Tracking ISU and U.S. Figure Skating Events, Issues and Governance
He knew going in that cooperation from his own nation’s Skating Association was unlikely. U.S. Figure Skating’s Board of Directors July meeting confirmed just that when it’s members voted, in what most likely was the recommendation of it’s chair, to deny Mr. Pfenning his request for USFS to submit his application for reinstatement within the International Skating Union (ISU).
There is some background behind this decision that predetermined this rejection. Ron Pfenning knows full well the back story and it all stems from his part in attempting to wrest control of the sport from the iron grip of the ISU in 2003. This attempt fell on deaf ears and scared the hell out of the ISU leadership and President Ottavio Cinquanta in particular. The result saw quick action to remove his member credentials in the sports governing body.
Leaving aside all the arguments surrounding his part in the attempt to reform skating by usurping the ISU with a new international governing body named the World Skating Federation; nearly a decade later nothing has changed, not even the names. Cinquanta remains as the President of the ISU after some two decades. Many of those who surrounded him in 2003 remain in power alongside him.
Fast-forward to 2013. Enter the latest player. U.S. Figure Skating President, Pat St. Peter. Her term as USFS leader ends next May when a new President will be elected to take the helm. It is no secret within the U.S. figure skating community that President St. Peter intends to seek election to the ISU council. She knows that any submission to the ISU to reinstate Mr. Pfenning within that international governing body would surely anger Ottavio. Since the submission for reinstatement must come from the USFS, with her signature on it, this would likely doom her ever being seated on the ISU Council.
Additionally, the board in its decision knows full well they have provided other prospective candidates the case to be made against Mr. Pfenning as to why he should not be chosen to lead U.S. Figure Skating.
There you have it in a nutshell; Ron’s mountain to climb including the sheerest of cliffs. As is often the case in life, power trumps efforts for reform and improvement.
No matter that Ron Pfenning might be the best candidate to lead U.S. Figure Skating. No matter his depth of knowledge of what transpires within the ISU and how things go within that body and in the skating world (which is not the case with most of the U.S. representatives at Congress and internationally) and that this experience could really help the sport.
If there is anything to take away from this it is that Mr. Pfenning needs to seek out legal representation that is totally familiar with the inner political workings of and procedures used within the ISU and USFS power structures. It’s his only chance at a fair fight.