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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Asada's legacy of grace and grit will last forever.

Asada's legacy of grace and grit will last forever.

Whenever I saw Mao Asada skate well, which she did often, I was reminded of the second line in one of the most famous arias in the operatic canon, "La Donna è Mobile," from Verdi's Rigoletto.

When you get past the trope of the aria's title and opening verse, which scoffs at women for being flighty, you come to the nature of the flight: "qual piuma al vento" -- like a feather in the wind.

That is the best description for the way Asada moved on the ice, even in the later years of her career, when she added the mature elegance of a woman in her mid-20s to the jump that had separated her from nearly every other woman in the sport over the length of that career.

She became lighter than air.

That is how I will remember Asada, who announced her retirement Monday at the age of 26. The timing was a surprise, even if her struggling performances and knee problems over the past two seasons made it clear the time had come.

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U.S. Figure Skating head wants Russia out of 2018 Winter Games

KANSAS CITY - U.S. Figure Skating President Sam Auxier said Thursday that Russia should not be allowed to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games because of the doping scandal that has enveloped the country's athletes.

Auxier added that the integrity of both the International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union hinged on issuing a stiff penalty against the Russians.

"I mean, it's state sponsored. ... It was a huge program, well coordinated, to cheat, and they should pay a pretty stiff penalty," Auxier said during a press conference at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. "I think the only way the IOC and the ISU maintain any level of integrity is to take a strong stand and weigh a strong penalty for those actions."

Auxier joins Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, as one of the few sports federation heads in the world to take such a strong position on the issue of Russia's Olympic participation.

In saying all Russian athletes should be excluded, Auxier even went a step further than IAAF leader Coe, who called only for Russia's track and field athletes to be banned from the Rio Summer Olympics. Only one Russian track and field athlete was allowed to compete in Rio.

No Russian figure skaters have been officially implicated in doping allegations that could involve as many as 1,000 Russian athletes in summer and winter sports, according to an independent investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

But 2014 Olympic ladies champion Adelina Sotnikova is reportedly one of 28 athletes under investigation by the IOC for a doping sample that was among those allegedly manipulated in the Russian anti-doping lab in Sochi.

The manipulation allegedly involved tampering with sample bottles to fill them with drug-free urine. Scratches on the bottles are seen as evidence of tampering, and the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that a bottle containing Sotnikova's sample had been identified as one of those with the scratches.

There is no evidence she was involved in or aware of any such tampering.

Sotnikova is the first Russian woman to win Olympic singles gold.

Should Sotnikova be banned, Gracie Gold would inherit the bronze medal, with Yu-Na Kim of South Korea getting gold and Carolina Kostner of Italy the silver.


Yu-Na Kim, Yuzuru Hanyu, Javi Fernandez and friends: how the Toronto Cricket Club became skating mecca

TORONTO - Put more than a dozen highly decorated figure skaters on the same practice ice at the same time, and there is bound to be some friendly in-your-face stuff.

Yuzuru Hanyu, Javier Fernández and Nam Nguyen will do quadruple jump after quadruple jump, each trying not to be the first to pop a jump or fall. Gabrielle Daleman and Sonia Lafuente will do the same with triples.

What each wants most, though, is to do well enough that Brian Orser, or one of his fellow coaches at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, rings the 16-inch brass bell that hangs outside the glassed-in, computerized music room on one side of the ice surface.

That sound is the reward for anyone who does a clean run-through of a competitive program in practice.

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