"We will bring something new to the Olympic events"


Nova Senior - CAN. (Credits: Ice Galaxy - 2019)

Christopher Buchanan from Great Britain was the former Chair of the Synchronized Skating Technical Committee at the ISU. In this interview, he looks back on this very unusual season.

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First of all, how are you? 

Christopher Buchanan: This has been quite a sad season for me as I really miss being part of our wonderful, lively events. There is no other figure skating discipline that creates the same inspiring and motivating environment as we have for synchro – even when I have been judging at Olympics (with my Ice Dance hat on). This is why I think we will bring something new to the Olympic Figure Skating events – the roar of the crowd and an electric atmosphere.

What did you in the last few months?

I have been keeping busy doing Zoom sessions with our teams, coaches and officials on rules, GOE marking, Component Marking, explaining the whole IJS Marking System for parents, fun quizzes and a session to ‘Ask the Judge anything you were always afraid to ask’. It is important to keep our skaters engaged or we might lose them to our sport. There have also been many fitness, flexibility, dance and synchro team sessions given by other members of my BIS Technical Committee – I know my limitations!

Grand Prix Final, Barcelone 2015 - Christopher Buchanan is on the right. (Credits: Christopher Buchanan)

What has been the strangest thing for you?

The strangest thing is being stuck in one place. It is the longest continuous period of time I have been at home and in one country for the last 38 years. I must say, that since leaving the ISU SyS Technical Committee, my international events have been mainly for Ice Dance (other than our International events in the UK) as most Synchro event organisers seem to have ‘lost’ my email address and phone number. There are one or two loyal friends where I still receive invitations for their Synchro events. However, I do enjoy doing TV commentary for Synchro events that take place in the UK – Junior Worlds and Britannia Trophy in Nottingham last year were a blast. 

We will all come out of the other side of this pandemic but I truly believe this will have strengthened the love and appreciation our athletes have for the sport – absence truly will have made their hearts grow fonder!

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Having been involved with Synchronized Skating since before it was even a recognised discipline by the ISU, you've been also the Chair of the Synchronized Skating Technical Committee before Philippe Maitrot!

Yes, and it is a source of immense pride to see how the sport has developed. During my time as Chair of the ISU technical committee, driving the sport to become more technically challenging and to gain the respect of the wider skating community, is great source of satisfaction for me.

Seeing the huge improvements in skating quality, power, flow and technical accomplishment coming from the changes introduced to technical requirements and demands for a high quality of execution, made me very proud of our athletes.

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While I was Chair, we made our first application to have Synchronized Skating included in the Olympics. Even though our applications have not yet been successful, actually having the IOC allow the application to be made and for them to consider having Synchronized Skating as part of the Winter Olympic Games was incredible progress, given how the discipline had been regarded in the preceding years.

Also getting a full World Championship for our Junior Teams as well as inclusion in the Grand Prix Series for our Senior Teams (sadly only once) and having the preparatory discussions regarding the establishment of a Challenger Series for Synchro (now in place) were notable strides forward for our discipline.

The first beginnings of the "Elite 12" project
To reach the Olympics, Christopher Buchanan conducted the first trials of having teams of 12 skaters in Senior events. The goal was also to participate in the Universiade; an international multi-sport event organized every two years by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

"This will support the decision to allow smaller teams to take part in that event. It is considered important for our Olympic ambitions," he told to Jura Synchro in 2017.