Prominent skater Artur Dmitriev has criticized the suggestion voiced by some pundits that the age limit in female skating should be higher, explaining that it would undermine the progress achieved over the past few years.
The former pairs figure skater explained that, if the rules had been implemented earlier, it would have been possible to have seen the victory performances of multiple teen skaters, such as Alina Zagitova, who scooped world and Olympic trophies despite their tender age.
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The two-time Olympic champion also noted that imposing stricter regulations on the age of female skaters could ruin the career of young competitors, who would then have to retire before reaching senior level.
Under current International Skating Union (ISU) rules female skaters are allowed to enter senior events at the age of 15, but some experts insist they should stay at junior level for two more years.
“I’m against this idea. If those restrictions had been approved, we would have been able to see 15-year-old Alina Zagitova winning the 2018 Olympics. Is that good or bad? If this suggestion is implemented by the ISU, we are risking losing a whole generation of skaters who could finish their professional careers before they turned 17. Of course, I can express my opinion, but the final decision will be made by the ISU,” Dmitriev said.
He refused to make parallels between the widely discussed age limit initiative and the tragic death of Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, who is believed to have committed suicide after being forced to retire from skating at the age of 20.
“Of course, that was a huge tragedy, but I don’t think its right to link it to the issue of raising the age limit in women’s skating. That wouldn’t be logical. I agree that girls start to change between 14 and 17 – their bodies transform, they gain weight. That’s why it becomes more difficult to do certain elements. But I don’t understand who will benefit from cutting out 15-year-old girls from senior events? Do we want the level of figure skating to nosedive? If so, let’s raise the age limit to 21, when they are eligible to buy alcohol. This is really absurd,” the retired skater added.
The highly debated matter of raising the age in women’s skating was already discussed by ISU members last year, but the rule remained unchanged, having faced criticism from a great number of Russian pundits, who said the initiative was directed against Russia’s quad-jumping youngsters.