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  1. #1

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

    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:
    i) A Junior is a Skater who has reached the age of thirteen (13) but not the age of eighteen (18) before the July 1st immediately preceding the relevant event/competition.
    ii) In ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships and ISU Synchronized World Challenge Cup for Juniors, only Junior Skaters may compete who have reached the age of fourteen (14) but not the age of eighteen (18) before the July 1st immediately preceding the relevant event/competition.
    *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 by Sylvia; 05-03-2010 at 03:43 PM. Reason: To correct a typo & some calculations

  2. #2
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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. #3

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    Sylvia, has the rationale for the rule change been specified anywhere? I can't believe they're actually considering this.
    images on ice - Figure Skating Photography

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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!!!!

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shallwedansu View Post
    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 believe many influential people read/lurk on this forum. I'm "working behind the scenes" as well.

    One official has offered this rationale:
    There is a group that wants to match up the ISU's junior ages to the IOC's for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games that will be held in Innsbruck in 2012. That age is under 18 across the board. This got voted down two years ago. If it comes up again I am hoping it meets the same fate.
    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 by Sylvia; 05-02-2010 at 06:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvia View Post
    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 about the potential negative impact of the ISU's proposed Junior age limits. 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. **
    In that case, just send the Junior teams that match the criteria to the Junior Olympics!!!

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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.

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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:
    45. Russia FS: reduce upper junior ages from 19 to 18 in singles and from 21 to 19 for men in pairs/couples.
    Council NOT in favor, see new age rule proposal from ISU.
    In response to reckless:
    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.
    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 by Sylvia; 05-03-2010 at 03:38 PM.

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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.

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    45. Russia FS: reduce upper junior ages from 19 to 18 in singles and from 21 to 19 for men in pairs/couples.
    Council NOT in favor, see new age rule proposal from ISU.
    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. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by bek View Post
    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.

    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?

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    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.

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

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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

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    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 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. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    I forgot about that -- was there some enormous problem with junior pairs when that rule was in effect?
    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.

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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:

    Quote Originally Posted by Oz_sk8ting_mum View Post
    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
    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 that the few best skaters from the few strongest countries can bring.

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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?

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