International Skating Union - History

History

The International Skating Union (ISU) was founded in 1892 to govern speed skating and figure skating. In 1895, the ISU streamlined its mission to deal only with amateur competitors and not professionals. The organization hosted its first amateur skating championship in February 1896 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The United States and Canada formed a competing organization, the International Skating Union of America (ISUA), in 1907. Within the next two years, twelve European nations had joined the ISU, and the ISUA had only its original members. The ISUA folded in 1927.

European and North American figure skaters rarely competed against each other due to differences in their styles of skating. The ISU had "systematized and arranged" the sport of figure skating, with competitions including "a selection of ten or twelve numbers from the I. S. U. programme, ... five minutes' free skating to music, ... special figures" on one foot. In 1911, Canada joined the ISU, leaving the United States as the only major competitor to not be a member.

Short track speed skating gained its own world championship event, hosted by the ISU, in 1976. At the time, the sport was known as indoor speed skating, but it was renamed short-track when indoor rinks for the longer speed skating events were introduced.

By 1988, 38 nations had joined the ISU. Within the next few years, the ISU abandoned one of its long-held practices, eliminating the use of mandatory figures in the singles' figure skating competitions and reducing their use in ice dancing.

After the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, the ISU implemented sweeping changes to many of its events. In one of the short track speed skating events, Apolo Anton Ohno was awarded the gold medal after the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung. Although the South Korean delegation protested the disqualification, ISU rules did not allow for a review of the official's call. Several months later, the ISU approved the use of video replay, when available, to review referee decisions. The rules for judging figure skating were also changed as the result of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games figure skating scandal. According to Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the ISU, "'Something was wrong there,' ... 'Not just the individual but also the system. It existed for 70 years. Now we are trying to replace one system with another.'" A new figure skating judging system took effect in 2004, eliminating the 6.0 system perfect scores and instead giving points for various technical elements.

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