by Cecile Daniker Rusch
When I was completing in the 1960ís the ISU was considered a distinguished international organization toward which skaters and their coaches could turn when in doubt when they needed to have a final decision for tests, judging and competitions.
Some considered that it was rather "stodgy" and slow to move forward, old fashioned. However, no one considered it unreliable. Today, the situation is quite the opposite. The present president of the ISU, Ottavio Cinquanta has taken the entire organization into his hands. This is a very dangerous position for an international organization. As a matter of fact, if such a situation continues the meaning of international union becomes completely obsolete. Under such "leadership" the union members should seriously consider leaving this organization and forming a new one where they will be consulted.
Young skaters need to have an example to look up to. At present, this is far from possible. The ISU has lost television coverage with the "new" IJS since it is totally incomprehensible to the public. Along with this the IJS has forced the skaters to all do the same moves in order to achieve points thus eliminating the artistic aspect of figure skating which was one of its drawing points for the television public. This has diminished the television revenue which helps to finance the competitions.
However, to make matters worse, the new ISU regulations: 1561, 1562 and 1563 will now eliminate the desire of young people to enter competitions in the sport and in the end there will not be any skaters to film for television!
Arbitrarily reducing the number of skaters during a competition is not a solution to reducing the number of contenders. This could be done otherwise before the competition. All those who qualify to enter a competition should be able to skate to the end and this in the same time span; not one group in the afternoon and a second group in the evening. Of course the host member should be able to enter their representatives. One cannot ask a country to host an event with all that implies in organization and finance and not let the host enter his skaters.
If as is the case, there are too many contenders for the top international competitions, then regional competitions must be organized to make a selection for the major international events.
Yes, there is an international financial crisis but the downturn of public viewing popularity came before this crisis and is largely due to the 2002 scandal which was poorly handled by the ISU leadership. Instead of ousting from its ranks on a permanent basis the persons involved with the judging scandal, the ISU has allowed these persons to remain in its ranks and it put up a huge smoke screen with the change in the judging system which was not at all the cause of the 2002 scandal. The idea of reducing the number of judges in the future for "economic reasons" will only make unfair decisions more frequent, thus producing more scandals and discredit the sport completely.
The future of the entire sport is now seriously in question. The consulting members should realize that they are now at a cross road. Either they regain some say and control of the union or it will be necessary to found a new union if they wish to give their young skaters a chance to compete in a sport where they can look up to and respect the governing body of the sport.
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