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Competitive figure skating minimum age limit raised to 17 following Kamila Valieva saga

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The International Skating Union (ISU) made a game-changing decision on Monday, June 6.

Per Sky Sports, the minimum age for competitive skating will be raised from 15 to 17 years old. This will happen in two stages, with the minimum age being 16 for the 2023-2024 season and then 17 for the 2024-2025 season. This gives athletes time to age into the 2026 winter Olympics, which will be held in Italy.

The catalyst behind this decision was the saga surrounding Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva. She competed in the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics and was favored to take home a gold medal at just 15 years of age. However, she tested positive for a banned substance during the games. After a series of appeals, Valieva was allowed to compete, but she finished fourth in the women’s singles event. Her flawed display put her one place short of winning a medal, leaving the teen in tears for the world to see.

It has been speculated that Valieva was under formidable stress from the drug test, which doomed her chances of taking home the Olympic gold. And this was not her first failed doping test, as she failed one at the Russian national championships back in December. This was not revealed until February 8, the day after she led a team event to victory in the Beijing games.

The Kamila Valieva case prompted the ISU to vote on raising the minimum age to protect minors. The organization’s medical commission cited concerns such as burnout, eating disorders, and long-term injuries. The proposal quickly passed with 100-16 votes. ISU Commission Member Eric Radford commented that a large majority of skaters favored this chance. He said, “The life of an athlete is intense yet short, and this experience impacts the rest of their lives. So is a medal really worth a young athlete’s life?”

However, some others did not share Radford’s logic. Tatiana Tarasova, a Russian figure skating coach, suggested the change was directly aimed at her country. She even told Match TV that this was a method of preventing Russian youths from competing. The Israeli delegate of the ICU expressed concerns that the new rule would have a more significant impact on smaller nations and those with fewer skaters.

As with so many other things, only time will tell if these concerns are justified.

The International Skating Union (ISU) made a game-changing decision on Monday, June 6.

Per Sky Sports, the minimum age for competitive skating will be raised from 15 to 17 years old. This will happen in two stages, with the minimum age being 16 for the 2023-2024 season and then 17 for the 2024-2025 season. This gives athletes time to age into the 2026 winter Olympics, which will be held in Italy.

The catalyst behind this decision was the saga surrounding Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva. She competed in the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics and was favored to take home a gold medal at just 15 years of age. However, she tested positive for a banned substance during the games. After a series of appeals, Valieva was allowed to compete, but she finished fourth in the women’s singles event. Her flawed display put her one place short of winning a medal, leaving the teen in tears for the world to see.

It has been speculated that Valieva was under formidable stress from the drug test, which doomed her chances of taking home the Olympic gold. And this was not her first failed doping test, as she failed one at the Russian national championships back in December. This was not revealed until February 8, the day after she led a team event to victory in the Beijing games.

The Kamila Valieva case prompted the ISU to vote on raising the minimum age to protect minors. The organization’s medical commission cited concerns such as burnout, eating disorders, and long-term injuries. The proposal quickly passed with 100-16 votes. ISU Commission Member Eric Radford commented that a large majority of skaters favored this chance. He said, “The life of an athlete is intense yet short, and this experience impacts the rest of their lives. So is a medal really worth a young athlete’s life?”

However, some others did not share Radford’s logic. Tatiana Tarasova, a Russian figure skating coach, suggested the change was directly aimed at her country. She even told Match TV that this was a method of preventing Russian youths from competing. The Israeli delegate of the ICU expressed concerns that the new rule would have a more significant impact on smaller nations and those with fewer skaters.

As with so many other things, only time will tell if these concerns are justified.

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