I was reading the proposals for the ISU Congress, and whilst I agree that there needs to be some adjustments to the age ranges, I feel that the proposals are going the totally wrong direction.
Instead of making increasing the age that skaters can continue to compete at Junior level, they should be decreasing it!
I have never thought it was fair that we have 13 year old children and 19 year old adults competing in the same competition.
Like you only have to look at the 2013 Junior Worlds. The champion in the girls category was 14 year old Elena Radionova. That’s fine. You would expect the top competitors in Junior Worlds to be around 14 or 15 years old.
But in 4th place, and leader after the SP, was Samantha Cesario, who was 19 years old!!! For goodness sake, at that age she had been eligible for senior competitions for over FOUR years!!! Why was she still doing Juniors?! (Well, we all know why – because it is too competitive to get into the Senior American Ladies team). Unsurprisingly, Samantha was the oldest competitor. And she looked it too…
Incidentally, the youngest competitor was Jenni Saarinen, who was only 13 years old.
An age range of 6 years is a lot in a Junior competition. Like, Saarinen was only 2/3rds of Cesario’s age.
Better than that, Cesario started skating in 1999, THE YEAR RADIONOVA AND SAARINEN WERE BORN!!! Radionova started skating in 2002 (!), while Saarinen started in 2004. So, Cesario had a whole 5 years more experience than Saarinen.
Surely this is not fair.
I know in Senior competitions, we have skaters that have been skating for very different lengths of time. (Take this year’s NHK podium: 1st Mao Asada – 18 years; 2nd Elena Radionova – 11 years; 3rd Akiko Suzuki – 21 years). But, by this stage they are usually at a similar level. Surely the same cannot be said when we are dealing with VERY young skaters compared to those in their late teens.
I am not a fan of football. But, I do think that they have got the right idea when it comes to youth competitions. Instead of just having “Junior” and “Senior” levels, they have a series of age groups leading up to Senior level.
And I feel that this model could work very well for figure skating.
Below is a table of how the different age groups would be made up:
Age Under 15 International
Under 17 Youth Olympic
Under 19 Under 21 Universiade Senior Freq. Even Years Odd Years Odd Years Leap Years Odd Years Even Years Odd Years Every Year 40 39 ✔ 38 ✔ 37 ✔ 36 ✔ 35 ✔ 34 ✔ 33 ✔ 32 ✔ 31 ✔ 30 ✔ 29 ✔ 28 ✔ ✔ 27 ✔ ✔ 26 ✔ ✔ 25 ✔ ✔ 24 ✔ ✔ 23 ✔ ✔ 22 ✔ ✔ 21 ✔ ✔ 20 ✔ ✔ ✔ 19 ✔ ✔ ✔ 18 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 17 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 16 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 15 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 14 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 13 ✔ ✔ ✔ 12 ✔ ✔ 11 ✔ 10
Of course, I am not expecting skaters to continue competing until they are 40. I just continued my table that far to allow for the fact that Fumie Suguri will be 37 by the time Pyeongchang comes along…
I realise that asking the ISU to run FIVE World Championships, and at least 1 extra championship at a Games event, every year would be far too much. Just imagine the amount of organisation that would involve!
In football, youth tournaments are held every 2 years, so I feel that this would work in figure skating as well.
As it is, the ICG and Universiade are held every 2 years. So, if we alternated the U-15 World Championships with the ICG, and the U-19 World Championships with the Universiade, it would mean that these age groups would have major championships every year, but there would not be as much extra organising to do.
Similarly, we could alternate the U-17 and U-19 World Championships with the Youth Olympics. The problem is that the Youth Olympics are held every 4 years rather than every 2. So, that would mean there would be a year without a major championships for these age groups.
HOWEVER, the years off for the U-17 and U-19 Worlds would be Olympic years. So, I don’t think anybody would begrudge the ISU for not holding the full compliment of youth Championships these years. Let’s face it, they would have enough on their plate!
Here is a table showing how my proposals would work over the next 2 Olympic cycles:
ICG U-17 U-19 Universiade Senior 2016 U-15 YOG YOG U-21 Senior 2017 ICG U-17 U-19 Universiade Senior 2018 U-15 U-21 Senior Olympics 2019 ICG U-17 U-19 Universiade Senior 2020 U-15 YOG YOG U-21 Senior 2021 ICG U-17 U-19 Universiade Senior 2022
U-15 U-21 Senior Olympics
Now, I realise that, if the ISU is broke as we suspect, then this will never get off the ground. Because it costs a lot of money to hold championships.
But, in an ideal world, I think this model would be a good way to make things fairer for the competitors.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think? Does anybody have any suggestions that would be better (and cheaper!)?