Minimum age for figure skating competitions raised to 17 after 2022 Olympics

After a Winter Olympics that highlighted the toll competition can have on young figure skaters, the International Skating Union (ISU) has taken action.

The organization that sets the standard international rules and regulations for the sport voted on Tuesday to raise the minimum age for senior skaters from 15 to 17.

“The ISU Congress has voted to gradually increase the age limit from 15 to 17 in the interest of protecting the physical and mental health and emotional well-being of skaters,” we read in a press release. Tweeter of the UIS.

A follow-up tweet explained how the new minimum age will be phased in over the coming seasons: “There will be no change for the 2022/23 season, an increase to 16 for the 2023/24 season and an increase to 17 for the 2024/25 season and beyond.”

The phased roll-out means the new guidelines will not impact 15- and 16-year-old athletes already competing, including the athlete who rocked the world over the age issue at the Beijing Games 2022 – Russian skater Kamila Valieva.

Kamila Valieva competes in the Women’s Figure Skating Free Skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 17, 2022.Manan Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty Images

Valieva, who was 15 when she competed in the Olympics in February, failed a drug test ahead of the Games, raising questions about her coaches and doctors. But a controversial decision allowed her to compete, in part because she was underage. After winning gold in the team figure skating event, a shocking final performance left her in tears as the cameras rolled.

“There’s definitely an advantage to being a little bit older and getting on that stage,” figure skating icon and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton said at the time. “I think you are a more mature athlete. … When I see something like this happen, especially to someone so young, it just – it hurts.

After Valieva missed jumps, stumbled and fell several times in the women’s individual free skate final, the former gold medal favorite crashed and took fourth place.

Rafael Arutunian, who is the coach of US figure skating champion Nathan Chen, raised the age issue during a chat with NBC Sports in February.

“If you’re skating in an adult competition, you should be an adult,” Arutunian said.

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