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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Comings, goings and questions as coach Rafael Arutunian looks to next season

Comings, goings and questions as coach Rafael Arutunian looks to next season

LAKEWOOD, Calif. -- In an upstairs locker room at Lakewood ICE, a skating facility with three rinks 21 miles south of Los Angeles, each dressing stall has a plate above it with the name of a figure skater or coach who regularly trains or teaches there.

On a recent afternoon early in what passes for the (brief) off-season in figure skating, odds and ends of clothing lay in the dressing stalls assigned to Team USA members Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner, Adam Rippon and Mariah Bell. Michal Březina of the Czech Republic and Romain Ponsart of France have their fair share of personal belongings in the locker room as well, as do their coaches, Rafael Arutunian and Nadia Kanaeva.

Which of those skaters will be using the stalls next season remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: there definitely will be some new ones working with the only person who has coached U.S. singles skaters to World Championships medals since 2009 - Chen's gold last month and Wagner's silver in 2016.

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With tweaks, proposed figure skating changes make sense

With tweaks, proposed figure skating changes make sense

It used to be that the start of the Grand Prix Series marked the start of a figure skating season.

The first Grand Prix event of this Olympic season still is three weeks away, but so much already happened, on the ice in Challenger Series events and away from it with discussions of change in format and scoring, that it’s already time to offer some observations on the sport’s present and future.

I will do it in two parts, one today and one tomorrow.

Let’s start with some thoughts on the potential scoring and program changes I revealed in an icenetwork exclusive Sept. 11.  A top International Skating Union official called the changes "radical" and part of an effort to help figure skating regain some of its past popularity after its rapid decline everywhere but Asia, especially Japan, without whose fans the sport would be reeling toward irrelevance.

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Takeaways: Chen, Honda set themselves apart from skating peers

Takeaways:  Chen, Honda set themselves apart from skating peers

SALT LAKE CITY - Here are six takeaways from the 2017 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, which marked the real start of the Olympic season.

1. Nathan Chen stood out last season, not only for succeeding on history-making quadruple jumps but also for accepting the risk to attempt them.

He stood out in his first competition of this Olympic season, the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, by taking some musical risk while most singles skaters are playing it safe with old warhorses like TurandotCarmenPhantom of the Opera, et al., ad nauseam.

Chen let his choreographers -- Shae-Lynn Bourne (who did his short program to the Benjamin Clementine version of "Nemesis") and Lori Nichol (who used the score from the film Mao's Last Dancer, with its powerful passage from Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, to craft his free skate) -- pick the music.

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ISU proposes "radical change" to rebalance figure skating's artistry and athleticism

ISU proposes "radical change" to rebalance figure skating's artistry and athleticism

A top official at the International Skating Union said the organization is looking at "radical change" in figure skating in order to achieve a better balance between the athletic and artistic sides of the sport.

The change would involve substantially lowering the base values of quadruple jumps and, for pairs, quadruple throws. For three of the five quads being done in men's singles, the reduction would be more than 10 percent, according to proposed numbers obtained by icenetwork.

"This is the direction line I am working on with the intent to make a radical change for the future development of the sport, hoping to bring back the popularity that figure skating used to have in the past," Italy's Fabio Bianchetti, the chair of the ISU Single & Pair Skating Committee, wrote in an email.

Another change may include replacing the current short program and free skate with what would effectively be an athletic program and an artistic program. Each would award full medals in events like the Olympics and the world championships, and there also would be a full medal for the all-around winner.

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