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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With gold, silver and a rich vein to mine, Russian domination of women's skating has just begun

With gold, silver and a rich vein to mine, Russian domination of women's skating has just begun

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - On the day before Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva made Russian history by taking the gold and silver ladies medals at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, video began circulating of what one of their younger compatriots had done thousands of miles away.

In Thursday's free skate at the Cup of Russia junior final in the western Russian city of Veliky Novgorod, a 13-year-old, Alexandra Trusova, landed a clean, impressive quadruple salchow -- and Trusova did not even win the event.

The confluence of those skating achievements within about 24 hours of each other is evidence enough that no matter what you call them, be it Olympic Athletes from Russia or anything else, the Russian domination of women's figure skating has just begun.

"It is the beginning of a wave, and they are going to be good for years to come," 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie said.

Four years after Adelina Sotnikova became the first Russian woman to win the Olympic title, the country has two women on the Olympic singles podium for the first time.

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IOC dips an OAR in the water for symbolic 2018 Olympic punishment of Russian doping

IOC dips an OAR in the water for symbolic 2018 Olympic punishment of Russian doping

Let’s get this straight at the outset.

The International Olympic Committee’s unprecedented Tuesday decision on Russian participation at the 2018 Winter Olympics is, as yet, no big deal in any way eventual followers of the upcoming Games will find significant.

The IOC did not ban Russian athletes for the country’s involvement in systemic doping.  It banned a symbol, depriving Russia of the chance to show its flag or have its medalists honored with their national anthem or wear the country’s name on their uniforms.  Russian athletes undoubtedly will win medals of all colors, and, despite all the feel-good mantras about participating in the Olympics, results are what count.

Yes, it’s the first time such an action has been taken against an entire country because of doping.

But the IOC already has made its most important decisions regarding Russian Winter Olympic athletes by banning and taking medals from many involved in manipulation of tests at the Sochi Olympics.  If all these athletes lose their medals after appeals are exhausted, it will knock down Russia’s official medal count for the 2014 Olympics from 33 to 22.

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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.