Minimal age for determine skating rises to 17, following Olympic controversy
Ice skaters must be no less than 17 years outdated to compete in skilled competitions after the game’s governing physique voted Tuesday to extend the minimal age from 15.
The choice by the Worldwide Skating Union (ISU) congress in Phuket, Thailand, follows the controversy surrounding the Russian determine skater Kamila Valieva at this yr’s Beijing Winter Olympics.
“It is a very historic resolution,” ISU president Jan Dijkema stated, after 100 nations voted to assist the measure, whereas solely 16 opposed.
Then 15-years-old, Valieva examined constructive for a banned substance in a pre-game doping check.
She was allowed to compete within the 2022 Olympic contest, however broke down in tears after falling a number of instances throughout her efficiency, with the worldwide highlight on her.
Valieva, who had been tipped for a gold medal, completed in fourth.
The ISU stated it deliberate to lift the age restrict properly earlier than the Valieva case and acknowledged it had an obligation of care to elite adolescent athletes.
In a information launch, it stated the choice was made “for the sake of defending the bodily and psychological well being, and emotional well-being of the skaters.”
The change shall be phased in steadily. A minimal age of 15 will stay for the upcoming season, improve to 16 for the 2023-24 season after which increase to 17 for all following years, together with the 2026 Winter Video games.
It will disrupt the profession of prime Russian junior skater Sofia Akateva, who’s 14. Her birthday falls days after the July 1 deadline to categorise skaters’ ages for the upcoming season. But, having turned 18, she’s going to be capable of compete in 2026.
Earlier than the vote, ISU director-general Fredi Schmid acknowledged the physique had confronted media strain and a “main assault” within the wake of the Valieva contraversy.
He instructed delegates on the convention the game’s status was at stake.
“The second of reality is clearly as we speak as a result of the credibility of the ISU may even be scrutinised,” he stated. “The media and the general public will watch us very intently so remember this.”
The skating physique’s medical workforce additionally backed elevating the age restrict to 17 arguing it could profit younger skaters bodily and mentally, and assist lengthen their careers.
“I really feel as directors of the game of skating it’s your ethical obligation and obligation to offer these younger skaters with the chance and time to develop… the abilities they require as a way to achieve success on the senior stage,” Dr Jane Moran from the ISU’s medical fee stated.
“They’ve the correct to develop themselves as individuals throughout their adolescent age… They do not want us to be forcing them to compete.”
A medical report printed forward of the choice stated the change would enable junior athletes time to achieve skeletal maturity.
“The priority is that in a interval of recognized skeletal vulnerability, the adolescent athlete could also be uncovered to extreme coaching and competitors masses related to high-level competitors, which locations the athlete at larger threat of damage,” the medical report stated.
It additionally warned that some elite adolescent athletes may expertise a puberty delay for a median of two years due to the bodily calls for of coaching and insufficient power consumption. A larger threat of creating consuming problems was additionally famous.
The athletes’ fee surveyed near 1,000 athletes and coaches and 86 per cent had been in favour of lifting the age restrict.
Some representatives from smaller nations argued the adjustments would have a damaging influence on their expertise pool of skaters and talent to ship athletes to elite competitions.
Nevertheless, different smaller skating nations, reminiscent of Iceland and Eire, argued the main focus ought to be on defending kids.
“We now have to recollect they’re youngsters first and athletes second,” Eire’s ISU consultant in Phuket stated.
An modification to lift the minimal age to 16 after which wait till after the 2026 Winter Olympics to revisit the problem was rejected.
The ISU drafted an age-limit proposal saying “burnout, disordered consuming, and long-term penalties of damage” had been a threat to younger teenage skaters who’re pushed to carry out extra quadruple jumps.
The choice was criticised in Russia, the place skaters are presently banned by the ISU from worldwide competitions due to the nation’s army invasion of Ukraine.