ISU proposes raising minimum age to 17 for figure skating competitions

FILE PHOTO: 2022 Beijing Olympics – Figure Skating – Women Single Skating – Free Skating – Capital Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China – February 17, 2022. Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee reacts after competing REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

The International Skating Union (ISU) has proposed raising the minimum age for senior figure skating competitions to 17 from 15 before the 2026 Winter Olympics to help young athletes cope with the physical and psychological demands of the sport.

Under proposals listed in the agenda for its 58th congress in Thailand next month, the sport’s governing body said it hoped to gradually increase the minimum age over the next three years before the Milano Cortina Games.

“It is conceivable that allowing underage athletes to compete may subject them to loads and risks that are thought to be inappropriate for their age,” the ISU’s medical commission wrote in the proposal.

“Not only physically, but in terms of the psychological and social development of the child. Junior athletes need to cope with multiple stressors on their pathways towards elite sport.”

The proposal comes after then 15-year-old Russian Kamila Valieva tumbled to fourth place in the women’s singles event at the Beijing Winter Olympics this year, yielding to the pressure of a doping controversy.

The ISU medical council said young athletes were exposed to high physiological loads caused by training and competitions.

“Ultimately, performance enhancements are normally the central concern for ambitious athletes, as athletes themselves and by others are continually evaluating their accomplishments,” the medical commission added.

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