“This is a very important decision. I would say a very historic decision.”
International Skating Union (ISU) president Jan Dijkema on Tuesday as the organization voted to gradually raise the competition age minimum for figure skaters — shifting from the current age of 15 up to age 17 by the 2024/25 season.
jun 7, 2022
Why It Matters: This decision raises the minimum age limit from 15 to 17 for elite skaters in several disciplines — from figure skaters to speed skaters — before the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, and impacts young skaters globally.
- Here's an excerpt from the ISU's press release on the vote: "The ISU Congress voted in favor ... to gradually increase the age limit for Senior Skaters from 15 to 17 years for the sake of protecting the physical and mental health, and emotional well-being of the Skaters. There will be no change for the season 2022/23. An increase to 16 years for the season 2023/24 and an increase to 17 years for the season 2024/25 and subsequent seasons will then be implemented."
- The ISU Medical Commission listed several factors for raising the minimum age to compete, including "burnout, disordered eating, and longterm consequences of injury," along with the "multiple stressors" athletes cope with "on their pathways towards elite sport," (e.g., balancing school with competition).
- Timing: This decision follows 2022's Winter Olympics in Beijing, where then-15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva's positive test results of a banned performance-enhancing substance came to light. An investigation into the circumstances of the positive test is still ongoing, but this event shed light on the emotional stress put on young skaters — as Valieva, who was expected to win gold, took fourth after several mistakes in her performance following her revealed test results.
- Before the vote on Tuesday, ISU Athletes Commission member and Olympian Eric Radford said: "The life of an athlete is short and intense, their experience in this short phase sets the platform for the rest of their lives — physically, spiritually emotionally. While I hear the concerns of certain nations about the immediate difficulty that they might face with this proposal being passed ... is a medal really worth the life of a young athlete?"
ISU 58th Ordinary Congress Phuket — 2022 Age limit to gradually increase to 17 (International Skating Union Press Release)
After Doping Scandal, Figure skating Will Raise Age Limit to 17 (New York Times)
Figure skating minimum age rises to 17 before 2026 Olympics (Associated Press)
Figure skaters' minimum age for top competitions will rise to 17 after scandal (NPR)
AGENDA OF THE 58th ORDINARY CONGRESS PHUKET — 2022 (See pages 17-21 for more information on the minimum age limit change)