The 1996 ISU Congress was held the week of 17 June in Davos Switzerland. The following is a summary of some of the actions taken, as gleaned from a press release issued by the ISU and passed on to us by our friends at Blades on Ice magazine. The actions described here deal with the overall direction of the ISU. Details of changes to the technical rules will be reported on in our next issue. The details of the proposals passed can be found in the May issue of ISIO.
Beginning in 1999 the ISU will hold a Four Continents Championships. This competition will be analogous to the European Championships, and will be open to skaters from non-European countries. It will be scheduled annually prior to the World Figure Skating Championships. A proposal to make this competition and the European Championships qualifying competitions for the World Championships did not pass.
A new class of international competitions will be offered beginning in the 1997-98 season (probably after the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan). These competitions will be "medal winner" competitions open to eligible skaters who have placed in the top three in World or Olympic competition. The format of these competitions may differ from the standard format used in current ISU competitions and will offer prize money. They appear to be aimed at competing financially with the ineligible competitions in an attempt to keep the top skaters from turning pro and leaving the ISU competition structure following the Olympic Games.
Beginning in 2000 the ISU will hold annual World Precision Team Skating Championships.
In regard to offering these new events, Mr. Cinquanta, ISU President, offered the following comments. "It is the mission of the ISU to develop, promote and control our sport at international level. We are constantly working to improve our calendar of events up to an adequate number to promote better competitive opportunities for eligible skaters. These exciting new events, together with the refinements made to our current events offers every incentive for skaters to remain with the ISU family and will make dynamic viewing for spectators and television."
The prize money budget for the 1996-97 season for figure and speed skating events will be about US$3 million. About US$4 million will also be devoted to developmental and educational activities for ISU skaters and officials.
Age limits for ISU events were changed. The age requirement to compete in ISU Senior Championships and the Olympic Games becomes 15 years or older on 1 July preceding the competition. For other ISU senior competitions the age limit becomes 14 years or older on 1 July preceding the competition beginning with the 1997-98 season (for 1996-97 the 13 year age limit will remain in effect). Senior skaters who do not meet the new age requirements but have already competed in an ISU senior event will be grandfathered. For junior competitions the new age limit is 13 years or older but less than 19 on 1 July preceding the competition.
The number of skaters a country can enter in an event at the World Championships and Olympic Games will no longer be based on the results of the country's best placing skater in each event. In the future the number of skaters a country can enter will be based on the overall results from all that country's skaters in the previous World Championships. Each country will continue to be allowed at least one entry in each event.
Unlike the World Championships, ISU member nations are not guaranteed an entry in the Olympic Games. The number of entries and method of gaining entry was changed. Beginning with the 1998 Games, Olympic events will consist of 30 entries each for the ladies and men's events, 20 for pairs, and 24 for dance. Of the total entries permitted, 24 for the ladies and men, 16 for pairs, and 19 for dance will be based on the results from the previous World Championships. Countries that do not earn an entry based on the results of their skaters at the previous Worlds will have the opportunity to earn one entry in each event by competing for the remaining spots (6 for ladies and men, 4 for pairs, and 5 for dance) at an ISU senior competition in the autumn of 1997. This qualifying competition has not yet been designated. Results from this competition will also be used to fill in any spots that might become available should skaters from any countries drop out for some reason after earning an entry.
A new Coaching Commission (committee) will be created as an advisory group to the ISU technical committees. Nominations to serve on this commission will come from the member nations of the ISU and from the professional coaching organizations throughout the world. In the area of athlete representation it was decided to develop a mechanism for athlete representation on the technical committees, and to pursue the creation of an Athlete Commission in the future.
Andorra, Cyprus, and Portugal were accepted as new members of the ISU, bringing the total number of member federations to 71. [Note: the ISU is the international governing body for both speed skating and figure skating. Not all member nations are active in both.]
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