesn’t help that they have the same surname. At least if the surname was different, then it might help me remember that Dan is the girl and Hao is the fella!

    Quote Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy View Post
    I'm not sure exactly what makes you uncomfortable. Is it the skimpy outfits and whether those are age appropriate? If so, I'm 100% with you; it also troubles me seeking a 13 year old with heavy make-up and a skimpy outfit. However, restricting the age of senior competitions seems to not address that particular issue. I don't like that someone who is among the best in the world is not able to compete against the best in the world solely for being too young, like Mao in 2006.
    Yeah, it was the skimpy outfits that was making me feel uncomfortable. Like, if somebody my age (27) is feeling uneasy watching children that are, at the most, only 15 years younger than me wearing stuff like that, what must older people be thinking?

    You know, there are ways around that problem that can actually look very good. For example, in one of my favourite photos of my favourite female skater (Liza Tuktamysheva), she is on the ice wearing just a T-shirt and a pair of trousers (Here is a link to the photo, as taken from her vKontakte profile: http://cs10027.userapi.com/u38537529...x_b6305cb8.jpg ) Another example is Li Zijun’s current gala costume of a checked shirt and denim shorts (Here is a video of her gala performance at the NHK Trophy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa1fGljdbD4 )

    But, the point I was trying to make is that Junior skaters should be in Junior competitions, and Senior skaters should be in Senior competitions. There should not be an overlap.

    At least that way, you can avoid feeling uncomfortable at the Junior skaters wearing skimpy outfits by just not watching the Junior competitions!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by FSGMT View Post
    Since the 2014-2015 season, the skater must be at least 15 to compete in the GP, too, so we won't see skaters competing the the GP and then at Junior Worlds (like Sotnikova, Liza, Lipnitskaya and 90% Radionova next season), there will be 100% Junior seasons and 100% Senior seasons, since the skaters aren't allowed the compete in both the Senior and the Junior GP anymore...
    But I like the idea of having all the skaters entered in at least one event competing in two events!
    Thank you to “FSGMT” for letting me know in the other thread I started last night ( http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/showthread.php?39697 ) that they are changing the rules in the GP Series so that you do have to be 15 to participate. So, no more overlaps!

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    I think kids competing as seniors is less common in countries where there's a huge pool of older skaters. The young ones just don't make it through the crowd at the top.

    In general, I worry about all the very young skaters (even more so the gymnasts) competing at senior levels. I worry on two grounds: physical damage and inappropriate costumes and music. In terms of the physical demands, junior skaters do fewer jumps and skate shorter programs. The relentless pounding of triple-triples, and the extra hours of training have effects on the body that are by now well documented.
    Well said! I was that busy thinking about how the youngsters looked and how I was feeling, that I never even thought about what the youngsters themselves must be going though physically! I think you have just made an even better case for why Juniors and Seniors should not be competing in the same competition!

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    As for presentation, including costumes and music, was it Liza or Julia whose ensemble last year was just a bunch of green Band-aids? It wasnt even flattering. 't least Tara Lipinski dressed like a youngster and skated to music that didn't pretend to project overly adult emotions.
    As for the costume you are describing, it sounds like the sort of thing that would stick in your mind. So, seeing as it’s not in my mind, that suggests that it must have been Julia, because I hadn’t seen her before until this season. And anyway, if it was Liza, I would definitely have remembered it!

    Talking about “projecting overly adult emotions”, did you notice Elena Radionova acting suggestively in the gala at Russian Nationals?! Totally wrong on so many levels! Mind you, I will forgive her this once as it was SOOOO cute the way she latched onto Elena Ilinyk in the finale, and never left her side! I think Nikita was a bit miffed when “wee Elena” even stood in between him and the older Elena!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    But as a rule, I look at these super-young skaters (especially now when the very difficult jumps are in demand) and worry that I'm watching not a sport but violations of the child labor laws. It makes me squirm with unease and even some guilt.
    I know what you mean! But, that is the way sport seems to be nowadays. Start them young, and get them up to the top as quickly as possible. What happened to having a childhood?

    By the way, has anybody found out what ages Anastasia Gubanova and Alexei Sintsov are? I am still curious as to just how young they are!

    CaroLiza_fan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    That's not true. There's a thread on FSU focusing on skaters who performed in simple, elegant costumes that includes quite a few examples. Here are a couple of relatively recent ones.

    And who gets to define what's appropriate to an athletic event? (Yes, yes, the technical panel ). I think a sequined dress can be very appropriate and certainly aesthetically more pleasing than those hideous things Scott Hamilton wore, or the a gymnast's leotard (so unattractive, even on obviously fit young women). There are plenty of option between that and shredded chiffon, gaudy ornamentation and misused illusion mesh.
    A special citation goes to Buttercup for the splendidly vivid phrase "misused illusion mesh." I have a feeling I'll be calling that phrase to mind many times in my future viewing.

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    I feel the exact opposite to what the OP said. I think the ISU/Federations should have/keep in place the minimum technical requirements and allow any skaters who can achieve that compete at the high level regardless of age. If a young lady or man who is 13 can vie to be on the world or Olympic podium they should be allowed to try.

    In contrast as 25 year old who can't even get the minimum to skate worlds should be forced to compete in a lower level. Senior and junior shouldn't be about age it should be about ability.

    I don't know anything about dance so I won't comment but pairs would have to have different rules about age so 30 year old men aren't skating with 12 year old girls (although sometimes that is the only partner available.) But I do think if some Russian 'junior' teams are good enough to compete at worlds they should be allowed and some who get 12th at Euros and 4CC should be competing with teams more at their level of ability not age.

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    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsfan View Post
    I feel that there is double-standard from the initiator of this thread. When Mao and Kim were not able to compete in 2006 OG due to age limit, there were cries all over the place against the rule. Now someone is saying they need to tighten the rule so no juniors can compete in their own Nationals.
    Unless CaroLiza_fan was among those who complained about the age limits in 2006, I fail to see why her original post in this thread constitutes a double standard. You can agree or disagree with her opinions, but it's not fair to accuse her of something she didn't do (while ignoring the substance of her post).

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    A special citation goes to Buttercup for the splendidly vivid phrase "misused illusion mesh." I have a feeling I'll be calling that phrase to mind many times in my future viewing.
    My pleasure

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post

    I agree with CaroLiza Fan. Why can't the juniors skate in athletic attire. For that matter, why can't seniors? The first rule about clothing in the ISU rule book says, skaters must perform in costumes appropriate to an athletic contest. This rule is violated by ever skater, man, woman, and pair, on the ice.
    Though I agree that alot of the costumes are inappropriate, I would love to see the reaction of the ladies if they were told they could only compete in "athletic" attire. I have first hand experience of competing in this sport for many years, and as much as you may object to these skimpy outfits, most of the girls love their dresses and would be appalled if they were told to wear leggings and training clothes to compete.

    And as for one of the original questions on why these young ladies are competing as seniors and not older ladies it is because they are better especialy in russia in recent years the ladies program has improved exponentially and the younger generations of ladies are therfore far more advanced than the older ones, would you really prefer to watch doronina and petushkova battle it out wth mkarova at russian nats?
    JMO

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post

    I agree with CaroLiza Fan. Why can't the juniors skate in athletic attire. For that matter, why can't seniors? The first rule about clothing in the ISU rule book says, skaters must perform in costumes appropriate to an athletic contest. This rule is violated by ever skater, man, woman, and pair, on the ice.
    Scott Hamilton skated in Speed Skater suits after 1981

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