Radical ice skating reforms proposed by Cinquanta to rein in Dutch domination and judging scandals

 

A series of measures have been proposed by International Skating Union (ISU) President Ottavio Cinquanta in order to reform figure skating and speed skating in the wake of criticism over the judging and composition of each sport.

In a letter to members of the ISU’s Governing Council as well as to various technical committees, reprted by the Chicago Tribune and various newspapers in the Netherlands, Cinquanta outlines various “personal opinions” which he requests are given “serious consideration”.

In figure skating, this involves scrapping the short programme which forms the first half of each competition because “no other sports are based on two segments”.

The 75-year-old would also make all dances across singles, pairs, dance and team performances last the same time, while the scoring system would be simplified to make it more understandable.

While short-track speed skating would be left unscathed, the two longest long-track speed skating events, 5,000 metres for women and 10,000 for men, would be removed because they are  “not attractive distances for the majority of the skaters and television viewers.”

As has been pioneered at the Winter Youth Olympic Gamess, Cinquanta is also keen to add a mass start event, while his letter proposed changing the Olympic track size from 400 to 250 metres because of the cost of building facilities to accommodate the larger rink.

His revised Olympic programme would also eliminate the 1,000m and turn the 500m into a single race rather than the aggregate time of two, and he added that with these changes there would no longer be a need for the sport’s oldest competition, the World All-Around Championships, or the World Sprint Championships.

These proposed changes come after fears over the extent of domination by the Netherlands during last month’s Olympics, with the European nation winning 23 of 32 possible medals and eight of 12 possible golds,

This is “a sign of high concern”, claimed Cinquanta, who proposes limiting the amount of skaters in each event to two to avoid the Dutch clean sweeps and the 1-2-3-4 finishes seen at Sochi 2014.

The Olympics was also tainted by more criticism of figure skating judging – an issue that has dogged Cinquanta throughout his 20 years at the helm of the ISU – with a petition protesting the results of the ladies competition gaining over two million supporters and an official complaint from the South Korean Olympic Committee.

After defending champion Kim Yuna was surprisingly beaten by Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, it emerged that one of the nine judges, Ukraine’s Yuri Balkov, had previously been suspended for a year after being recorded trying to fix an event at Nagano 1998.

Another judge, Alla Shekhovtseva, is the wife of the former President and current general director of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Valentin Piseev.

But, in his letter, Cinquanta also maintains that the judges scoring should remain anonymous so that “nobody can detect which score has been decided by which judge”.

With Cinquanta having announced last year that he would step down as President at the ISU Congress in 2016, these measures can be taken as an attempt to leave a personal legacy on the sport long after his departure.

This is something he referred to in the letter when he wrote that “many of us might conclude their sport career, at least the one with the ISU”, in 2016.But Cinquanta also added that he feels the proposed changes are “the most important initiatives for the future of the ISU.”

This article first appeared in www.insidethegames.biz and is reproduced with permission.
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