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French Federation Seeks Changes to ISU Championships Qualifications

(26 August 2012)  At the 2012 ISU Congress, the members agreed to a proposal to eliminate qualifying rounds from the World Championships.  Following the Congress, the ISU issued a communication specifying new minimum TES scores skaters must meet to participate in ISU Championships.  These scores are substantially higher than last season, and in the absence of any other actions by the ISU, would significantly reduce the number of competitors at the 2013 World Championships.

In mid-August the Israel Ice Skate Federation wrote to ISU members raising concerns about the fairness of this new policy.  In this letter, federation president Boris Chait, pointed out that the new minimum scores are equivalent to the scores earned by the middle third of skaters at the 2012 World Championships.  He went on to say this policy discriminates against skaters who are not in the top tier of competitive skating and is contrary to the spirit of the rules.

In response to the letter from the Israel Federation, Didier Gailhaguet, President of the French Ice Sport Federation, has distributed the following letter to the ISU Council and ISU members.

Letter from French Ice Skate Federation to ISU Members

In his letter Gailhaguet attempt to find a middle ground between those who want to limit the Championships to a manageable number of elite skaters, and those who want maximum opportunity for members to participate in the championships.  He acknowledges the difficult situation the changes made to the qualification method have created.  He accepts that the Israeli request to reduce the minimum TES score is a short term solution, but one he does not appear to fully embrace.

The French Federation proposes instead a revision to the qualification process adopted at the June Congress as follows:

  • To delete the New Minimum Technical Scores and stay with the previous scores in principle because small changes are made anyway every year and are subject to ISU Communication informations.
  • To change the name of the Qualifying rounds to Semi-Finals
  • To hold the Semi-Finals the same way as the Qualifying rounds were held the last seasons (one event based on the free skating and the free dance)
  • To keep the Semi-Finals at each of the 4 major ISU Championships when the number or participants is sufficiently high, on the basis of the rules currently in force.
  • To consider single & pair & dance competitors who do not proceed to the final stages as having been an integral part of the Championships and classify them according to the scores obtained.
  • To keep the sum of the short program and long program as the Final of the event
  • To classify the skaters who reached the Final of the event on top of the ones who did not.

It is not clear from the letter, however, what immediate action the French Federation is requesting.

 In his letter, Gailhaguet states that "In short, I can see only positive outcomes of showing greater recognition for the work performed by all of the different member-countries, including the more modest of these, all by way of an extremely simple decision that I believe could be one of the major amendments emanating from the next ISU Congress, unless a legal means could be found to process this decision more quickly."

 It would appear Gailhaguet views his proposal as a work in progress that he would like presented at the next congress, but would also like it adopted sooner if a mechanism was available to do so.  It is also not clear if his goal is to make any changes to the qualification method used at the 2013 championships, such as to immediately roll back the minimum TES scores currently in place.

The issue of TES score and qualification for ISU championships has left the organizers of the 2013 championships and all the member's athletes twisting in the wind for nearly three months.  It's time for the ISU Council to clean up this mess so athletes are not working to satisfy a moving target, but know exactly what is expected of them this season, and to insure final rounds at the 2013 championships are no smaller than past seasons.

Copyright 2012 by George S. Rossano