Tracking ISU and U.S. Figure Skating Events, Issues and Governance
The recent release to all ISU Committees, and Member Representatives of his 7 major proposals for change in the sport of Figure Skating should have all officials, coaches, skaters and fans shaking in their boots.
These seven proposals are part of President Cinquanta’s plan to turn figure skating into a total numbers sport devoid of artistry. Anyone who believes in the history and traditions of Figure Skating, its structure and purpose must pay close attention to what President Cinquanta is attempting.
Let us look at his proposals, one at a time (in his own words) and consider the havoc their adoption will bring as a result.
Proposal No. 1 – Anonymity of the Judges
So as to avoid more demanding problems, anonymity of judges shall be maintained. The ISU has already cancelled the random draw that was introduced to exclude two judges in addition to the two (the highest and the lowest). Of course the judges will continue to be presented to the audience and they might even be listed in alphabetical order with their name and Member as the appointed officials of the concerned event. But it would remain of paramount importance that nobody can detect which score has been decided by which judge.
Let us look at this closely for the buzz words which reveal his agenda. “To avoid more demanding problems” – this means to avoid having to deal with deal-making, deliberate misuse of the PCS marks, the application of reputation marks, etc. without their public scrutiny. All the rest of that first proposal, the cancelled random draw for selection of judges and how they are presented to the audience is nothing more than a smoke screen and a very weak one at that to defend his belief in secret judging. Secret Judging allows the ISU to not have to investigate cheating and having to make examples out of cheaters. After Salt Lake City, the ISU leadership wants not to worry about having cheaters exposed. Any attempt to defend secret judging is just plain bullshit!
Proposal No. 2 – Simplify the Judging System
The Judging System is already complicated to believe that all those watching Figure Skating can make reference to it. Therefore it is essential to simplify what is possible to render it understandable.
Wow! He is just waking up to the fact that the new scoring system has turned the average fan away from the sport; not due to the mathmatics so much, but to the rigid cookie cutter moves that are required for all skaters to perform thus turning a once beautiful and graceful sport for the most part into what often is seen to be stale and repetitive. That’s the fan’s real objection. Yes, good choreographers with the best talented skaters can still make magic on the ice, not nearly as much as in pre-IJS years.
So now he wants to simplify it all by the stroke of pen! Render it understandable? This from a Speed Skater who says he knows nothing about the sport? The incompetence is staggering.
Proposal No. 3 – Uniform Program performance times
That is why I think that at least the ISU five disciplines of Figure Skating should last the same time. I do not wish to say 4 minutes or 4, 15’’. This will be determined by the ISU technical bodies concerned. My opinion is that all disciplines should last the same time.
This proposal seems to come out of nowhere, but wait until proposal 5 and you will be enlightened. This thinking is not surprising in the least coming from a speed skater. (What in God’s name is a speed skater doing making proposals for figure skating, anyway!)
Proposal No. 4 – Redefine Skating Level Categories
Due to the fact that Senior and Junior in Europe (a very important geographical area for the ISU Figure Skating) are words used to define a category the ISU shall decide how to name a category (today Senior) in which it is possible to see a podium with on the highest step a skater of 16 years and next to him/her athletes theoretically older than 23 years.
Quite frankly this proposal (is it a serious proposal?) is really puzzling. Don’t all areas of the skating globe recognize the different levels of ISU competitive skating; Novice, Junior, Senior? Aren’t these levels defined by age requirements not just in Europe, but world-wide? Don’t we already see Senior level podiums with 16 year olds and plus 23 year olds standing side by side? Shouldn’t the leader of the sport be not only coherent in the sport he leads, but in expressing his thoughts?
Proposal No. 5 – Eliminate Short Programs
(Cinquanta’s Reasoning): If almost no other sports are based on two segments there must be a reason. I would like to emphasize that the Short Program (2.50” for every discipline) is practically skated to make sure that the athletes can perform the required elements decided. But if the required elements are necessary the ISU might put them in the so-called Free Program, the duration of which will be determined by the ISU technical bodies, as already pointed out. In addition the abolishment of the Short Program might permit to conduct two Championships together: Junior and Elite/Open (or other expressions).
Let me state this now, clearly and emphatically; This is the most egregious proposal ever made by any leader of the International Skating Union. First, Cinquanta’s reasoning that skating should be like every other sport in its competitive construction clearly demonstrates his total cluelessness with the sport he leads. It demonstrates his incompetence so boldly.
This insane proposal if adopted will surely put the final nail in the sport’s coffin. What is he thinking? Does he not realize the ramifications for the sport if this is instituted? Not only will it drive the remaining fans from the sport it will kill the artistic side of figure skating (which we know he dislikes anyway).
The impact on skaters would involve proposal 3 which calls for a uniform time for all programs across all disciplines. This of course crams more and more requirements into the single program each discipline presents which will bring more repetitive technical elements and even less opportunity for skaters to be artistic.
Are things becoming clearer everyone?
Proposal No. 6 – Bring Clarity Between Pairs and Ice Dance
To finally clarify the true difference between Pairs and Ice Dance and to impose to these two important disciplines to respect the difference otherwise the external entities will actually get confused.
What does this very unclearly stated proposal seek to accomplish. Does Cinquanta know the difference between these two disciplines? I doubt it. Could he be asking for Ice Dance to remove all lifts and pairs spins from programs? I personally don’t think he knows what the hell he is talking about here. Who is not respecting the differences between the two disciplines, certainly not the fans? Is there a lack of understanding and respect between Pairs and Ice Dancers? Just what the hell are you talking about Speedy?
Proposal No. 7 – Synchronized Team Skating or Four Discipline Team Skating in the Olympics
Regarding the team event for Figure Skating at present the ISU has Synchronized Skating. In case there are opinions or proposals to change the type of team sport in Figure Skating, the final decision has to be taken by the ISU Congress. If as it seems SyS should be included in the OWG program, the proposal of the ISU to the IOC might be more considered in case there is a substantial change regarding the adoption of a new track for Speed Skating Branch as later pointed out.
Clearly Cinquanta is reacting to the many calls for the ISU to seek entry into the Olympics the discipline of Synchronized Team Skating, which is of course the original team figure skating discipline. This will never occur without the full backing of the ISU over the current team format born out of the World Team Trophy. He is tying this to his Speed Skating Proposals to eliminate several race formats within the sport of competitive speed skating, which might see a large reduction in the number of speed skaters qualifying for Olympic competition.
So he intends to rob events from his own sport in a bid to gain Olympic entry for Synchronized Skating. Synchro most definitely deserves to be an Olympic event, but at this point in time with the world economy in the state it is, all athletic entities are fighting for competitive money. This proposal has some merit but is based on a lot of ifs.
Monica Friedlander’s latest article “Skating chief puts short program on the chopping block” lays bare the folly of these proposals and his ridiculous reasoning for them. Everyone should read her article.
There is one very important element that Monica did not discuss. His proposal to do away with Short Programs will do extreme damage to the sport of Figure Skating by gutting countless jobs for many involved with the artistic side of the sport.
Choreographers and coaches create programs for the great majority of international and national level figure skaters in the USA and around the globe. Eliminating the Short Programs means gutting not just the amount of work they do annually, but more choreographers will be unable to earn a living thus diminishing the artistic side of the sport. You can bet Cinquanta hasn’t even considered this consequence of such a policy.
It’s time to stop this madness and force this corrupt and incompetent leader out of the ISU. It’s time for all who love figure skating to stop complaining and start volunteering to help such men as Bill Fauver, Ron Pfenning and others to encourage U. S. Figure Skating and other ISU member representatives to stand up and say that’s it; your time is done.
It’s time for a vote of no confidence for Ottavio Cinquanta and for the ISU Congress to demand his resignation
Editor, Blazing Blades