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.

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Breathtaking Olympic performances highlighted figure skating season

Breathtaking Olympic performances highlighted figure skating season

Some random observations on the competitive figure skating season that ended last week at the World Championships in Milan:

1.  The enduring memory will be of the overall excellence at the 2018 Olympics – the best skating in all four disciplines at the 11 Winter Games I have covered.

The full flowering of the quad revolution led to boggling feats in the men’s event, where Japan’s peerless Yuzuru Hanyu won a second straight Olympic title with a balance between athleticism and art unmatched by any man during the 14-seasons the IJS has been used at global championships.

Russians Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva were flawlessly stunning in taking gold and silver, respectively, in the women’s event, and Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond won bronze with her huge jumps, expressiveness and sense of choreographic purpose erasing one relatively minor mistake.

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Figure skating worlds in Olympic year? I say no

Figure skating worlds in Olympic year?  I say no

With the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships set to begin this week in Milan, Italy, icenetwork contributors Lynn Rutherford and Philip Hersh weigh the pros and cons of having the world championships take place during an Olympic season.

Why the World Championships in the Olympic year should be eliminated

*They are a massive anti-climax. Other sports get that. Of the 15 Winter Olympic sports, only hockey, curling and speed skating still have world championships in the Olympic year -- but long track speed skating does not have World Single Distance, its global championship that follows the Olympic format. Hockey's format includes more and different teams and a different pool of athletes (NHL players whose teams are out of playoffs.)

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With time on her side, Alina Zagitova, a young woman vibrant in red, catches' judges fancy

With time on her side, Alina Zagitova, a young woman vibrant in red, catches' judges fancy

As the Olympic figure skating season moves into the national championship phase, a few more observations about the Grand Prix season and Grand Prix Final:

1.  All you Alina Zagitova detractors (that includes you, CBC) aren’t going to like this: the new Grand Prix Final winner, age 15, looks better every time I see her.

Part of it owes to the costuming and free skate program pattern that emphasize her strengths, which are jumps.

The vibrant red in the tutu-qua-dress and long gloves Zagitova wears grabs the eye, says she is portraying a ballerina and limns her movement so beautifully it is easy to forget she does no jumps in the first half of the four-minute free skate to the Russian ballet classic, “Don Quixote.”  And while I hope the rules are changed to eliminate such 100 percent back loading, who can fault her coaches for taking advantage of the point bonus that comes with those jumps?

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ISU warns Skate Canada for potentially "damaging" appearance of gift linked to its star ice dancer, Tessa Virtue

ISU warns Skate Canada for potentially "damaging" appearance of gift linked to its star ice dancer, Tessa Virtue

The International Skating Union has called Canada’s figure skating federation on the carpet for its decision to give earrings from a jewelry line created by Canadian ice dance champion Tessa Virtue as welcome gifts to skaters, judges and other officials at the Grand Prix event in Regina, Saskkatchwan last month.

The ISU’s action was prompted by a Nov. 10, 2017 Globetrotting post headlined, “Did Skate Canada lose virtue with gift pushing star skater’s brand?”

In a letter to ISU members and office holders dated Wednesday, Nov. 29, the international federation said it had sent the Canadian federation, Skate Canada, “a warning and request to abstain from similar initiatives in the future.”

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