The main difficulty with which ISU will face now is how to conduct the competitions


Uliana Chirkova finished her synchro career when she was 22 years old. "I realized that I miss so much competitions, ice and synchronized skating. At that time I decided to attend the national seminar for Technical Panel, Judges and Coaches," she remembers. (Credits: Ice Galaxy - 2020)

The International Skating Union (ISU) has released several communications for next season to help synchro teams in these difficult times of pandemic. Uliana Chirkova is a member of the Synchronized Skating Technical Committee and she's also an ISU Technical Specialist in synchro. Living in Russia, this member of the National Judges Commission and Coaches Council explains to us the main changes and the next challenges for the ISU.

The ISU has already announced several decisions for next season: upper age limits for junior and novice teams or higher prize money. What do you think about that? 

Uliana Chirkova: Next season will be very difficult for all of us - for skaters, their parents, coaches, officials and etc. Taking this into consideration, the ISU tries to create the most comfortable conditions to preserve the number of skaters without losing the quality. That is why the ISU has taken these decisions. Increasing of prize money for Seniors and Introduction of Prize money for Juniors World Championship is not related to the pandemic, it was planned before and that's what had to be done anyway. And of course, it will be a big help in the current situation.

The ISU has also announced that the Well Balanced Programs requirements will stay the same for the new season for all categories of Synchronized Skating. Maintaining the same requirements for Well Balanced programs for the new season will help teams to work better on the technique of elements and levels of elements already familiar to them. At the same time other teams will be able to work on increasing the levels of difficulty of the Elements.

By maintaining the same program requirements, we have left the opportunity to grow for all teams. We hope that all measures taken by the ISU will help to preserve the number of teams and skaters which we already had and will help our sport to develop further.

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The new Guidelines have also been published. What should we remember?

The general changes in the Difficulty Groups mostly affected the organization of the document. All Additional Features have been moved from the separate Appendix to the respective Elements. Elements and some of the Features have been reorganized in alphabetical order. Some of the Features got a shorter title. The levels of some elements have been revised to ensure that all elements will lower only one level for the error and not drop 2-3 levels (it concerns Pivoting Block and Twizzle Element).

Speaking about specific elements – you will find the most significant changes in the TC and TW.  We combined these two elements into one chart, removed the element shape requirements from the chart and placed them in the requirements for the element. We also removed features from the chart and created a list of features for TC and TW. You will find some new features like Change of Relative Position, Sequence of Turns/Steps and Intersecting. We hope that with an extended list of features teams will have different and varied travelling elements. 

In the Move Element we deleted the descriptions from the Chart and listed them below the Chart as Features as in most other Elements. We have also added a new Feature – “Difficult Entry” for the Move Element and Synchronized Spin Element. This Feature can add diversity, complexity and interesting beginning of the elements. You could easily find the changes in other elements – they are not fundamental. Just small corrections.

Ice Storm - AUS, in their Moves Element. (Credits: Ice Galaxy - 2020)

A reader asked us if the rules would remain the same for non-ISU teams like Mixed Age. Could the regulations change for these categories and not for others?

Mixed Age is not an ISU category and we are not responsible for the rules either for this or other non-ISU categories. We can only do recommendations. And according to our recommendations, the requirements for the Mixed Age and other non-ISU categories should remain the same as for the season 2019-2020. 

There is a different situation with Adult Category. Adult figure skating has been under the ISU umbrella since 2005. The Technical Committee in coordination with the Adult commission decided to keep the same regulations for the upcoming season for Adult and Masters Category. For the 2020-21 season, you can find the Technical Requirements for international competitions.

Team Butterfl'Ice, Mixed Age - GER. (Credits: S.J.Photos - 2020)

Will there be other ISU decisions coming?

The main problem with which ISU will face now is conducting the competitions. In the new reality before planning to hold a competition it is necessary to take into consideration restrictions on travelling, transport accessibility, inner policy of each country, financial opportunities and etc. So the main decisions will be related to upcoming competitions.

Thank you so much Uliana for those precisions. We hope that we'll be able to see you soon in synchro competitions.

Yes, the most important thing is each other. I wish the best to all of you and hope to see you soon on the ice!

Read the first part of the interview with Uliana Chirkova in which Uliana takes stock of the situation of synchronized skating and coronavirus