The Russian Dolls Have Transformed Figure Skating.... in the Guardian


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I do think there are some good points in there but I hate it when people tout their own preferences for style as if that's what all fans want. They also talk a lot about how the girls are used up and pushed out but they don't really talk about how fans contribute to this environment vs. the scoring system vs. physical realities. For example, they never mention that the reason young girls are training these hard jumps is that they want to get them before puberty because of the belief that you can't learn them after that. And also that sports are about faster, higher, stronger so if you don't train them, someone else will. Because it certainly contributes to the situation they were describing.
All good points.

Personally (and I admit this is my personal preference) I would like to see scoring rules/program content rules adjusted so that skaters could find rewards for pushing the sport forward in directions other than more revolutions in the air (and flexibility-based positions). More emphasis on blade-to-ice skills and more variety in types of jump difficulty rewarded would allow more skaters with a wider variety of body types to excel.

Whether the "artistic" areas of program components should also be a way to push the sport forward or to earn points to offset technical content is a different story. That may be where separate emphases in separate programs would come in.

What I'm really talking about is more emphasis on pushing the difficulty of different kinds of technical skills that focus more on varied ways of controlling the blades on the ice.

Lipinsky was a direct cause of raising the age limits. There was a lot of discussion at the time about young bodies and her hip issue with the end result being an actual rule change. People's memories are selective and sometimes say more about their own issues than about what actually happened.
It is certainly true that people's memories can be selective about what actually happened. ;)

The rule to set the minimum age for senior competition at 15 as of the previous July 1 was set at the 1996 ISU Congress, effective for the 1997 season, with some exceptions.

During the 1996 season, Tara Lipinski finished 5th at Junior Worlds and 15th at Worlds. She had not yet experienced or at least not yet publicized the hip issue that became a talking point after her Olympic win and retirement from eligible competition. She also had not yet won anything of note.

People could certainly have seen that she was doing quite well for her age, and that at 13 she still looked a lot younger and smaller than most 13-year-olds, and anticipated that she would do even better at 14 and 15 while still looking like a little girl. So she might certainly have been on the rule makers' minds when they made that rule. But probably no more so than Oksana Baiul and most recently Michelle Kwan, who had actually won world titles at 15, younger than the new rules would allow.

There was a grandfather clause, which was the only reason why Lipinski was allowed to compete as a senior in the 1997 season. But she was not the only skater affected by that clause (Evgeny Plushenko, Evgenia Filonenko, Eva-Marie Fitze also come to mind), some of whom would also have been too young for the 1998 season without that provision. Lipinski at least was old enough for seniors in 1998, but her experience might have been significantly different without two previous senior seasons along with a world title under her belt.

Then there was also the exception for junior world medalists being allowed to compete as seniors even if otherwise too young. That one lasted through 2000, and the biggest beneficiary of that rule while it lasted was probably Sarah Hughes, who otherwise would have made her senior debut 1 rather than 3 years before her Olympic season.
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“Skating has had child stars – Tara Lipinski, Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes – but they weren’t pushed out of the sport because they couldn’t keep up with the technical demands,” Korpi says.

Awww, honey. Bless your heart.


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No one is technically (no pun intended) being pushed out of the sport unless they are looking at it from a level the playing field perspective, and that goes both ways, imo.

Pushing a skater out of the sport because they cannot keep up technically is no more flagrant than pushing or keeping out of the sport (via rule change), a skater considered to be too young and far more susceptible to injury

If they raise the age limit, what is fair about that? What lies beneath the surface, is the desire to provide a perceived comfort zone or to suggest this is the only way you can get an adult to win over the child.

By law in some countries, 17 is still considered a child, not an adult. Therefore, to be taken seriously and not hypocritically, the age limit should be raised to 18. Even that is problematic when factoring in who’s considered an adult (and when) in various countries around the world. Heck, why not raise it to 21? That way, when a skater wins a significant competition or title, they can legally (w/ some exceptions) toast the win :40beers: (at least in parts of the USA).


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In fact, why not make it seniors from the age of 25 or 30. I mean, I real life when we talk about senior citizens, it is people around 65 or 70 or even older.

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