Hersh/Age Minimums - Oh well, nothing else to argue about until Worlds

carriecmu0503

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Skaters, both boys/men and girls/ladies, have been attempting 3Axels and quads for a long time now. Surya Bonaly, Miki Ando, Sasha Cohen all attempted quads. Midori Ito, Tonya Harding and Kimmie Meissner did triple axels. Midori, Tara Lipinski, Michelle Kwan--along with many others--were doing difficult 3-3 combinations from a very young age. How are they doing now? Have they suffered long term consequences?
Kimmie Meissner landed exactly one triple Axel, which in today's world would not have been ratified as such, as it was clearly not fully rotated. I do not know that she even made a real attempt at it again after those 2005 Nationals. As for Michelle and Tara, yes, they had serious physical consequences. Tara never competed again after she won Olympics at age 15 due to being in extreme pain, and she went on to have major hip surgery. Michelle Kwan competed in serious pain for the last 3-4 years of her career, and also went on to have major hip surgery. We also cannot forget the serious foot injury she had when she was 17, from over training those 3/3s. Mirai Nagasu just had major hip surgery. This is not a rare occurrence, and many skaters end up with serious injuries.
 

skateboy

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Kimmie Meissner landed exactly one triple Axel, which in today's world would not have been ratified as such, as it was clearly not fully rotated. I do not know that she even made a real attempt at it again after those 2005 Nationals. As for Michelle and Tara, yes, they had serious physical consequences. Tara never competed again after she won Olympics at age 15 due to being in extreme pain, and she went on to have major hip surgery. Michelle Kwan competed in serious pain for the last 3-4 years of her career, and also went on to have major hip surgery. We also cannot forget the serious foot injury she had when she was 17, from over training those 3/3s. Mirai Nagasu just had major hip surgery. This is not a rare occurrence, and many skaters end up with serious injuries.
Surely Kimmie Meissner attempted many triple axels before landing the (cheated, yet ratified at the time) one in competition.

We were not talking about surgeries and injuries while competing (not forgetting Nathan Chen here), we were discussing long-term physical consequences. None of the aforementioned skaters have trouble walking, running, exercising, etc. Even Plushenko, with his many surgeries, functions normally and still performs triples.

People are showing concern for young skaters becoming injured, but the truth is that young bodies bounce back from injury quite quickly. I would dare to say that it's the older skaters that need to worry more. Taking a hard fall at age 25 (or older) is not nearly as "easy" on the body as taking one as a young teen. (I learned that myself... it's one of the main reasons I quit competing at age 26 and never skated again.)
 

Japanfan

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Well, there's also the question of psychological impact. What does it do to the mind of a twelve- or thirteen- or fourteen-year-old kid to thrown them into an adult competition and expect them to compete to win against people three, five, ten, fifteen years older than them, and consider them failures if they don't win?
Good question, but I'd also ask about the impacts of winning on a thirteen-fifteen year old and how that negatively or positively impacts that individual's worldview as they grow up.

Obviously FS has both negative and positive impacts.

I'm not a very competitive person by nature, although I do compete as a business person by necessity.

But figure skaters compete for their entire career - or, those aiming to win titles and progress in the sport do.

In the process they deal with various psychological impacts. In the best case, they have good pshychologists support them through the process.

Child actors, especially child stars, are a notoriously messed-up bunch for a variety of reasons; the era of teen phenom swimmers and tennis players also did not have good end results for many of said phenoms (just ask Thorpey and Grant Hackett). Do we need more of the same in figure skating too?
A young figure skating champion doesn't have quite the same notoriety as a child star.

But I'm actually thinking that FS can mess up not only a child, but an adult, in a number of ways.

If I had a child/niece/grandchild interested in sport, I'd never suggest they check out FS.

But yet I watch it and love it! :confused:

And what impact does it have on audiences to re-normalise thirteen-year-old world champions or world championship contenders, too? The idea, for me, is to grow away from that, and set better, more humane and less exploitative standards.
.

Fortunately 13 year olds can't compete in seniors.

If they win titles in juniors, well - they have a title.

This is a sport, after all. I'm uncomfortable with the notion of a thirteen-year-old being a world champion, but don't know of a sport in which that is the case.

Extreme skiing, maybe? I've familiar with a young woman who excelled in extreme skiing (I was assigned to write a Go-fund-me page for her) and she was under 16. TBH, she seems a bit a obsessive to me and her mom was rather nuts. The mom asked me to put a media campaign about her daughter into motion, for which she would pay me. I was so uncomfortable with the situation that I refused.

I'm fundamentally opposed to child labour in any form, so my personal stance is that while individual countries can do what they like - there are plenty where you get fourteen-year-olds competing at Senior level while skating Juniors internationally, for the experience - but the standardised rule should be 16 before the start of the season, the most common age at which teenagers are permitted to leave school permanently and get a full-time job. Among other things, it allows time for the kids to have something resembling a normal life, with school and friends and time off and outside interests, rather than dedicating their entire childhoods to the single-minded pursuit of as many medals as possible as quickly as possible.[/QUOTE]
 

starrynight

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I get to occasionally deal with people who did sports as young people as part of my job.

The worst situations is where they trained like mad in their youths and *almost* made it but then didn’t and had to go work in physical jobs. Then their knees and back give out by their late thirties/early forties and they become vulnerable to workplace injuries etc and can struggle to work. For example, having an unstable ankle or knee because of youth football can be very tricky if you are working as a labourer.

But I don’t think anyone thinks about that when kids are in their early teens.

For example, swimmer Ian Thorpe can’t raise his arm above shoulder height anymore. He’s okay because he became famous and has sponsorships and public speaking jobs. But too bad if he was reliant on using his body for his work. Hello periods of unemployment and low income.
 
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millyskate

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Diving is a sport where very young athletes compete at a high level sometimes. I think 16 or 17 would be good cut-off ages. It has helped in gymnastics, dramatically.

Still many gymnasts injure themselves overtraining early. And never make it to seniors... but it has greatly broadened the field of opportunity for more nations to be represented at senior level, as they have time to develop skills and catch up with established programs. And those who pace themselves can be competitive for much longer.



L
 

Tinami Amori

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17,166
Diving is a sport where very young athletes compete at a high level sometimes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjEGaBUE-HM
Juniors. 10 meter platform (3-story building roof top). Reverse 3-1/2 salto mortale.

same, only inwards - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zIuEtwQH7s

You bang your head on the edge... if no cracks, still dizzy for weeks...
Fall horizontal against water.... bad bad bad skin-burn, all red, whole body in pain for 3-4 days, then you're stiff for few more days.

etc... that's how it is in sports.. and yet one lives, and goes to college and climbs mountains... :lol:
 

MacMadame

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We were not talking about surgeries and injuries while competing (not forgetting Nathan Chen here), we were discussing long-term physical consequences. None of the aforementioned skaters have trouble walking, running, exercising, etc. Even Plushenko, with his many surgeries, functions normally and still performs triples.
I am flabbergasted by this attitude. Oh, these skaters had hip replacement surgery before they are 30 but they can walk without a cane so that's perfectly fine!

I'm sorry, but it's not fine. It's not normal to blow out your hips before you are 50 (let alone sooner). Plus, you have no idea what it takes for Plushy to continue to skate and do triples. We've seen him compete with horrible back pain and do triples and even quads. So just because he is out there doing triples in shows, doesn't mean he's fine.

This doesn't take into account the skaters who have serious surgery while competing. You blew off Nathan's situation because it doesn't fit your narrative but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
 

skateboy

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I am flabbergasted by this attitude. Oh, these skaters had hip replacement surgery before they are 30 but they can walk without a cane so that's perfectly fine!

I'm sorry, but it's not fine. It's not normal to blow out your hips before you are 50 (let alone sooner). Plus, you have no idea what it takes for Plushy to continue to skate and do triples. We've seen him compete with horrible back pain and do triples and even quads. So just because he is out there doing triples in shows, doesn't mean he's fine.

This doesn't take into account the skaters who have serious surgery while competing. You blew off Nathan's situation because it doesn't fit your narrative but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Please... I did not, nor am I "blowing off" Nathan's surgery, nor anyone else's injuries. You chose to claim that I did because it fits YOUR narrative.

My point is that figure skating--along with most sports, at an elite level--is not a "normal" activity. Elite skaters are very driven individuals, and those that choose to pursue high-level performance risk injury. Those athletes who manage to escape it can consider themselves very lucky. I feel sure that most coaches do the best they can to keep their skaters healthy but, especially, when attempting difficult jumping elements, the risk is there.

And yet, we are all FS fans and love our favorites, the heroes of the sport. So what, exactly, do we expect? Sure, it would would be nice if high-level skating was injury free for everyone, but that's never going to happen. Skaters will continue to get injured and some will endure surgeries. Should we all boycott the sport because of that? Should skaters stop pushing the envelope? Or restrict content to triples only? Bear in mind that Kwan and Lipinski never attempted anything more than 3 revolution triples and still got injured.

More than that, what I surmise--at least from some posters/fans, not all--is that their "concern" for young skaters is really that some of these youngsters are technically surpassing their long-time favorites. I get that... we all want our favorites to win. Fortunately, PCS (or artistry/presentation) is valued more highly than it ever has been in FS so, if a mature skater skates clean, they can--and often do--score higher than a mere jumping bean.

I stand by my statement that youngsters bounce back from injuries--and yes, even surgeries--fairly rapidly, and go on to lead normal lives in their adulthood.
 
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Cutting the Ice

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The skating community (including parents, coaches and most certainly the governing bodies) have a huge responsibility here to get it right - for the sake of the child's physical and mental health. Children, being minors until the age of majority, have been deemed not to have the ability to aways make correct decisions about their bodies and minds. So the skating community must act on the best available knowledge and then make decisions that - when there is doubt - use the precautionary principle.

To use an obvious example. Lots of children have survived car accidents while not wearing a seatbelt or if smaller, not being in a car seat - but society has rightly decided that the risk is unacceptable and so dictates that seatbelts / car seats are mandatory. It doesn't matter how inconvenient it is the parent to get them in and out of the car, or how much the child cries when strapped in, we must put the child's health first.

Let's use best evidence rather than anecdotes - this will likely require well-funded third-party research. If you check the scientific literature, there are lots of cross-sectional studies. Perhaps a well-designed prospective study of elite singles skaters (starting at novice), ideally multi-centred - if not already underway - should be initiated.
 

Seerek

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This is a completely different realm, but X-Games doesn't appear to be instituting an age minimum for most of its sport events anytime soon, with competitors as young as 11 or 12 not that uncommon (Skateboarding won't enforce age minimums for its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020).
 

MacMadame

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Sure, it would would be nice if high-level skating was injury free for everyone, but that's never going to happen. Skaters will continue to get injured and some will endure surgeries. Should we all boycott the sport because of that? Should skaters stop pushing the envelope? Or restrict content to triples only? Bear in mind that Kwan and Lipinski never attempted anything more than 3 revolution triples and still got injured.
These are all strawman arguments. No one is arguing for these things. The purpose of age limits it to use science to decide how much children who are still growing can do without doing major injury to their growing bodies.

Many sports have limits on what kids can do that are designed to increase their longevity in the sport. Baseball limits how many pitches can be done in practice, soccer/football doesn't allow heading at the lower levels, etc., etc.

There's no reason not to have the same sort of limits in figure skating, based on science and data.[/QUOTE]
 

gkelly

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The purpose of age limits it to use science to decide how much children who are still growing can do without doing major injury to their growing bodies.
The problem is that the governing bodies have no direct control over what happens in training.

And in some cases even the coaches don't have control over what the skaters are practicing outside of lessons.

Just restricting skaters from competing at higher levels before certain ages, or restricting what elements they can include in competition programs at their current age/competition level, won't necessarily prevent them from training the difficult elements now, in hopes of mastering them by the time they're allowed to use them.

Or just for fun, for bragging rights especially if they expect their bodies to change enough by the time they reach the senior age limit that they will no longer be capable of a difficult skill that is currently within their reach.

If minimizing injuries to growing bodies is the goal, I think it would be most effective to promulgate strongly worded recommendations, based on research, about when it's safe to start training certain elements at all, the amount of repetition that is safe, the kinds of off-ice training, warmup and cooldown practices, etc., most advantageous to maintaining healthy growing bodies while pursuing a long-term approach to adding difficulty.

Perhaps in conjunction with age limits, but age limits alone won't have the desired effect and might even encourage the opposite among ambitious early teen and younger girls eager to stand out among the crowed in junior competition since they can't compete as seniors, and to get a head start on mastering content they will want to use in seniors as soon as they're old enough.

Get the coaches on board with scientifically recommended best practices, and encourage the coaches to get their skaters on board.

And then also build in competitive rewards at all levels for skills that do not rely on excessive repetitive pounding or overstretching in training.
 

MacMadame

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The problem is that the governing bodies have no direct control over what happens in training.

And in some cases even the coaches don't have control over what the skaters are practicing outside of lessons.
Yet in other sports, they have these directives and people follow them. No reason that couldn't happen in skating.

But we need the data to support the recommendations. If it's just "I think" then why would anyone follow it when "conventional wisdom" is to get triples as fast as possible?

I see this as a several step process.

1) Do some damn research!

2) Make recommendations based on said research

3) Set the rules to enforce and encourage people to follow the recommendations.

Since we haven't gotten through step 1 yet, we can't really go to step 2 with authority.
 

gkelly

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Yet in other sports, they have these directives and people follow them.
How do team sports enforce what coaches ask players to practice during training? Not only team coaches, but private coaches that parents may hire to help their kids get an advantage at their current age level, or to get a head start on skills they will need to succeed at the next level next year?

How do they enforce what skills kids practice at home or how many repetitions they do there, possibly at the urging/instruction of their parents?

How do individual sports where 12-year-olds might be working on skills they'll be allowed to use competitive after they turn 13 (or other specific ages) enforce what happens during private instruction and unsupervised/parent-supervised practice in gyms, tennis courts, etc. around the world?
 

MacMadame

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How do team sports enforce what coaches ask players to practice during training? Not only team coaches, but private coaches that parents may hire to help their kids get an advantage at their current age level, or to get a head start on skills they will need to succeed at the next level next year?
They are on the same page because the data shows what happens if you don't follow the recommendations. Also, for some of it, there is no sense practicing it because you won't do it in the game. Not to say there aren't a few people here and there that go their own way and cheat. But they have data to show that's going to hurt the player in the long run.

Think of concussions instead of jumps or heading the ball or pitching. We know now the bad things that happen when concussions are ignored or treated lightly. There are protocols in place and being put in place. Are there still examples of people doing stupid things? Sure. But less and less of that happens as the data becomes clear.

The problem with figure skating is that there is a strong belief that skaters, especially girls, need to get their hardest jumps before they go through puberty. This is core belief of many in the figure skating community. And the system rewards them for doing it, too.

Therefore, they have absolutely no incentive to do anything differently and plenty of incentive to continue doing what they are doing.

I think all the hand-wringing about how these directives won't be enforceable is putting the cart before the horse. We don't even know what the data will show yet because there is none! Get the data first, figure out what the recommendations should be and then we can worry about how to enforce it.
 

gkelly

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I agree it's important to get the data first.

If the goal is to minimize injuries (short term and long term), then it's important to get as much knowledge as possible about what will minimize them, and then make policies based on that knowledge.

But if research shows it is indeed true that skaters, especially girls, need to get their hardest jumps before they go through puberty and also that practicing these jumps before puberty is deleterious to skaters' long-term health, then the sport needs to make different decisions about what it is going to reward most highly -- not only for pre-puberty juniors and novices and younger, but also for seniors.

If research were to show that quads are unacceptably dangerous for everyone and that girls can only get quads if they start learning them before finishing puberty, then any 13-year-old who thinks she has a chance of landing quads at 16+ and using them successfully in senior competition would still have incentive to start learning them well in advance of turning 16, even if she can't compete with them before then.

(The same might be true for, say, boys and Biellmanns, but currently the point value rewards are not high enough to make it worth boys ruining their health to attain them.)

With quads, we're only talking about very elite skaters right now.

If instead research were to show that working on multiple triples before starting puberty is unacceptably bad long-term for the skaters who try -- even if they never succeed in landing any clean triples in practice let alone in competition -- then that would be relevant to all skaters who ever hope to be competitive at higher levels even if they never get there. Any guidelines would be relevant to kids who quit the sport before junior level as well as those who go on to high-level competitive success, and many in between.

There probably is enough anecdotal data about skaters who have trained triples over the past 40+ years to suggest whether there would be value in retrospective studies on the long-term effects. Did former skaters sustain jump-related injuries while they were training in their youth? Did they end up with long-term problems in adulthood that can be directly connected to training practices one or more decades earlier?

And if the answer is Yes, youngsters training triple jumps even if they never reach elite levels is deleterious to the long-term health of both most successful and most unsuccessful competitors, then the sport needs to decide what level of damage to its participants is acceptable or unacceptable and what kinds of skills it really wants to reward.
 

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