In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In mid-June, the International Skating Union gave a one-year suspension to Huang Feng of China for showing “obvious and systematic” national bias in his judging of the pairs event at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The first weekend of July, the international federation allowed Huang not only to attend an important ISU seminar on the ramifications of recent scoring system changes but also to take – and pass – a test for promotion as a technical controller, an event official's position that can have an even bigger impact on the outcome of a competition than a judge.

Huh?

The ISU willingly provided me an answer to that befuddling question, but the logic in the answer smacks of relative ethics in an area where absolute ethics are demanded.  The bureaucratic hair-splitting involved simply is unacceptable.

And the ISU's "discipline" of the miscreant judge gives skating fans yet another reason to wonder if they can ever trust the results in this highly subjective sport.

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And, before we say goodbye to icenetwork, our favorite stories

And, before we say goodbye to icenetwork, our favorite stories

We asked icenetwork reporters past and present to pick out their favorite article they've written for this us and explain why it was so special to them.

Mine involved finding a fresh angle in 2017 on the skater who was then the sport’s newest sensation - and who now is the world champion.

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Balancing act: Skating officials moved to find better harmony between artistry and athleticism in the sport

Balancing act: Skating officials moved to find better harmony between artistry and athleticism in the sport

Quadruple jumps were limited, the practice of backloading programs to gain bonus points was severely curtailed, and neither a major conflict-of-interest issue nor raising the minimum age for senior competitions was even approved for discussion.

Those were the major takeaways from the biennial International Skating Union congress last week in Seville, Spain.

But the impact of what did -- and did not -- happen at the 57th ISU Ordinary Congress will likely be far less significant than the ramifications of ISU Communication No. 2168 (pdf), issued 10 days before the congress began.

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Outgoing U.S. skating president says team's poor Olympic performance scared people

Outgoing U.S. skating president says team's poor Olympic performance scared people

Samuel Auxier's four-year term as U.S. Figure Skating president ends Saturday with the election of his successor during the annual Governing Council meeting in Orlando.

Auxier, an international judge, will continue to serve the organization as past president and possibly as head of its International Committee.

With the exception of ice dance, in which U.S. couples have been consistent medal winners at junior and senior global championships for more than a decade, Auxier has presided over four years that have brought decidedly mixed results for U.S. skaters.

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games was a low point for U.S. ladies and pairs, bringing the lowest placement ever for the top U.S. woman (ninth; sixth was the previous low) and the lowest aggregate finish at any of the 16 Olympics in which the U.S. had three women entered; and the lowest placement ever for the top (and, in this case, only) U.S. pair (15th; previous low was 10th).

At 15 global championships since 2006, the U.S. has won just one singles medal at the Olympics (Evan Lysacek's 2010 gold) and four at worlds (golds by Lysacek in 2009 and Nathan Chen this year, bronze by Johnny Weir in 2008 and silver by Ashley Wagner in 2016). The U.S. has not won a ladies medal at the world junior championships since 2012 and has not had a woman at the Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013.

With all that in mind, icenetwork sat down last month with Auxier to get his thoughts on the state of the sport in the United States.

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An old debate about the young in figure skating heats up again: is it time to raise the minimum age for seniors?

An old debate about the young in figure skating heats up again: is it time to raise the minimum age for seniors?

Is it time to raise the age minimum for singles figure skaters in senior international competition?

Rafael Arutunian thinks so. The coach of the only two U.S. skaters to win senior World Championship medals since 2009 brought up the idea unprompted during our lengthy recent conversation at his training base south of Los Angeles.

For a number of reasons, including health, career longevity and competitive equity, Arutunian favors a minimum age of 18 for senior men and women rather than the current 15.

“Everyone now talks about jumping too much and people starting to damage themselves,” Arutunian said.  “How do you want to stop that?  In my mind, there is only one way: not allow them to compete (at seniors) until 18.

“If I am 12 years old, and I know real money is after 18, do you think I will do too many quads, or I will do just enough quads to win and save my body for later?”

Several other coaches and skaters contacted by phone, email or text message, including Alexei Mishin of Russia, Brian Orser of Canada and Tom Zakrajsek of the U.S., agreed with Arutunian, especially where female skaters are concerned.

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