ISU Council's Proposal to change Rule 108 - Age Limits for Single & Pair Skating / Ice Dance + ISU Medical Commission's report

Dobre

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I feel, as I felt before, that it's a matter of percentages. I said four years ago that I was still OK with the selected age limits so long as the Ashleys, Kaetlyns, & Tuks were still able to compete for the podium. Well, the pendulum continued to swing in the direction of the pre-pubescent athletes to the point at which a complete meltdown was required for anyone else to get on the podium. I am fine with the age limit changing now.

The sport changes, and the rules change with it. This has always been true. It doesn't change the champions of the past or their influence upon the sport. They helped lead us here, and the rules of today have to address the challenges of the sport now.
 

Firedancer

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I think the BVs for spins and step sequences should be increased to put more value on those elements. And I agree with making levels of those elements more difficult to achieve.
 

VGThuy

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I don't know if I want it more difficult to achieve levels for spins because I don't want a return to the 2005-06 IJS (fugly fugly spins), but I do think there should be a way to mark down on bad form, execution, or other spin issues or better reward clean spin positions and great-to-excellent centering, and effortless transitions from position-to-position.
 

gkelly

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I think @mpal2 meant that PCS should be weighed even heavier. I wonder if that and/or having bigger separations between the skaters in PCS (if it's deserved) would be better. Like no more increments of 0.25 (10-9.75-9.50-9.25-9.0-8.75-etc.) but instead like 10-9.5-9.0-8.5-8.0-etc.

I don't think that taking away the opportunity for judges to give close-but-not-identical scores to skaters whose performances they believe to be close but not identical in overall value would be a positive change.

Judges are already free to give 0.5 or larger differences between skaters that they see a clear difference on in each component, by just ignoring the available options between those scores.

But sometimes the difference is narrower. And making fewer scoring options available to judges would mean that for two skaters that were close on, e.g., Skating Skills or Presentation, the judge would have to decide between giving them identical scores or a whole 0.5 apart.

With the change to only 3 components and larger component factors as a result, the total effect on TSS of every 0.25 difference is already going to be larger, with less opportunity for judges to reflect fine differences overall. If anything, I'd want to see increments of 0.1 instead of 0.25 be available with this change.

With 0.5 increments, on a scale of 0 to 10, for each component there would only be 20 possible scores available to award to 30 or more skaters at large events. And for senior championships the Skating Skills scores in particular really should not be in the 0-5 range. Do we really want judges to have only 10 possible scores to work with to distinguish all those skaters' skating skills? Giving large numbers of skaters the exact same score would do the opposite of making PCS meaningful.

Btw, I agree with @VGThuy about the spin BV and somehow making the levels more stringent/difficult to achieve. And adding another spin element at the expense of a jumping pass would not upset me at all.

Or other edge-based elements. I've suggested a few possibilities in the past. Free dance elements (including for solo dance events, not currently an ISU discipline) could provide inspiration for some options that could be used for points in singles disciplines as well.
 
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VGThuy

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I honestly don't mind any of the above. I think oftentimes the 0.25 increments are kind of used as cop-outs, and it's not like fans think PCS are being used appropriately anyway. I don't see what's wrong with it considering other sports use that system, like diving. If two skaters are close in skating skills but one is like slightly better (really if they're within 0.25 then who can really tell?), how do we really know that skater is actually 0.25 or 0.75 better? I don't mind if they end up having the same score or a 0.5-1.0 difference. Or maybe make PCS scale out of 15 if we're so worried and make 10.00 what 7-8s are now.
 

Sylvia

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Just a friendly suggestion :) - maybe the speciifc topic of PCS can be continued in this thread that was started back in February?
 
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Louis

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I'd still like to see jump multipliers added that reward difficult entries and exits. These could be limited to once per program each. GOE is not enough, especially not with the way judges hand out GOE like candy. The small incremental GOE is not worth the risk.

Some of these bonuses could be quite large, depending on how much more difficult they make the element. I'd propose something like:
30% bonus: One-foot axel into a jump, bracket into axel; one-foot double salchow into a jump (the one-foot jumps would be counted as a transition)
20% bonus: reverse walley into lutz, spread eagle directly into a jump, Ina Bauer held for 3 seconds into a jump, spiral held for 3 seconds into a jump; any combination that ends with a double/triple/quadruple loop
10% bonus: running three turns or connecting steps into any jump

I'm sure there are others. Something like this would give skaters without (multiple) quads ability to increase their base values in a way that GOE just currently isn't.

Someone in the ISU should watch old tapes and identify all of the elements we don't see any more but would love to see.
 

VGThuy

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I'd still like to see jump multipliers added that reward difficult entries and exits. These could be limited to once per program each. GOE is not enough, especially not with the way judges hand out GOE like candy. The small incremental GOE is not worth the risk.

Some of these bonuses could be quite large, depending on how much more difficult they make the element. I'd propose something like:
30% bonus: One-foot axel into a jump, bracket into axel; one-foot double salchow into a jump (the one-foot jumps would be counted as a transition)
20% bonus: reverse walley into lutz, spread eagle directly into a jump, Ina Bauer held for 3 seconds into a jump, spiral held for 3 seconds into a jump; any combination that ends with a double/triple/quadruple loop
10% bonus: running three turns or connecting steps into any jump

I'm sure there are others. Something like this would give skaters without (multiple) quads ability to increase their base values in a way that GOE just currently isn't.

Someone in the ISU should watch old tapes and identify all of the elements we don't see any more but would love to see.
I like this idea, especially the once per program. That would stop skaters from just repeating the same types of entrances for 7 jumping passes. However, I'm afraid we're going to get skaters copying each other and see the same things over, but I guess who can't help that with any sort of code-of-point system. Maybe extra points in PCS if the elements actually go with the music and enhances the program with points off for badly done or effortful looking transitions.
 

tony

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Of course kids are still going to be attempting quads, but this change does reduce the incentive to overtrain quads (or whatever other elements might be leading to injury) at a young age. The kids can also take more time to learn sustainable technique instead of rushing jumps that they can’t really rotate into a program. There will - by necessity - be more focus on having a healthy post-puberty body, rather than rushing to do everything before puberty hits. It doesn’t fix every single problem, but it’s something.
How exactly does it reduce the incentive to keep training them for the ambitious types when, as of this moment, quads are still allowed in junior programs and there is still a full junior season? There is this belief that kids will want to be more patient and learn better skating skills when I don't see it happening at all. Ambitious kids will still be ambitious kids, and the points are still heavily skewed towards the skaters with the bigger jump elements. So I think you and others are completely wishful thinking about this. I'd love to see great basics across the board, but any FSU poster knows that the PCS is going to be high if the technical elements are high.
Quitting skating to focus on college is fine; quitting skating because you need a hip replacement at 20 is not.

And a lot of things have been “a thing,” as you put it, for a long time because of the way our society commodifies the bodies of girls and women in particular. That doesn’t mean we can’t recognize those things are a problem and do a better job of protecting kids in the future.
But many come here and insist that these injuries are mostly/all because of bad technique or because of overambitious coaches or parents. Many here also have never skated or participated seriously in any kind of sport, from what it seems. You could be a lower-level skater, doing singles and maybe the occasional double, spins, and some easy footwork and still have extreme lower back pain, ankle pain, bad knees, etc. The force on the hips is always going to be there regardless of whatever the best technique in the world is.

What some people seem to constantly be asking for in these threads is for skating competitions and practice time to be extremely shut down/limited until skaters are 18 and can make their own adult decisions about how much wear and tear they want on their bodies. But this wear and tear can apply to just about every other sport as well: football, basketball, soccer, hockey, swimming, cheerleading, volleyball, etc. So what is it that people really want? All extracurricular athletics to be shut down until 18? I am not being facetious but I just don't get how injuries can be avoided, and 'spending more time on basics' or 'having better technique' still puts skaters at risk of freak injuries or long-term physical issues. ETA: and it's not as if bad technique is that easy to unlearn. We haven't seen many skaters go back to the drawing board and fix their learned techniques-- so then what? The coach and/or parent forces the young skater to stop because they have a habit of reverting back to old ways every time?

I still stick with Yamaguchi and Lipinski that changing the age isn't going to do anything for the big problems of the sport that have frequently come out more recently.
 
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VGThuy

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Has there been a link(s) to the medical commissions' various reports published that argued in favor of the age limit being raised?
 

Trillian

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How exactly does it reduce the incentive to keep training them for the ambitious types when, as of this moment, quads are still allowed in junior programs and there is still a full junior season?

If it changes, it will be for practical reasons. Skaters can overtrain all day long, win junior worlds at 14, and burn out by 18 - or they can pace themselves so that doesn’t happen. The evidence we have right now suggests that rushing the jumps at an early age isn’t sustainable in the long term, so a higher age minimum will require planning for long-term sustainability if skaters want to have any senior level success. It might have made sense for a 14-year-old to be training five quads every day before, but it would be a stupid thing to do now. No coach wants to get a reputation for training a bunch of junior champs who crash and burn when they hit seniors.

There is this belief that kids will want to be more patient and learn better skating skills when I don't see it happening at all.

I think kids will still want to win an Olympic gold medal more than they want to win a junior world title, and most won’t want to risk catastrophic injuries years before they’re eligible.

Of course this won’t eliminate all injuries, and if anything, there may be more risk for eating disorders. But it does reduce the likelihood that the younger juniors will spend a lot of time training the highest-risk elements. It also helps to address the concerns that have been raised about whether kids as young as 15 are psychologically ready to cope with Olympic pressure.

This obviously won’t fix everything that’s wrong for kids in figure skating, but I do think it will have more positive impact than doing nothing at all.
 

tony

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If it changes, it will be for practical reasons. Skaters can overtrain all day long, win junior worlds at 14, and burn out by 18 - or they can pace themselves so that doesn’t happen. The evidence we have right now suggests that rushing the jumps at an early age isn’t sustainable in the long term, so a higher age minimum will require planning for long-term sustainability if skaters want to have any senior level success. It might have made sense for a 14-year-old to be training five quads every day before, but it would be a stupid thing to do now. No coach wants to get a reputation for training a bunch of junior champs who crash and burn when they hit seniors.
But no one can really determine what 'overtraining' really is and surely it has to be different from skater to skater. If a skater is technically proficient at a young age, they will go to the next most difficult jump or element to expand upon their skills. That is, unless like I mentioned in my earlier post, you want coaches and parents to ban the young skaters from being able to move on to the next elements or working on higher-risk elements. But a double Axel is high risk at some point, and then a triple toe is high risk, and so-on. A competitive female skater is likely to have all the triples up to Lutz by the time they are 13 or 14. IMO, not all of them are going to be satisfied just sitting on that level for 3 or 4 seasons when the 3A and quads remain in the code of points.

And skaters may still decide that they want to win as much as they can, be as technically competitive as they can in juniors to set themselves up nicely for seniors, get a year or two in, and then move on to studies or being an 'adult' away from the ice rink- I think the latter is becoming increasingly important for youths in the technology age, when they see what else is really there outside the rink. This retiring early happens all the time as it is, and I don't think the waiting game is going to hold a ton of skaters in there for many years in senior when they see others with bigger elements and high scores. The sport isn't cheap, as we know.
I think kids will still want to win an Olympic gold medal more than they want to win a junior world title, and most won’t want to risk catastrophic injuries years before they’re eligible.

Of course this won’t eliminate all injuries, and if anything, there may be more risk for eating disorders. But it does reduce the likelihood that the younger juniors will spend a lot of time training the highest-risk elements. It also helps to address the concerns that have been raised about whether kids as young as 15 are psychologically ready to cope with Olympic pressure.

This obviously won’t fix everything that’s wrong for kids in figure skating, but I do think it will have more positive impact than doing nothing at all.
But skaters who want to win an Olympic medal are likely to be highly, highly competitive and motivated in their novice and junior years and I just don't seen them playing it safe with 3T and 3S or whatever until it's time to turn senior, because who really wants to play catch-up at that point? I respect your opinion, but I think you are suggesting the competitive mindset is going to shift when IMO, it won't at all.
 

victorskid

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I think @mpal2 meant that PCS should be weighed even heavier. I wonder if that and/or having bigger separations between the skaters in PCS (if it's deserved) would be better. Like no more increments of 0.25 (10-9.75-9.50-9.25-9.0-8.75-etc.) but instead like 10-9.5-9.0-8.5-8.0-etc. I have no idea.
There was a presentation about this during the meeting this week.
 

Dobre

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I respect your opinion, but I think you are suggesting the competitive mindset is going to shift when IMO, it won't at all.
The competitive mindset won't change. Training may change, however. I think coaches & athletes do take into account the need & desire for longevity. We've seen this happen with the men and with gymnastics. With the current system, longevity is falling subservient to winning in the Tutberidze camp & other camps have demonstrated that push as well. Mind you, there are guys and gymnasts who do throw out mind-blowing technical difficulty at an early age; but it's not reinforced so much when those athletes can't hang on to do it on the more prominent elite scene.
 

tony

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The competitive mindset won't change. Training may change, however. I think coaches & athletes do take into account the need & desire for longevity. We've seen this happen with the men and with gymnastics. With the current system, longevity is falling subservient to winning in the Tutberidze camp & other camps have demonstrated that push as well. Mind you, there are guys and gymnasts who do throw out mind-blowing technical difficulty at an early age; but it's not reinforced so much when those athletes can't hang on to do it on the more prominent elite scene.
But I guess what I'm getting at is how do you or I or anyone else besides the skaters themselves know what they want to do tomorrow, let alone by the time they are 18 and university/adulthood comes around? It's a hard ask to get a competitive skater to just slow everything down for the sake of maybe wanting to last in the sport past 18, which basically makes it a full-time career at that point. And if the skaters want the longevity, they often have to either be from A) a big skating nation with funding to throw around- which goes to the top athletes who do have the results or B) from a wealthy family, especially in the case of smaller Federations.

I know my interests shifted from the time I was a young teen to the time I was off the college the first time, and I know it's no different for competitive athletes. So then it becomes the predicament of questioning why one should be held back for 'longevity' or whatever else when the skater might decide they want to transition out of skating sooner than later anyways.

And sometimes skaters with crazy, questionable technique last competitively until they are 30 and the skaters who have brilliant qualities all-around, including the foundations, are plagued with constant injury. It just happens that way.
 
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Trillian

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I respect your opinion, but I think you are suggesting the competitive mindset is going to shift when IMO, it won't at all.

I think Ilia Malinin has commented that he’s not really training or focusing on the quad-quad combos because there’s too much risk and he doesn’t need them. That’s the kind of logic I expect to see (particularly from coaches) - because it just doesn’t make sense to take big unnecessary risks when there are plenty of other things besides rotations that a skater can work on improving in the meantime.

I respect your opinion too, and I get that the data is fuzzy and every kid is different and goals will change. But if I’m a coach and I’ve got a talented 11-year-old skater who says right now that she wants to go to the Olympics someday, I would change the plan knowing that her first shot will be at 19 instead of 15. We may not have perfect data, but I do think we have enough to make those kinds of adjustments.
 

beckab81

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Ambitious kids may always push the limits, I don't think that will change. I do think that coaching will change as everyone gets used to the new timelines. We used to see junior gymnasts from some gyms throwing the hardest vaults at age 12, and most of them burned out/retired due to injury issues before they could make it to seniors. Now the top juniors from those same gyms are doing lower difficulty skills until they're ready to move up to seniors. I don't think the kids now are less talented/driven, but they are being trained differently, and I haven't seen as many incredible juniors burn out. They still can win Jr Worlds and other competitions, but that's not what they are trying to peak for.

I know gymnastics & FS aren't exactly the same (gymnasts have college competition to look forward to, but I suspect over the next 4-5 years we'll start to see some changes in coaching, and 12 year old's training quads will become less common. Hopefully there will be additional changes made to support better training methods - the age change alone won't make all the bad scenarios go away.
 

MacMadame

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Well, they could reduce the number of jumping passes allowed in the programs.
I really think that's the only way. If jumps were as easy as spins, then everyone would have quads. So you have to reward those that do as it is a sport, after all. There is some room for rewarding really excellent spins that hardly anyone can do but I think the system does that or Lambiel and Brown wouldn't have done as well as they did.

If two skaters are close in skating skills but one is like slightly better (really if they're within 0.25 then who can really tell?), how do we really know that skater is actually 0.25 or 0.75 better? I don't mind if they end up having the same score or a 0.5-1.0 difference.
I would like to see the average rounded up in .25 increments. If one skater gets 5.69 in SS and another gets 5.61, is there really any discernable difference between them? I think not.

I like this idea, especially the once per program. That would stop skaters from just repeating the same types of entrances for 7 jumping passes. However, I'm afraid we're going to get skaters copying each other and see the same things over, but I guess who can't help that with any sort of code-of-point system.
It's human nature to copy what you like. We saw that with certain kinds of spirals back in the 6.0 days. If IJS wants to discourage that, they could have rules about how often something can be repeated in one program. But they can't stop every skater from skating to the same music because a movie was popular or copying a cool move they saw their favorite skater do.

But this wear and tear can apply to just about every other sport as well: football, basketball, soccer, hockey, swimming, cheerleading, volleyball, etc.
It can but do 11-year-olds really need a private pitching coach when they are playing in Little League? I would say, "No" and I want a system that doesn't reward that kind of extremism in every sport, not just skating.

And sometimes skaters with crazy, questionable technique last competitively until they are 30 and the skaters who have brilliant qualities all-around, including the foundations, are plagued with constant injury. It just happens that way.
Yes, there is always one of these and one of those. But how many people are in each bucket? The researchers had data that told that story. I'm happy to debate that data. For all I know, much of the research is flawed. But I would be surprised.

IME when I was trying to get Worlds and Nationals an older athlete (i.e., not an elite one or a pro, more like the people who skate at Adult Nationals in the Championship rounds), that most injuries are overuse injuries. The freak ones do happen. But even then some of them aren't really freak accidents. If someone is training a jump over and over that they don't really have and often landing more than a quarter turn off and even a half turn, if they break their ankle jumping, is that really a freak accident? It was caused by poor training methods and overdoing it.

As for what is overtraining, of course, it varies. If everyone is training 20 hours a week but your body can only take 10 and you train for 15, you are overtraining. Over time, serious athletes learn what their bodies can handle and, if they want to be successful long-term, they adjust.
 

Bouffantrex

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This isn't rocket science. The long program should go back to its "free skate" origins.

Lose the hideous leveled step sequence, cap the jumping passes to 5, include one of two non-leveled spins, and place more emphasis on program composition. And judging the components correctly would be a nice start.

The short program can remain as is: a technical program. It would be nice to have a little variation between the short program and long program, instead of a combined 7 minutes of IJS clutter.

As for the age limits, it is an acceptable first step. Disappointed in Yamaguchi's response. Not surprised by Tara's.
 

leilaofpaper

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Look regardless of the issues with training too much earlier or starving off puberty or what have you - I agree with the statement I’ve seen before on this matter.

Kids should be competing against kids, Adults should be competing against adults.

Someone is at their peak at 15? Great, they get to compete against other fifteen year olds who are also at their peak.

And for all we talk about junior worlds let’s face it - the Olympics is the goal for most skaters. The Youth Olympics don’t get anywhere near the same prestige. So this will change training habits.
 

leilaofpaper

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Also of note re the last season: if the 17 years old rule had been in place we would’ve been spared all the Ilia/Jason controversy. Ilia was born after July 1st
 

Coco

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I am curious how economic factors will impact this new age rule. It's one thing for parents to shell out thousands of dollars for their teenager, quite another for them to do so for their young adult. The support skaters get for being on the national team is not really enough, to say nothing of the consequences of missing a year for injury.

I wonder if USFSA has looked into feasibility of more national training centers, or residency type shows in Las Vegas or Branson, Missouri or other tourist destinations. Those shows would at least give skaters opportunities to make some money and get free ice time.

Starting in 2007, I think the economic stresses on many in the United States have really hurt the sport here. It will be interesting to see how this age limit plays out.

In gymnastics, there is always the option of that college scholarship, or partial scholarship. People can shoot for elite because they have that safety net of NCAA gymnastics to make the money and time worthwhile.
 

Orm Irian

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I am curious how economic factors will impact this new age rule. It's one thing for parents to shell out thousands of dollars for their teenager, quite another for them to do so for their young adult.
Plenty of them seem to shell our for young adults quite happily right now. If they do it when the young adults in question are male (or ice dancers), why wouldn't they do it when they're female too?

Access to prize money and federation funding keeps coming up in the conversation around this change, but I think it's actually pretty much irrelevant to the discussion. Approximately 99.3% of skaters never win a cent of prize money in their entire careers and most get a pittance from their feds and NOCs if they're lucky. Earning nothing at 15 is the same as earning nothing at 17, 19, 24 and 29 - standard operationg procedure.
 

leilaofpaper

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Oh I did want to mention something on the topic of faking ages. How do we know that wasn’t already being done to make sure people were on the right side of 15 for olympic years? Trusova, for instance, has a birthday 8 days before the cutoff. if she was born nine days later don’t you think they would’ve changed it?
 

Dai's Blues for Klook

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Again, I support the new age limit. Still think it's not nearly as clear cut as being "right" or "wrong". We can only argue our position until one of the sides is proven to be (more) right (than the other). The side that won is in part being driven by hope. I think Yamaguchi and Lipinski are both making good points.

(posted in the wrong thread, so brought it here)
 

lexeoe

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Oh I did want to mention something on the topic of faking ages. How do we know that wasn’t already being done to make sure people were on the right side of 15 for olympic years? Trusova, for instance, has a birthday 8 days before the cutoff. if she was born nine days later don’t you think they would’ve changed it?
I agree about this. They may not falsify years, but they can falsify to ensure they fall within the required timeline. If they they've done it and wasn't caught, what's stopping them from doing it.
 

Dai's Blues for Klook

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I agree about this. They may not falsify years, but they can falsify to ensure they fall within the required timeline. If they they've done it and wasn't caught, what's stopping them from doing it.
They'll have to start right away, seeing that some Russian girls tend to be publicised as early as 6 or 8. I'd like to point out though, that while against the rule in the book, someone missing the cut-off by days is an entirely different debate, not what the rule intends to stop.

Are we expecting anyone to be grandfathered this time around?
Why would anyone need to be? The 17 year old rule is only going to come in place by the 2024-25 season. It remains 15 this coming season, and becomes 16 during the 2023-24 season.
 
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