Concern for the Future Development of Pairs & Dance (ISU's proposed JR age limits)

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sylvia, May 2, 2010.

  1. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    I'm starting a separate thread on this topic out of deep concern for the future development of pairs and dance teams around the world if the ISU Council's Junior age limits proposal passes as currently worded:
    *Note: If the above proposals pass in the ISU Congress in June 2010, they would take effect in the 2011-2012 season.*

    If this rule had been in place during the 2009-2010 season, only a fraction of pair and dance teams would have been age-eligible for the JGP and 2010 Junior Worlds, according to my calculations as follows:

    40 Junior Pairs from 16 different countries participated this past season on the JGP and/or Junior Worlds.
    Only 6 of the 40 (15%) would have been age-eligible for 2010 Junior Worlds. 4 other teams had 13 year old female partners (including Sui of China's Jr. World champion pair of Sui/Han) and could have competed on the JGP only (10 pairs out of 40 = 25%).
    Male partners aged 20 before July 1, 2009: 9 (22.5%)
    Male partners aged 19: 6 (15%)
    Male partners aged 18: 14 (35%)
    Subtotal: 29 (72.5%)
    Male partners aged 17 and younger: 11 (27.5%)
    Female partners aged 13: 9 (22.5%)

    76 Junior Dance teams from 27 different countries participated this past season on the JGP and/or Junior Worlds. (Note: I'm missing the ages for 1 EST team and 2 BLR teams so am leaving them out of my calculations below.)
    21 of the 73 (29%) would have been age-eligible for 2010 Junior Worlds. 2 other teams had 13 year old female partners and could have competed on the JGP only (23 teams out of 73 = 31.5%).
    Male partners aged 20 before July 1, 2009: 9 (12%)
    Male partners aged 19: 20 (27%)
    Male partners aged 18: 21 (29%)
    Subtotal: 50 (68.5%)
    Male partners aged 17 and younger: 23 (31.5%)

    Your thoughts? Constructive comments or suggestions?
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  2. shallwedansu

    shallwedansu New Member

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    It's a great idea to bring attention to this, but how much impact will us talking on a forum have? Will a discussion on a figure skating forum have any influence on the decision?

    I don't know exactly what, but further action than simply discussing the issue needs to take place if we want the proposal to be voted down. Maybe an online petition? Or sending letters and e-mails? I don't know what else can be done.:(
  3. shutterbug

    shutterbug Well-Known Member

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    Sylvia, has the rationale for the rule change been specified anywhere? I can't believe they're actually considering this. :eek:
  4. taz'smum

    taz'smum Active Member

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    Maybe this is the idea, that there will be so few competitors that all the events will be able to be held in 1 day, and save on costs!!!!
  5. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    I can see two justifications for the rule (not that I agree with them). First, the ISU may want to cut down on 21-year old men with 14-year old girls. Second, there may be concerns that wide age disparities result in teams spending time together only for the girl to grow and turn out to be too tall for the guy.

    In response, I can understand the first, but the reality is that girls grow up. I also am curious how many of the teams at this year's JGP and Junior Worlds had an age gap of more than 5 years. Is it to big a problem that it really requires drastic change?

    As for the second issue, that problem is only magnified if the guy is so young that you cannot tell how much he will grow. Does the ISU think they will solve size issues when 14-year old boys and 12-year old girls are paired together? Or even 16-year and 14-year olds?

    More importantly, the change makes no sense for both disciplines. The physical requirements of pairs -- and increasingly in dance -- generally require an age difference. A 16-year old boy does not have the same strength as an 18-year old to lift a 14-year old girl. Under this proposal, the 18/14 team would only have one year of junior eligibility before they have to go to seniors. And any team with a guy older than 18 would be entirely ineligible for juniors.

    I also wonder if the ISU has considered the potential safety risks. I often shudder when junior teams do lifts right now. I can't imagine what lifts are going to look like when the boys are generally weaker than they are now.
  6. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    I believe many influential people read/lurk on this forum. I'm "working behind the scenes" as well.

    One official has offered this rationale:
    There are so many knowledgeable and passionate fans of skating here, and this thread is for them to express their own concerns and opinions about the potential impact of the ISU's proposed Junior age limits (ETA: such as reckless' post above and barbk's post below). For example, it seems obvious to me that the disciplines of pairs and dance should NOT be lumped in with speed and synchro skating when it comes to Junior international age limits.
    Last edited: May 2, 2010
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  7. taz'smum

    taz'smum Active Member

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    In that case, just send the Junior teams that match the criteria to the Junior Olympics!!!
  8. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    Sylvia -- I wouldn't assume that skaters and coaches wouldn't adjust to this just like they've adjusted to other rules. Already you have skaters who decide not to skate with each other because he's too old to compete as a junior internationally, and she has three years to go before she can compete as a senior.

    You can even argue that this change may well bring more boys into pairs skating because they don't have to wait so long (effectively) to compete internationally -- under the current rules there is no advantage (and a lot of disadvantage) for a sixteen year old boy to compete junior pairs rather than a twenty year old guy, and partners are definitely chosen taking that into consideration. In the long run, it might also lead to pairs lasting longer because the guy doesn't outgrow the sport so soon, and the age difference isn't as great.

    The change also has a tendency to making the junior international competition more of a true junior event rather than a young senior event. Right now I don't see much difference between the top three junior teams and senior teams ranked between 8-12 internationally.

    In the short run there may well be fewer teams. I'm not convinced that this will continue to be a problem in the longer run. I don't know if it is a good idea, but I am willing to consider that there may be logical reasons supporting this for the growth of the sport.
  9. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    I feel the ISU Council's Junior age limits proposal is too drastic a change too quickly, even if it goes into effect in 2011-12. I think it would be more reasonable to support the Russian federation's age limit proposal as summarized by HisWeirness in the 2010 ISU Congress Agenda thread:
    In response to reckless:
    Re. Jr. pairs, there were 4 teams (out of 40) that had an age gap of more than 5 years, and a total of 10 pairs that had a gap of 5 to 7 years.

    ETA: Does anyone happen to know the birthdates for these 3 Jr. dance teams?
    Karina LASHUK / Vladimir KISLIAKOV BLR
    Veronika SHINKEVICH / Vladislav ABRAMOV BLR
    Emili ARM / Rodion BOGDANOV EST
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  10. The Accordion

    The Accordion Well-Known Member

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    It is not as though there are way way too many good pairs and dance teams in the junior ranks and they need a way to cut down the numbers!

    I am not a diehard follower of the junior grand prix - but aren't there so few that they only include the disciplines in certain grand prix events?

    There seems to be enough of a shortage of good men in these disciplines that there is no reason to further water down the pool while young teams are getting things figured out.

    I truly hope this does not pass as I see a sad outcome in the next generation of senior pairs and dance events.
  11. bek

    bek Guest

    I honestly wonder if both of Russia's age proposals (i.e the age limit being lowered for singles) will get more support. One thing I don't understand is why they can't just say only teams that qualify compete in the Junior Olympics. And only teams that match the qualifications can compete for spot at the Junior Olympics. That's an easy answer in my understanding.
  12. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    My guess is that neither the JOs nor the ISU wants to send a team that finished 6th at World Juniors to the JO. Remember the flack the USFSA got when they had to skip over two podium placements in order to put together a legal ladies team for Worlds?
  13. loopey

    loopey Well-Known Member

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    In a very small way this reminds me of the problem the NBA had a couple of years ago, where people wanted to make it more difficult for students wanting to enter the NBA straight from High School. The concern was that the talent level in the NBA would be diminished by less prepared/skilled athletes.

    This is similar in a small way because it would mean IMO, the Senior competitions would have more junior skilled skaters in it. Especially in the countries where the field is not deep.

    I already felt that at least 10 of the Senior pairs at Olympics and Worlds had a junior skill level and wished they had stayed at that level. This seems like it will make it worse. JMO.
  14. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    This problem actually is less common than the opposite. You have a boy who is still junior eligible until 21, skating with a girl who turns 18. the boy doesn't want to move up to senior and gets a younger partner.

    The girl-18, boy-21 rule has only been in effect for about 6 years or so. Before that it was 18 for all. So, they are actually going back to the way it used to be.
  15. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    I forgot about that -- was there some enormous problem with junior pairs when that rule was in effect?
  16. Oz_sk8ting_mum

    Oz_sk8ting_mum New Member

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    If this new rule goes a head it will put smaller (numerically) countries out of the picture all together.

    Our pools of skaters are so small to even find a partner is a struggle and to find one who will now also have fit the smaller age gap is near impossible.

    We currently have three Tested pairs couples in our whole country and they would all age out of Juniors before they even got there.

    Development of pairs in Australia is just beginning again, our boys at 18 are not ready for Senior level, not physically or talent wise, this could once again halt pairs and dance in this country:duh:
  17. Bogie

    Bogie Active Member

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    The trouble with your statement is that good boys generally stay in singles until their later teens (at least from my observation in America); I don't think there are too many who specifically skate pairs only at a young age. The boys who decide to shift over to pairs for whatever reason will now be discouraged from doing so, since they would be unlikely to obtain junior international competitive experience, and while you can compete successfully at the senior level internationally without having been an international junior, it is a hindrance to development.

    Pairs has always been a great vehicle for keeping boys in the sport when their singles careers have maxed out, in my opinion. The opportunity to compete internationally which eluded them in singles is there, and the older boys have the strength to manage the difficult lifts required.

    Girls are the ones who grow more quickly out of the sport, it seems. Boys (especially tall, strong ones) are just reaching their prime years for pairs at around 19, and if the ISU is willing to sacrifice pair development for a silly Youth Olympics, it shows there isn't a whole lot of knowledge of how pair teams develop.

    I certainly hope someone comes up with an alternative for these aged-out pairs to get some international experience.
  18. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Basically what was happening was that federations were noticing that it was typical for the boys in dance/pairs partnerships to be a year or so older than the girls. So, many junior teams had to move up before they were ready. They made the eligibility age a bit older for boys to accommodate that. The problem was/is, that now, instead of the boys being a year or two older, they are 3,4,5 years older. So, you have two issues - the boys age out of junior when the girl is too young for senior (with the teams where the boy is a lot older). Or, the girl ages out of junior and the boy can still stay junior with a younger partner and so teams spit up. There are problems with age regardless of what the cut off is.
  19. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot for bringing attention to this Sylvia.

    ISU is really damaging the development of pairs and ice dance with this badly thought through proposition.

    It's already very hard to find a suitable partner, especially if you live in a country where a large pool of skaters is not available. It's going to be even harder now.

    Oz_sk8ting_mum explained it very well herself:

    Together with the drastic cuts in the number of skaters at ISU Championships, this is going to seriously damage the development of skating in federations, which aren't traditionally strong.

    What is ISU thinking? They are supposed to be the ones responsible for developing the sport and making it more popular but it seems as if they only care for the :bribe: that the few best skaters from the few strongest countries can bring. :mad:
  20. OlieRow

    OlieRow Well-Known Member

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    Would it be possible for them to keep the 18/21 age cutoffs but then say no more than 3 years (or whatever) between partners ages if they wanted to prevent excessive age gaps?
  21. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    But sometimes you really do not have a lot of choice.

    Imagine being a young Polish or Australian pair skater.
    - There are very few potential partners in your country.
    - Being at developmental level, you don't have the status and the money that comes with it yet to relocate or pay towards somebody else relocating. Not to mention your or your parents could not even consider you leaving home either.

    So sometimes, the only partner that is available is going to be much younger.
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  22. dr.frog

    dr.frog Well-Known Member

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    That is not true. My copy of the 1998 ISU Regulations has the "19 for ladies and 21 for men in pair skating and ice dancing" exception language. It is marked as a change so that's the year it went into effect.
  23. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    It may have been in place for pairs, but it was not for dance (at least not in 2000). They've probably been playing with this for a while.

    I don't necessarily think that same age cut offs (for ladies and men) for pairs and dance is a bad thing. Maybe they should up the age for "team" disciplines to 19 or 20. But, in making the age limits different they create a whole other sort of problem. they create problems with teams where the age difference is great and they create a problem for teams where they are the same age or a year apart. I appreciate that finding a partner is hard, harder in some places than others, but age can be a problem regardless of the distribution.
  24. Bogie

    Bogie Active Member

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    Where in the ISU document does it say that age gaps are their concern? My understanding is that they are trying to align the ages across the entire ISU organization in order to be prepared for the upcoming Youth Olympics. To me, this shows more of an interest on the part of the ISU in sucking up to the IOC than in being caretakers of the sport and its participants.
  25. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Actually, this may strengthen pairs and dance. Don't be so quick to think it will be harmful. When there is a significant age disparity, there is also a maturity disparity. This may, very well, be a good thing. It will also keep the teams in the same age restriction, so that they can move up together. It could, very well, prevent many break ups.
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  26. dr.frog

    dr.frog Well-Known Member

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    :rolleyes: The language in the 1998 regulations absolutely did say both pairs and ice dancing. If by "in 2000" you are referring to the 1999-2000 competitive season, then the 1998 regulations would have been in effect at that time.

    Yes, the ISU has been playing with the age rules for both junior and senior competitions for a long time. But this particular rule was in effect in 1998.
  27. Oz_sk8ting_mum

    Oz_sk8ting_mum New Member

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    Maturity disparity can be a good thing, you want little girls to be confident that the partner who has them above their head is physically strong enough to do so.

    A good thing?? If they can 1st find a partner in the same age group and if your prepared to have a young boy lifting a girl who is often the same size and weight as him, In fact a lot of boys don't even grow until 15-16.

    Personally as the mother of a 16 year boy there are not many 14-15 year old girls I would be comfortable seeing him lift or throw, Its dangerous to the girl and physically dangerous to a still growing body for the boy.
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  28. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I don't have my old rule books, so I can't look any of this up. But, I do remember that there was a change raising the age limit for boys in pairs and dance to 21, sometime after the 00/01 season. Do me a favor, and check the limits for 00/01. Also, could it be that the old age regulation was 18 for girls/19 or 20 for boys?
  29. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for the double post.

    I understand your concerns, but age doesn't necessarily dictate size. And while I see your points re: physical maturity, I don't know that it is a good thing for 12 year old girls to be partnering 18 year old boys. Even when they are close in age, there can be emotional problems.
  30. softlip

    softlip New Member

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    I'm very :confused: about this one (page 64):

    It's for singles as well but I see this as more relevant to pairs/dance so I post this in this thread rather then the other.

    Is this a way to offer aged-out-but-not-senior-ready-teams the possibility to compete? What's the exact purpose of the categories? Is it only a distinction at national level? Are there separate SC1 and SC2 category winners at competitions? Actually which kind of comps should include such a segment? Senior Bs? GPs? Can a comp/event be exclusively for SC1 and SC2 teams? :confused:
  31. Oz_sk8ting_mum

    Oz_sk8ting_mum New Member

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    Lets face it .. there are always emotional problems.. no matter the age:lol: In fact they get worse as they get older !!! THAT would be the least of my worry's .. THAT is just life:)
  32. X-File

    X-File New Member

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    Surely this would be a much more sensible approach. You make too big a change too soon the small number of competitors will just throw in the towel and the discipline may never recover. I agree that a 5-7 year age gap is just ridiculous, so bring it down to 3 years but maintain the current age limits ... should fix the issues, and give teams plenty of time to make adjustments in team composition if necessary. :runs:

    It is so hard to find teams here in the minority countries that this may just kill the discipline in Australia completely. :(
  33. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like they might be opening the door for special SC1 and SC2 events or, more likely, the possibility that a country could invite SC1 or SC2 competitors to a GP or Senior B. Of course, that makes little sense because nearly any team aged-out of juniors is almost certainly going to be eligible for senior competition. The idea that anyone is going to host events specially for SC1 or SC2 competitors is beyond absurd. The ISU can't even find places that want to host the GPs with the top-ranked senior skaters. Who is going to volunteer to host competitions for the pairs and dance teams that are in international limbo because they are aged out of juniors but not strong enough to compete at senior internationals?
  34. skatefan

    skatefan Well-Known Member

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    For those interested in the ages for the Youth Olympics, I found this:

    http://www.olympicmonitor.com/ioc-e...youth-olympic-games-in-2012-in-innsbruck.html

    I assume that the date of 31st December would be 2011 for the 2012 event.

    I'm sure I read somewhere that for singles the ages would be 15/16 but as yet I can't find a link.
  35. Imperfect Edge

    Imperfect Edge New Member

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    It seems silly to hinder so many pairs/couples for an event which takes place once every 4 years ... and doesnt have the status of main Olys or even Junior Worlds.

    However maybe one solution could be split Juniors into Junior A and Junior B events one being for those up to 18, and the second for those up to say 23 give skaters even more of a chance to develop. And keep restrictions on switching between Junior/Senior. Not sure how it would work in terms of Grand Prix events and keeping numbers down ... but arguably it would keep more people happy?

    The one disadvantage of the current system is as mentioned above guys ditching partner of same age in order to stay at Junior. But then it recognises the fact that guys take longer to develop.
  36. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    That would be the least of your worries because you have a boy. I am sure that your son is a perfect gentleman, but not all are. There are incidents of molestation in teams that are close in age, but the problem becomes a bigger issue when the age is greater. In addition, it in not always a good idea for young girls to be "hanging around" with much older partners and their friends. I am just pointing out that there are other aspects to consider.

    Personally, I think that there are many ways that skating can protect it's athletes. There are some moves that very young skaters should just not be doing. The younger we see these kids doing more difficult elements, the more injuries we see. Maybe some elements should just not be allowed at certain levels. Maybe they should raise the minimum age for junior and make the maximum age 20 for all.

    The problem with that is that it will not be taken seriously. At Junior Nationals, years ago, they had 2 Intermediate events in dance, not sure if they had it for pairs (I don't remember if they did this for Juvenile). Intermediate A & Intermediate B (I think). One was for age eligible, the other for aged out couples. No one really took the aged out competitors seriously, so they dropped it.

    It does, but that doesn't help the girl who was with that boy for several years, worked hard, and now has no partner.
  37. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I thought that this was the real purpose for the age disparity.
    It's a matter of health, and safety, for the skaters involved.
    That is more important than most of the reasons that have been mentioned for justifying the suggested changes.
  38. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    Do you have any basis -- other than your opinion -- that older boys are more likely to engage in inappropriate sexual activity with younger girls? I would think that a boy who is 3-5 years older is less likely to be interested in the girl with whom he skates. In most states, sexual activity between people with such an age difference would be a crime, and is often a felony if the boy has turned 18. Honestly, I would think teens of similar ages are more likely to fool around.

    But how does this proposal cure that problem? Under the new age rules, you add another variable -- the boy's development -- into the equation. While the boy may not ditch the girl so he can stay junior, you could wind up with a couple that only learns after several years that the boy is not going to grow tall enough for pairs or dance. So your girl may still be partnerless after years of skating. Only now she is ineligible for juniors and, having a smaller partner, has probably not developed sufficiently to be competitive at the senior level.

    How often does it even occur that a boy drops a female partner because she is age-ineligible for juniors and he wants to stay junior? For that to happen under the current rules, the boy would have to be less than three years older than the girl, which is relatively uncommon according to Sylvia's numbers from JW and JGP. And he is probably not going to have that many more years of junior eligibility, so I just can't see that being a major reason for a decision to switch partners.
  39. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Yes I do, but will not offer examples, for obvious reasons.

    Fooling around is one issue, if it is mutually consensual. But, it is not always that way.


    That is a valid point, however, that is a problem regardless. Female athletes can have growth spurts much later than average. Female athletes, especially in a sport that rewards thinness, often begin menses at a later age. Therefore, they can grow in height into their late teens/twenties.

    It happens.
  40. mishieru07

    mishieru07 New Member

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    THIS.

    I honestly don't know why the ISU cares that much about the YOG; pressure from the IOC? They can just send the teams that fall within the age limits of the YOG and keep the current ones for JGP/ J Worlds. Not all sports feature the best teams anyway. For example, the teams participating in football at the YOG are:
    Boys: Singapore, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Bolivia, Vanuatu, Montenegro
    Girls: Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Papua New Guinea, Turkey

    With all due respect, how many of them have ever made it to the World Cup finals? :rolleyes:

    This rule is just going to kill pairs/ dance in smaller nations. We don't have a large pool of skaters to begin with, and there's a huge dearth of male partners overall. Why does the ISU want to make life so difficult for the poor skaters? :wall:

    Reckless, there's a reason why most early partnerships do not last; there are far too many factors at play; motivation, finances, compatibility of partners, physical size (I guess to some extent you can tell how tall skaters will be looking at their parents?), talent levels, injury etc. Partnerships as long as Virtue/Moir's and Davis/White's are the rarity, not the norm. IMO, the new rules will just mean a smaller pool of suitable partners for a skater, if both parties are looking at a long-term partnership which allows them sufficient time for development at the junior level.

    Honestly, I'd be far more afraid of coaches than skaters themselves if we're talking sexual abuse/ molestation. Does anyone have any statistics or anecdotal evidence?