International figure skating officials finally get the message and act on conflicts of interest

International figure skating officials finally get the message and act on conflicts of interest

 For nearly two years, I have loudly and pointedly decried the conflict of interest inherent in allowing presidents of national figure skating federations to judge significant events in the sport.

For most of that time, the cries fell on deaf ears.

Here is my story raising the issue in November 2017.  And here was another when feckless International Skating Union members – led by Skate Canada – voted against evening putting the issue to a vote at its 2018 Congress.

The cases I brought up involved Skate Canada president Leanna Caron, who has shamelessly continued her activities as a judge, and former U.S. Figure Skating president Sam Auxier, who recused himself from judging major events during his presidency but still judged others “with the ISU’s permission.”

But lo and behold, the ISU appears finally to have gotten the message.

Read More

For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

TORONTO – She was not supposed to be sitting here, in a coach’s office at a skating club in Canada. Yevgenia Medvedeva is Russian, just 18 years old, figure skating world champion in 2016 and 2017, and only eight months ago winner of the singles silver medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Barely two months after the Olympics, she left her Russian coach of 10 years, Eteri Tutberidze, who had guided her to the top of the figure skating world, for reasons Medvedeva has not discussed except in general terms. The move she made was startling and utterly unexpected.

Star Russian skaters stay in Russia. Never before had one of the sport’s pre-eminent Russians left the country to train with a non-Russian coach. Not since Michelle Kwan in 2001 had a skater with a career record as brilliant on the world and Olympic level as Medvedeva’s made such a dramatic coaching change, and Kwan did it without leaving her native California.

But Medvedeva felt she had no other choice after a tumultuous 2018 season that did not end with the Olympic gold medal she had seemed a lock to win.

Read More

Feckless ISU members vote to keep allowing indefensible judging conflict of interest in figure skating

Feckless ISU members vote to keep allowing indefensible judging conflict of interest in figure skating

This is all you have to know about the International Skating Union’s commitment to integrity in judging of figure skating.

The ISU members voted Monday morning at their biennial Congress to continue allowing an unconscionable conflict of interest in the sport without even any discussion on the matter.

Thanks to a move from Skate Canada, whose president’s ethical equivocation created the need for action, the feckless ISU members removed from the Congress agenda an urgent proposal preventing federation presidents from judging major international events.

Read More

Out of his funk, Jason Brown moves forward with a big change

Out of his funk, Jason Brown moves forward with a big change

Even before he failed to make the 2018 Olympic team, Jason Brown sensed the time had come for him to make a significant change.

Part of such a change was bound to seem momentous, given that the 2014 Olympian had spent his entire 18-year figure skating career with the same coach, Kori Ade. Once Brown graduated high school, he followed Ade from the Chicago suburbs to Monument, Colorado.

"Kori is like a second mom to me," Brown said via telephone from Toronto. "That's what made it hard to take the next jump."

It was quite the leap.

Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, announced Tuesday he was moving to the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, where coach Brian Orser presides over a group of singles skaters that next season also will include: two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan; two-time world bronze medalist Boyang Jin of China; two-time world champion and 2018 Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia; 2017 world bronze medalist Gabrielle Daleman of Canada; 13-year-old phenom Stephen Gogolev of Canada; and, occasionally, two-time world champion Javier Fernández of Spain, torn between full competitive retirement and the idea of trying for a seventh straight European title.

Being on the ice with such skaters will be a tremendous change for Brown, who was by far the most accomplished skater at his rinks in Illinois and Colorado.

"I have never been long term in a place with a ton of high-level people, so I really have no idea what that environment will be like," Brown said. "I'm very internally driven, so it has never been a huge piece for me to be in a place like that for motivation.

"At the same time, I couldn't be more excited and honored to train alongside some of the greatest skaters in the world. Can I learn from them? I hope so. I'm turning a page, and the future awaits."

Read More

In needed move to prevent federation figure skating heads from judging, ISU still needs to go further

In needed move to prevent federation figure skating heads from judging, ISU still needs to go further

The International Skating Union’s biennial congress early next month will consider a proposal that might have been unnecessary if the top Canadian figure skating federation official had a more accurate ethical compass.

So you can call Urgent Proposal No. 6 the Leanna Caron Rule, since the proposal obviously was spurred largely by the actions of Skate Canada president Caron.

The proposal, submitted by the ISU Council, is a move in the right direction toward eliminating conflicts of interest that can undermine confidence in judging of this highly subjective sport.  Hopefully, it will pass.

But it doesn’t go quite far enough.

And the ISU needs to change another regulation so it can go further.

Read More