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Thread: Should the rules on age be tightened up?

  1. #31
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    The worst costume I have ever seen was worn by a 14-year-old French skater in the JGP. She is black, and she wore a skin-toned costume, with bright metallic sprinkles in uh, strategic places. It really did look as if she was skating in the altogether.

    BTW, she did get a costume deduction.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    The main question that I have is this. What is the reason for holding junior championships in the first place? Is it for young kids at various ages to have fun?
    First of all, we need to define what we mean by "junior championships."

    The main definition at issue for skating is what happens in international competition sponsored by the ISU.

    The World Junior Championships started in the mid-1970s, at which time I think the upper age limit was 16 and either there was no lower limit or it was younger than 13.

    This was an international competition for talented young skaters to represent their countries internationally.

    The skill level expected is just below that of senior competition. It's an elite developmental event, not a recreational one.


    Within any individual federation, the meanings would be different because the makeup of the skating community is different.

    Some federations might be focused only on producing senior-level champions. All their lower level events would be geared toward narrowing down the field to those with senior championship potential and weeding out all the also-rans. There would be less and less room for skaters of modest talent the closer you get to senior level, no room for late bloomers, no recreational opportunities. The skaters are being trained to do a job (winning medals for the homeland). I suspect that China is probably the best example of this approach today, but the Soviet Union and other eastern bloc nations used to be as well.

    Some federations have few rinks in one or a handful of cities, and few skaters. Most are essentially recreational in the sense that they don't have the resources (ice time, experienced coaches, access to nearby competitions with more advanced skaters) to reach an international/elite level at all, regardless of talent. The federation has no need of domestic qualifying competitions because the numbers are small enough that every single member can sign up for the national championships, which can be completed over the course of a weekend.

    They probably have very few skaters who can do triple jumps. When they do get someone who is especially talented at skating and jumping, and/or who has access to more sophisticated coaching and training in other countries, that skater will dominate at their nationals, often from an early age, and will be sent to internationals as soon as they reach the necessary age limits.

    The division of events at their national competition(s) would probably be largely by age, with overlapping age groups, so that older teens/young adults might be required to compete at junior and then senior level even if they do not have junior- or senior-level skills.

    A slightly larger federation might have a handful of internationally worthy skaters at a time -- if within the same age cohort and discipline they who will fight against each other at their nationals as they rise through the ranks, and by senior level the competition will be between all who meet the minimum age and skill requirements, up to still-competing adults in their 20s or beyond.

    Some small federations might be funded and run entirely by a few wealthy families of talented skaters who are more interested in getting their own kids to international competitions than in developing recreational opportunities for the less talented or less wealthy.

    Some large federations might be similarly aimed at developing elite skaters, with qualifying competitions to narrow down the field to selecting the best representatives for international competition and high-level also-rans who can carry on the traditions as the next generations of coaches and officials. But there would be little welcome for late starters or those without the talent and financial resources to reach high levels. (I would put the USFSA in this category as of the 1970s when I was a late-starting, low-average-talent teen skater with more commitment to school than to training. There was no place for me to compete or participate in other events then so I didn't last long.)

    Some large federations might be focused not only on developing elite skaters to win international medals but also on maintaining an active grassroots participation base of casual and serious recreational skaters as well as more serious competitors than there are international opportunities available for. (I would put the current US program in this category.)

    When there are thousands of skaters involved, covering a wide range of ability, it makes more sense to divide the competitions by skill level first and then if necessary by age afterward.


    Because of the proximity of European nations, there have been international competitions in Europe that function similarly to the larger club competitions in North America, with events at all levels, as well as some that focus specifically on novice and/or junior levels. They may or may not require entrants to be nominated by their federations. And since 1998 there is also a Junior Grand Prix.

    Many of these countries divide their national events by age, and so the ISU's international guidelines also set age limits for senior, junior, and novice. But there is some overlap on either end of the juniors.

    The IOC defines "junior" differently and often purely by age. Many of the sports it governs are racing sports where age and size are more meaningful distinctions than ability to execute specific skills.
    Last edited by gkelly; 01-16-2013 at 06:12 PM.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly
    When there are thousands of skaters involved, covering a wide range of ability, it makes more sense to divide the competitions by skill level first and then if necessary by age afterward.
    In the U.S. are there upper age limits to compete as Intermediate (skill level), Novice, etc. Could you have a Novice competition with promising 11 year olds against not so promising 19 year olds?

    In adult skating, is there anything to prevent an Olympic champion from coming back at age 28 and grabbing up all the medals? (I think Midori Ito has done some adult skating competitions in the last couple of years.)

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    In the U.S. are there upper age limits to compete as Intermediate (skill level), Novice, etc. Could you have a Novice competition with promising 11 year olds against not so promising 19 year olds?
    Currently within the US the only standard-track events that have age limit are juvenile and intermediate. There is no age limit for novice. (Although there was a split between novice A and novice B for a few years in the 1990s.)

    So yes, it would be very possible to have 11-year-olds and 19-year-olds compete against each other in a novice-level competition. I have even known a couple of adults in their late 20s/early 30s who have competed in standard novice-level events.

    In adult skating, is there anything to prevent an Olympic champion from coming back at age 28 and grabbing up all the medals? (I think Midori Ito has done some adult skating competitions in the last couple of years.)
    Adult skating has both "masters" divisions for those who had reached high skill levels before they were adults -- now divided between junior/senior and intermediate/novice within the US -- and pre-bronze, bronze, silver, and gold divisions that are mostly for skaters who started as adults or returned after years away without having reached higher levels as kids.

    Without looking it up, I think the Oberstdorf adult competition Midori competed in has a division between "masters" and "elite masters" (i.e., those with significant high-level accomplishment in standard events)



    Going back to the mid-teens skaters from a US perspective,
    In the US, a 15- or 16-year-old skater might be

    *one of the very best skaters in the world at the time, competing as a senior internationally and contending for medals at the highest level

    *a very good skater, better than the national champions of many other federations, worthy of international assignments -- but with 20 or 30 other girls at the same level across the country, she has to fight for those opportunities and make strategic decisions about whether to compete as a junior or a senior domestically (internationally, the choice of, e.g., JGP vs. senior B assignment may be made strategically by the federation not the skater) -- once she passes the senior test she can't compete juniors within the US again, but she can be assigned to junior internationals as long as she's under the age maximum

    *an above-average skater who has put in the training time since early childhood who wants to make the most of her competitive opportunities -- a trip to sectionals, or Nationals, or possibly even an international if the stars align for her -- before the time comes to dedicate herself to college and adult life -- again she may decide strategically based on the strength of the field in her region whether to compete as a senior, junior, or novice, but by US rules once she passes the test for a given level she can't go back domestically

    *a skater of average ability who has put in the time but whose jumping ability has maxed out at double lutz; at this point, a serious recreational skater; again, she might choose senior, junior, or novice -- her skills are below average for junior or senior, but the fields at club competitions and regionals are smaller

    *a skater who started as a preteen, has average or below-average talent, and/or has less time for training because of where she lives (access to ice time or experienced coaching), how much money her parents are able or willing to spend, how seriously she takes academics or other outside commitments, etc. -- double jumps up to lutz are inconsistent and/or not high quality -- a serious recreational skater at this skill level would compete as an intermediate, one with less time or commitment in Open Juvenile (nonqualifying level in the US; no short program required)

    *a skater who started already in her teens or whose body type and talent level work against advanced skills or who skates only a couple hours a week -- struggles with double jumps or doesn't try them at all -- a purely recreational skater who would compete in nonqualifying competitions (pre-juvenile or below, where the numbers are large enough that at many competitions the events will be divided by age) or in Basic Skills or ISI competitions only

    A skater with good basic skills but less interest or talent for jumps might compete in synchronized skating or ice dance at a high competitive level, or a medium or lower level depending on skills and degree of commitment.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    In the U.S. are there upper age limits to compete as Intermediate (skill level), Novice, etc. Could you have a Novice competition with promising 11 year olds against not so promising 19 year olds?

    In adult skating, is there anything to prevent an Olympic champion from coming back at age 28 and grabbing up all the medals? (I think Midori Ito has done some adult skating competitions in the last couple of years.)
    Juvenile: 14 and under, Intermediate 17 and under by cut off dates.
    As gkelly mentioned Midori has skated at O'dorf in the Elite Masters group which was developed for formerly high level skaters and it was really exciting to have her (the videos circulated all over the adult skating community). Beyond Midori, Craig Joeright, a former national pairs medalist with his wife, competed at US Adult Nationals in Championship Pairs for several years with an adult-start skater. Of course, he was like a man among boys, but it was certainly fun to watch). There is nothing to stop a former Olympic champion from coming back to snap up all the medals, but a lot of them don't see the adult skating community as "real skating" and avoid it. There was talk that Lloyd Eisler was going to compete in Championship pairs a couple years back, but he got injured by training only sporadically, and hasn't rumbled about it again...

  6. #36
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    Luc Bradet, 1997 Canadian pairs champion with Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon, competed in adult singles at the Canadian adult national championships. I think it was in 2010.

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    How many times have we seen a great skater in their mid-teems have great success and then they grow a few inches and are flummoxed. Marai Negasu comes to mind, Oksana Baiul, and there are a host of others. I would like to see the rules tightened up. Bodies are still developing in the early teens and the constant pounding their knees and backs take before they ARE fully developed hurts them in later years and possibly their later life.

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    What are reasons for "tightening up" the age rules, and what kind of tightening is wanted?

    Is the idea to

    lessen injuries to children

    lessen emotional pressure on children competing at the highest level

    protect audiences from getting attached to promising skaters who don't live up to their promise

    present an image of maturity in the highest level of the sport

    protect audiences from watching children performing and dressing as if they are adults

    protect mature cmopetitors from losing to immature "jumping beans"

    simplify rules to be more black-and-white with less room for confusion

    What else?

    Depending what the goals are, the specific rules would be different.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post
    The worst costume I have ever seen was worn by a 14-year-old French skater in the JGP. She is black, and she wore a skin-toned costume, with bright metallic sprinkles in uh, strategic places. It really did look as if she was skating in the altogether.
    I had to go figure out who you were talking about.. and yeah, it is really bad! If it was just a different color it might come across much differently..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNSlAW7tHIs

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by noskates View Post
    How many times have we seen a great skater in their mid-teems have great success and then they grow a few inches and are flummoxed. Marai Negasu comes to mind, Oksana Baiul, and there are a host of others. I would like to see the rules tightened up. Bodies are still developing in the early teens and the constant pounding their knees and backs take before they ARE fully developed hurts them in later years and possibly their later life.
    Regardless of what the age rules say these children will still do the same technical elements whatever level they compete at, have you seen junior worlds for the past couple of years? those ladies are doing way more technically than the seniors by and large. If the age rules prevent them from competing as seniors they will just be juniors doing triple triples. If they were to learn the difficult jumps after they were done growing they would never learn any of them. True alot of phenoms lose their jumps, but not all and many get them back, Mirai got hers back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sarahspins View Post
    I had to go figure out who you were talking about.. and yeah, it is really bad! If it was just a different color it might come across much differently..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNSlAW7tHIs
    Oh, my word--and they even made her skate to music containing jungle drums. Could anything be more insulting?

    GKelly, your list is excellent. The points heading my list would of course also be protecting the children's physical and mental health. Are our lives really so improved by watching a twelve-year-old do triple-triples that we need a constant supply of children risking their futures for our benefit? I think not.
    Last edited by Olympia; 01-17-2013 at 07:53 AM.

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    It is perplexing how young Narumi Takahashi always looks...
    But come on. If we are to restrict age, why don't we restrict based on "mental age"? Get an evaluation done...If their instagram selfies are to go by, something tells me some of the Russian juniors are more "mature" than Mao Asada, depending on how you define that word.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    GKelly, your list is excellent. The points heading my list would of course also be protecting the children's physical and mental health. Are our lives really so improved by watching a twelve-year-old do triple-triples that we need a constant supply of children risking their futures for our benefit? I think not.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    GKelly, your list is excellent. The points heading my list would of course also be protecting the children's physical and mental health. Are our lives really so improved by watching a twelve-year-old do triple-triples that we need a constant supply of children risking their futures for our benefit? I think not.
    The thing is, forbidding younger teenagers from competing in seniors will prevent audiences who only watch seniors from having to watch those younger kids, and it will prevent young teens from having to carry the expectations of their federations and national media and national audiences on their shoulders at Worlds and Olympics.

    But age limits alone could easily make the injury problem worse under the current rules for program content (and the realities of female bodies).


    Junior ladies have been allowed to do triple-triples in the short program for close to a decade already, junior men long before that. They have always been allowed to do triple-triples in the long program (12-year-old Midori Ito did one back in 1982; 13-year-old Grzegorz Filipowski was the first "man" to do a 3-3 combo 1980) and are currently allowed to do the same numbers and kinds of jumps as seniors in the free program, but they have less time to do them. Doing the same number of jumps in less time is harder on the body than allowing some short rests for the muscles to recover.

    Girls' strength-to-weight ratio tends to peak in the early teens. Those are prime jumping years. It's not rules that result in young teens doing harder jump content than older teens and adults, and then often losing the ability to do some of those jumps even without major injuries -- it's physiology.

    If you watch from the bottom up, most skaters will never do all the triples, or any triple-triple combination. Many skaters who compete as juniors will never reach senior level because their jump skills will max out with double jumps and maybe double axel, or even regress when they get too big to jump high and rotate quickly. Many will get surpassed by younger skaters from their own countries with greater talented for basic skating as well as for jumping. Injuries will claim some (the injury rates will be higher with harder jump content, but there will always be some), and financial limitations or outside interests will claim others.

    But of those who are among the most talented and who are going to make it to the top, if they're going to do very difficult jump content, they're probably going to be doing it by the time they're 15. Girls who master top jump content are just a tiny minority of all girls who take up the sport seriously as kids, but those who learn their hardest content after their bodies have finished maturing are the exception even within the exception, not the norm.

    If you watch from the top down, focusing on major championships, you'll see a wide range of jump content at both junior and senior levels, but the hardest jumps from the very top jumpers will often be more common among juniors than seniors, and among the younger seniors (mid teens) than the older ones. That's just the nature of the sport, and the nature of women's bodies.

    For example, at this year's senior Grand Prix Final, there were two triple-triples attempted in the long program, both by teenagers who are still age eligible for juniors, although I think Gao would be too old next year. In the Junior Grand Prix Final, there were five 3-3s attempted.

    It is already par for the course that the top juniors do harder jump content than the top seniors -- on average depending how you define "top."

    Some of those girls who are doing 3-3s in juniors now will lose those jumps by the time they're 18, and not only because of injuries. Some may lose the ability to rotate all their triples at all, although the most fortunate will improve their technique so as to improve the quality of their jumps.

    If you just draw a cutoff at age 15 or 16 or 18 and forbid skaters from competing senior before that age, then there will be more difficult jump content in the junior ladies event than in senior ladies. The girls will still be risking injury, just not on the senior world stage. Observers who look only at jump content will think that the juniors are "better" than the seniors. Fans who follow the juniors looking for the next best thing or because they enjoy the greater jump pyrotechnics will suffer disappointment when the talented juniors don't shine in seniors or don't even make it that far. Fans who only want to watch the seniors will rarely see the hardest jump content -- but they may not miss it if that's not the main reason why they like to watch ladies' figure skating.

    If you draw an age cutoff and also forbid juniors below that age from performing the hardest jumps in competition, then there will be fewer difficult jumping feats performed in any ladies' competition. Either the young teens who are at their jumping peak will work on the hard jumps in practice (learning them now while they know they can) but leave them out of their competitive programs until they reach seniors, or they will wait to work on them until they reach senior age, by which time in most cases it will be too late for their bodies to learn those hard tricks. So either they will still risk injury in early teens -- maybe not as much because the number of repetitions will be lower if they're not using the skills in competition -- or they will risk injury in their later teens when they try to learn new skills that are harder to learn at that age.

    On another note, flexibility moves are another potential source of injury where it's easier to learn the skills the earlier you start. Older skaters may have more wisdom to listen to their bodies and work on stretching more prudently, but you can't suddenly decide at age 18 that you want to stretch in ways you never tried before and expect the same kind of success.

    So if the goal is to prevent injuries, we need to consider other kinds of rule changes that might encourage wise training before the mid teens. Better education of coaches is probably even more valuable than rule changes.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarahspins View Post
    I had to go figure out who you were talking about.. and yeah, it is really bad! If it was just a different color it might come across much differently..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNSlAW7tHIs
    Well...she is completely covered from head to toe, with not an inch of skin exposed anywhere. Long sleeves, collar up to her neck, leggings down to her boots. So, yes, I guess its the color that is at fault.

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