USFS proposes lowering the age limit in pairs skating to 16 | Golden Skate

USFS proposes lowering the age limit in pairs skating to 16

Skating91

Medalist
Joined
Sep 16, 2023
I cannot believe one of the important countries in figure skating is proposing to lower the already inadequate age limit of 17 to 16, therefore exposing children to two more years of danger, potential physical and psychological harm competing as children in adult competitions. Not to mention that the child female skaters are often paired with male skaters much older, creating a very weird and strange dynamic that no other sport would tolerate (I can't really think of many examples of significantly older females performing with male children for example but several of the opposite).

I just can't believe that we have people still putting medals and results ahead of the welfare of children.

To me, the limit of 17 is inadequate and should be a 18 minimum for seniors. Children should compete in junior events.

Pairs is also the most dangerous discipline with the most injuries, with the female carrying much of the burden of traumatic injury.

We fought so hard for so many years to increase the age limit (which is inadequate it needs to be 18), but less than two years after being implemented we have a major federation trying to undermine it. And for what?

Please, discuss.
 
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el henry

Go have some cake. And come back with jollity.
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
Could you provide a link to the proposal that you are talking about and the precise language?

Proposal where (to what entity)?

When was this proposal made? (that is, is it the proposal that was discussed last year, 2023, in this forum and has already been voted upon by the ISU? Or is there a new one?)

(Also, very minor point, we rarely use "female" in colloquial English in the skating context. I am in awe of non-Anglophone persons posting in English, so this is not a criticism, just a note that use of the word women is much more common. A "child female" is a girl, a native Anglophone would never say "Child female".

Again, not a criticism, just a note, that I hope is helpful. :)
 

Kris135

On the Ice
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
I feel like the bigger problem is the large age gaps that exist in pair skating. Last year's junior world pair's champions were a 14 year old girl and 21 year old man. Am I the only person that sees a problem with this? The power dynamic between young girl who needs to driven to the rink and a man that can drink is so imbalanced that it is just asking for trouble. There have been several high profile cases where large age gaps have led to major problems and even fall out from one even caused tragic consequences from one young woman. I think the needs to be limits on how much older one partner can be. I think under the age of 16 years old the gap should no more than 3 years older than the other partner and for 16 and 17 olds it should be no more than 4 years older. That would do more to protect children than age limits ever will because if only children should be competing in junior events why are there a number of couples where there and a young girl and a grown man skating with her. The raising of age limits to 17 year olds were a knee jerk response to the Olympic scandal were a 15 year old was being totally abused for her coaches and country's gain. So yes I do think that they needed to raise the age limit some because a 15 year old is considered a protected person and not even suppose to be held responsible for his or her actions. But I have more mixed feelings on 16 year olds especially the ones that are born in the second half of the year. The reason is the ISU puts the date where an athlete has to be old enough to compete on July 1st. This means that someone has to be 17 years old by that date or has to stay in juniors for another year.. That means that let's take two skaters who are both 16 years old one turns 17 on June 30th and can compete on the senior level anf the other one who turns 17 on the 2nd of July has to stay in juniors for another year which seems to be unfair because no other sport has such an early cut off for eligibility. I have no real issue watching 16 olds skate at the senior level, most every country allows 16 year olds skaters at senior level in domestic competitions like their national championships anyway. What I do think is that skaters under the age of 18 needs to have is more monitoring by the ISU to ensure their well being and limits on how many competitions they can go to and requiring a parent or guardian to go with their child when they do complete at senior level events. Since most skaters are not coached by their parents the fact that mom or dad is there might stop some of the abuses that have taken place. The issue is that children needs to be protected and if there seems to be a pattern of abuse from either a coach and/or country then ISU needs to investigate and possibly ban to he offenders because it would protect skaters for being abused . There needs be more rules in place to protect children. Just keeping them juniors is not enough to stop much if the rules are not strengthened to keep them safe because ISU is not doing enough to actually keep kids safe.
 

Diana Delafield

Frequent flyer
Final Flight
Joined
Oct 22, 2022
Country
Canada
I feel like the bigger problem is the large age gaps that exist in pair skating. Last year's junior world pair's champions were a 14 year old girl and 21 year old man. Am I the only person that sees a problem with this?
As a retired pairs skater still skating pairs recreationally, I definitely see that as a big problem. I cringe when I see yet another man-child pairing. I know some of the men -- probably many -- are protective of their little partners, but the potential for physical and emotional problems are still there. I can't help seeing them as like a boisterous young uncle, not realizing his own strength, tossing a small niece in the air and just laughing when she screams or her parents object. I don't know about a strict age gap, it being hard enough to find partners as it is, but it still should only be a couple of years at most. Barb Underhill said that when she at 14 was paired with the 16-year-old Paul Martini she was in awe of him because he had a driver's licence and was dating :). When the 12-year-old Natasha Kuchiki was told she was being paired (with no choice of her own) with the 25-year-old Todd Sand, the nicest partner possible, she was reportedly in tears for days at the prospect.

Obviously not every pair is going to be as lucky as my partner and I were, being just a few days apart in age and already friends at our club, but there does need to be some limit imposed.
 

Jumping_Bean

Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
I feel like the bigger problem is the large age gaps that exist in pair skating.
Yes, this is a very big problem, and even more reason to uphold the minimum senior age at 17, as pairs with very big age differences (over 5 years) are more likely to not be formed in the first place or split early on when it is known that the team will have to sit out one or even multiple seasons between Jrs and Srs.

I also want to point out that a big age difference is absolutely not necessary to achieve success in pairs. Not in Juniors and not in Seniors. The average age of the medalists at Jr Worlds, the JGPF and the YOG since the 2010s is around 3 years, with only 3 pairs out of the 40-ish pairs having age differences above 5 years (and all three of these pairs split before going Senior).
 
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Why do i get the feeling that the OP is putting us on? ;)

Anyway, the Soviet pair of Marina Cherkosova and Sergei Shakhrai were put toigether in 1977 when she was 12 and he was 18. There was a 35 cm height difference. They won a bronze medal at Europeans that year, mostly because of their astonishing twists.The next year the ISU changed the judging rules to give more weight to "two skating as one" and less to tossing your partner up to the ceiling.

In 1979 the ten-time world pairs champion Irina Rodnina took a year off to have a baby. In her absence, Cherkosova and Shakhrai took second to America's Babilonia and Gardner. In 1980 they won silver at the1980 Olympics and gold at 1980 Worlds the following month.

Alas, by the next year Cherovsova had grown an extra 20 cm and had ballooned up to a whopping 45 kilos (99 pounds). He couldn't lift her any more and they retired the following year.
 

Amei

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 11, 2013
I feel like the bigger problem is the large age gaps that exist in pair skating. Last year's junior world pair's champions were a 14 year old girl and 21 year old man. Am I the only person that sees a problem with this? The power dynamic between young girl who needs to driven to the rink and a man that can drink is so imbalanced that it is just asking for trouble. There have been several high profile cases where large age gaps have led to major problems and even fall out from one even caused tragic consequences from one young woman. I think the needs to be limits on how much older one partner can be. I think under the age of 16 years old the gap should no more than 3 years older than the other partner and for 16 and 17 olds it should be no more than 4 years older. That would do more to protect children than age limits ever will because if only children should be competing in junior events why are there a number of couples where there and a young girl and a grown man skating with her. The raising of age limits to 17 year olds were a knee jerk response to the Olympic scandal were a 15 year old was being totally abused for her coaches and country's gain. So yes I do think that they needed to raise the age limit some because a 15 year old is considered a protected person and not even suppose to be held responsible for his or her actions. But I have more mixed feelings on 16 year olds especially the ones that are born in the second half of the year. The reason is the ISU puts the date where an athlete has to be old enough to compete on July 1st. This means that someone has to be 17 years old by that date or has to stay in juniors for another year.. That means that let's take two skaters who are both 16 years old one turns 17 on June 30th and can compete on the senior level anf the other one who turns 17 on the 2nd of July has to stay in juniors for another year which seems to be unfair because no other sport has such an early cut off for eligibility. I have no real issue watching 16 olds skate at the senior level, most every country allows 16 year olds skaters at senior level in domestic competitions like their national championships anyway. What I do think is that skaters under the age of 18 needs to have is more monitoring by the ISU to ensure their well being and limits on how many competitions they can go to and requiring a parent or guardian to go with their child when they do complete at senior level events. Since most skaters are not coached by their parents the fact that mom or dad is there might stop some of the abuses that have taken place. The issue is that children needs to be protected and if there seems to be a pattern of abuse from either a coach and/or country then ISU needs to investigate and possibly ban to he offenders because it would protect skaters for being abused . There needs be more rules in place to protect children. Just keeping them juniors is not enough to stop much if the rules are not strengthened to keep them safe because ISU is not doing enough to actually keep kids safe.

I got criticized for pointing that out last year.
**************
Personally I wasn't against the age limit being 16, as long as the 'protected person' shenanigans is irrelevant, but when people that championed raising the limit goes into 'the sake of children' to get it raised to 17...you can't walk back the age increase. Secondly, I'm sorry but saying a singles skater has to be 17 but a pairs skater can be 16 is comical.
 
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Joined
Jun 21, 2003
But is this whole thread a made-up attempt at trolling, or is there really such a proposal curently on the table? Can anyone provide a link to some official information or are we all just talking through our hats at this point?
 

DancingCactus

Final Flight
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Seems like the "source" is a Russian website? So take it with a whole boatload of salt.

 
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
@DancingCactus Thank you. Here is some information (Wikipedia) about this source. Apparently it was once a legitimate news organization, but in 2013 it was dissolved by Vladimir Putin who confiscated its assets and reorganized oit into a state-owned moutpiece. It's main recent claim to fame was a 2022 piece announcing the glorious victory of Russia in the Ukraine war, which had been prepared ahead of time "anticipating" that Ukraine had been coinquered and returned to its legitimate rulers, Russia.
 

gsk8

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Country
United-States
@Mathman @DancingCactus @el henry

I can confirm through correspondence with USFS that they have put forth a proposal to "freeze" the age at 16 for women in junior pairs only.

In July 2023, the ISU already said that they would use a "working group" due to "exceptional circumstances" as the age limit would affect partnerships.

So, USFS is not asking to "lower" the age; rather to "freeze" it at 16 to prevent pairs from splitting up.
 

Crowdproud

On the Ice
Joined
Nov 1, 2022
I can confirm through correspondence with USFS that they have put forth a proposal to "freeze" the age at 16 for women in junior pairs only.

In July 2023, the ISU already said that they would use a "working group" due to "exceptional circumstances" as the age limit would affect partnerships.

So, USFS is not asking to "lower" the age; rather to "freeze" it at 16 to prevent pairs from splitting up.

yeah, it's like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube...
 

ladyjane

Medalist
Joined
Jun 26, 2012
Country
Netherlands
I also have worries about the age gap at the younger levels, not when both partners are adults and can handle it even when it's substantial. Young men (20 or 21) combined with girls of 13-14 seems a misfit to me.
 

Jumping_Bean

Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
So, because I've been keeping track of Jr pairs the whole season already anyway, let me offer you all some perspective:
Of the 65 Junior pairs who competed internationally or at national championships/championship qualifiers and where I've been able to find out their birthdays, 14 run into age-eligibility issues (~21.5%), including one team which would have run into age-eligibility issues even under the old age limits and one already competing under the exception rule. Even with a Sr limit of 16 years for pairs, 4 of 14 pairs would still have a season of ineligibility. Of the 19 pairs at Jr Worlds, only 2 have age-eligibility issues (would have been 3 out of 21 if the Chinese were sending skaters).

As for the quality of pairs being "under threat" (which I've seen people argue for) - This is simply not accurate. The average age difference of medalists at Worlds, Euros/4CC, the Olympics, and the GPF is just over 4 years and that of the most successful pairs (over 5 medals) is even lower (around 3 and a half years). Of the 66 different Sr pairs medalists since the 2000s, 6 (!) of them would have not been Sr-eligible for at least one of their Sr medals, and of those 6, two would not have been eligible even with the lower limit being 16.
 
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
I don't completely understand the junior versus senior aspect of this proposal. Is the problem that the older man has aged out of junior and must compete only in seniors, while the younger lady isn't yet old enough to compete as a senior and must stay in juniors?
 
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Jumping_Bean

Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
I don't completely understand the junior versus senior aspect of this proposal. Is the problem that the older man has aged out of junior and [/i]must[/i] compete only in seniors, while the younger lady isn't yet old enough to compete as a senior and must stay in juniors?
Yes, that is exactly the "problem" they are trying to find a solution for. Under the old age rules, a gap of 6 seasons (older male partner) was no issue, and under the new rules, a gap of 4 seasons would be the upper limit for pairs to not have to sit out a season in which they aren't eligible for Jr or Sr competitions (internationally).
 

Skatelife

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
The main argument for raising the age limit was the health and well-being of "children". So that's irrelevant now? Or pairs women are not considered children, maybe the only children to be protected back then were the single ladies.,🤔🤔🤔
 
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