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Skating, cycling bosses propose major changes to Olympic programs

Mar 26, 2014, 12:25 PM EST

Figure skating AP

Presidents of the international skating and cycling unions suggested major changes to the Olympics, including cutting figure skating short programs, eliminating short track speed skating and moving summer indoor sports to the Winter Games.

International Skating Union (ISU) president Ottavio Cinquanta outlined what he called “personal opinions,” a summary of proposals he put forth for consideration in an internal letter to ISU officials. The Italian Cinquanta’s reign as ISU president, since 1994, is expected to end in 2016.

Dutch newspaper Volkskrant quoted Cinquanta’s proposed changes for speed skating and short track speed skating on Tuesday. The Chicago Tribune obtained the letter and published it.

Here’s a summary:

Figure skating ideas
Abolish all short programs.

Make free skates the same time across all four disciplines (men’s and pairs are currently 4 minutes, 30 seconds, while women and ice dance are 4 minutes).

Add synchronized skating to the Olympics.

Speed skating/Short track ideas 
Move to a mass start in speed skating with a maximum of two skaters per country per event (currently it is three or four) to ensure a nation does not sweep gold, silver and bronze in any event. Cinquanta prefaced this by noting the Netherlands “monopolized” the speed skating medals in Sochi (winning 23 of a possible 32), calling the dominance a “sign of high concern.”

Switch from a 400m oval to a 250m oval and eventually cancel short track events.

Replace speed skating’s 1000m, women’s 5000m and men’s 10,000m with 16-lap mass starts and a mixed relay.

Meanwhile, International Cycling Union (UCI) president Brian Cookson suggested discussions about moving track cycling, combat sports such as judo and indoor sports like badminton to the Winter Olympics.

“If you have a problem with Summer Olympics where the whole thing is perceived as overheated with too many facilities, too many sports, too many competitors and so on, why not look at moving some of the other sports that traditionally take place in the winter in the northern hemisphere indoors,” Cookson said, according Agence-France Presse citing Press Association Sport. “If we moved track cycling to the Winter Olympics and that allowed us to have more track cycling events and more medals then that could be a pretty good outcome.

“So let’s talk about those things and see what the stakeholders, the national federations, the teams and the competitors have to say about those options.”

It would not be unprecedented to move sports from the Summer Olympics to Winter Olympics. Ice hockey and figure skating were Summer Olympic sports before the first edition of the Winter Olympics in 1924.

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  1. X-tech - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    Yes & this is where Inline speed skating should be also.

  2. skate0530 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I’m not sure what ISU is thinking. Their change ideas to figure skating are not thought through. First of all, abolishing short programs is a TERRIBLE idea. You can’t just get rid of short programs. They are significant. Also, I don’t mean to hate on synchronized skating, but I don’t think it should be qualified for the Olympics. Synchro takes less skill than other figure skating activities since a lot of major parts of skating are not involved. Its almost like cheating the system, since other skaters need to have all the skills synchro skaters have plus the ability to do complex jumps and spins. I think ISU’s ideas for change are very irrelevant, not thought through, and just plain stupid. As a figure skater myself, I can guarantee that a lot of skaters would not appreciate these changes.

    • blt95 - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      “Synchro takes less skill than other figure skating activities”
      It’d be interesting for you to try synchro, it’s a lot more difficult than you realise.

      “Its almost like cheating the system, since other skaters need to have all the skills synchro skaters have plus the ability to do complex jumps and spins.”
      Actually synchro skaters can do complex jumps and spins, and many teams take the opportunity to show these skills in the creative element of the programme.

      When it comes to skill, imagine doing a figure skating routine but with 15 other people around you doing it at the EXACT SAME TIME. It requires complete synchronisation, the same positions, extensions, heads, arms, everything must be the same, which is honestly a lot harder than just relying on yourself.

  3. ncslim13 - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Cancel short track ice? No thanks…Also need to add in line speed skating to these events.

  4. aliciatrz - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    And if you are interested, you can sign the petition to make Synchronized Skating an olympic sport! https://www.change.org/petitions/international-olympic-committee-make-synchronized-figure-skating-an-olympic-event

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