(6 September 2012) In a letter to ISU
members and the council dated August 23, 2012, French Federation
president Didier Gailhaguet raised the issue of the appropriate minimum TES scores,
their impact on the size of upcoming championships, and put forward
a concept that would involve returning to a qualifying-round-type
format at ISU championships. In the following e-mail sent to
Gailhaguet and the ISU members and council, ISU president Ottavio
Cinquanta has responded. In this letter he provides a brief
history of how the championships format to be used in 2013 came to
be and defends the importance of having only
"athletes of adequate standard quality" taking part "in the most
To: FFSG, Mr. Didier
From: ISU, Ottavio Cinquanta, President
Copy: Recipients of August 23, 2012 letter
You point out in your
letter that "this non-inclusion of participants from all
countries will have a knock-on effect within each ISU member-country
in terms of recognition of their representatives and indeed of their
financial status" and also that
"the ISU is however right to
loudly state that these Championships must be intended for the elite
competitors and that not all skaters around the world can expect to
compete at a World Championships where the universal nature of our
practices is constantly evolving and the number of member-countries
is constantly rising."
As a matter of fact all sport
entities worldwide select their athletes when an adequate standard
quality exists. The 2010 Congress decided to introduce Preliminary
Rounds (see Rules 137,10 and 378). The term "Preliminary Rounds"
(not "Qualifying Rounds") was chosen for exactly the concern
of recognition mentioned by you. The term "Semi-Final" as proposed
by you might also have been considered, but would not make any
substantial difference to "Preliminary Rounds".
2010 Barcelona decision was a compromise to reconcile the
above-mentioned dilemma. Thanks to this compromise, all Members had
the possibility to participate in the Championships through the
Preliminary Rounds (the results of which are included in the
Protocol of the Championships) while the financial burden of the
Championships was limited, since these Preliminary Rounds were at
the charge of the participating Members.
proposal in the 2012 Congress Agenda, the Council proposed to
continue with the existing solution, giving also time until the next
Congress to find another, possibly better solution.
There was no
other specific alternative proposal on the 2012 Congress Agenda.
The Council and other Members clearly and repeatedly informed the
2012 Congress delegates that if the continuation of the Preliminary
Rounds would not be accepted, then the Council, under the current
Rules, had no other choice than to use the Minimum Total Technical
Scores in order to achieve a solution that would allow a
wise/regular conduct of the Championships as per the objectives
later stated in detail in ISU Communication 1742, point 7.
As you know, the Figure Skating Branch of the 2012 Congress voted
against the continuation of the Preliminary Rounds. It is therefore
not possible to ignore this Congress decision and any new solution
would be subject to a new Congress vote based on a
detailed proposal included in the Congress Agenda (see Article
29/2.c) of the ISU Constitution). We would therefore invite
you to present your detailed proposal for inclusion in the next
Congress Agenda. All financial aspects must also be considered in
such proposal and in particular who sustains the charges.
In the meantime, referring to the applicable Minimum Total
Technical Scores, we would like to emphasize that the Minimum Total
Technical Scores listed in ISU Communication 1742 were determined
based on the input of all competent ISU bodies, i.e. the Technical
Committees, the Sports Directorate and the Council and not only the
Sports Director as you state in your letter.
Furthermore, we reiterate what stated in ISU
Communication 1742, point 7, namely "However, if it became
evident that the number of entries based on the Minimum Total
Technical Scores listed below would be significantly higher or lower
than expected, the ISU Council reserves the right to subsequently
slightly re-adjust the Minimum Total Technical Scores in order to
achieve the above-mentioned objective".
As the season
progresses, the Council in cooperation with the Technical Committees
and the Sports Directorate will regularly monitor the situation and,
if necessary and as far as possible, make the relevant adjustments
in due time.
Last, but not least, let's give a look at what
happens in the other sport federations, as well as in the IOC. You
perfectly know that only athletes of adequate standard quality can
take part in the most important events, mentioning the Olympic Games
as first example; how could the ISU explain to the IOC such a change
of approach, i.e. to have any athlete taking part in its
Championships, without any prior selection? The final result in any
sport also comes from a kind of "selection".
Not to add that
we must also be practical, and to host and judge hundreds of
athletes would be reasonably impossible from many perspectives:
financial, physical and logistical. Hence the Council decision
published in Communication 1742, para 7. The Council itself will of
course pay the highest attention to what Mr Chait, President of the
Israel Ice Skating Federation, has proposed in his letter.
conclusion, I have a last question on my part, since I am not sure I
have properly understood: do you still propose to have
semi-finals/preliminaries/qualifications? If yes, would you include
a selection system?
Awaiting your answer, with best regards,
Having been to every World Championship since 1987 and seen the
many changes to the format of the championships, as well as the
growth in the number of entrants, we find ourselves in the rare
position of being in nearly complete agreement with president Cinquanta. Entry to the championships should depend on more
than simply being the only skater from your country regardless of
We understand that the prestige of being able to enter a
competitor in the World Championships is important to many ISU
members, and that in some cases government funding depends on
participation in international events. But allowing entries
who do not meet a minimum skill level only degrades the prestige of
the championships. With 50 to 60 entrants in recent
championships, the quality of the lowest skill skaters has sometimes
been painful to watch, and as Cinquanta rightly points out, the problems
of conducting an event with so many entries is excessively
burdensome in many respects.
We are also glad to see reiterated the commitment to adjust the
minimum TES scores
if needed during the season, but this approach to controlling the
number of entries still gives us some pause.
If the minimum TES scores have been set too high, then lowering them
will afford additional skaters opportunity to compete at Worlds,
though how one tunes this in a fair way to get the right number as the season
progresses is not obvious.
On the other hand, should the minimum TES scores have been set
too low and need to be raised mid-season to trim the size of the
championships, what of the skaters who thought they had qualified
but at the last minute find out they have not? Is this fair?
What of the skaters who have met the minimum score and have no further
competitions scheduled before the championships, by choice or by
circumstances, who finds out they no longer meet requirements and
have no opportunity left to requalify? This is a brutal brutal
process. It is like the airlines overbooking a flight, but if
too many people show up, instead of putting the passengers on the
next flight, the ISU is simply going to tell the extra skaters to
unpack their bags because they aren't going anywhere at all.
If the ISU guesses too low on the minimum TES score, fairness and
decency to the skaters should require the ISU to accept the
consequences and impact on the competition schedule, and deal with
number of entries their guess produces.