Madrid, Oct 18 (EFE).- The International Skating Union (ISU) will gradually raise, one year per season, and for health reasons, the minimum age to participate in absolute ice skating competitions, until leaving it at 17 years in the 2024-2025 campaign.
“Protecting the physical, mental and emotional health” of skaters has led the ISU to make this decision, based on medical research and a survey of athletes, the agency announced.
The measure, assures the ISU, “is not a direct reaction to the case of Kamila Valieva”, a Russian figure skater who tested positive for doping at the last Beijing Olympics, when she was only 16 years old. Her minority complicated the resolution of the case.
But the federation admits that, although the change in the age limit was already voted on in 2018 and was not approved, the Valieva case “may have made some delegates change their minds” to support the modification now.
Thus, during the 2022-23 season, the 15-year limit will remain in force. But in 2023-24 only skaters who are 16 years old before July 1 prior to the competition will be able to compete; and from 2024-25 the barrier will be at 17 years.
Athletes, being older, will have “a better perspective on what is appropriate behavior in their relationship with teammates, coaches and other adults around them”, considers the ISU.
They will also have a lower risk of injury due to their increased skeletal development, as well as “more time to reflect on how to respond to success and failure” and “a better understanding of nutrition and what a healthy lifestyle is.”
Elite athletes, recalls the ISU, can see their puberty delayed by an average of two years, especially in the case of women.