“With the new age minimum Europe will face great difficulties. It’s hard to motivate athletes for a long time and we just have fewer people involved in skating.” Director of the Hungarian Figure Skating Federation Gurgen Vardanjan
Director of the Hungarian Figure Skating Federation Gurgen Vardanjan about results of the ISU congress, age minimum and holding competitions without Russian skaters.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 13th July by Vlad Zhukov
What do you think about the Congress?
Gurgen Vardanjan: Basically, it went well. There were elections, important decisions were made. Some things I agreed with, some I didn’t.
I heard that many delegates believed in the ideas of the new ISU President. But now there are doubts about his candidacy.
Gurgen Vardanjan: I think it’s too early to talk about it. The term is too short. We have to wait at least 100 days to see what direction the ISU will take. Although this period still won’t be enough. He wants to change a lot of things. This will take time, only after a few months we will understand how he wants to reorganize the ISU.
What exactly do you expect from him?
Gurgen Vardanjan: I would like the ISU to be more flexible in terms of decision-making, marketing and communications. I wish things were a little different. But so far it is rather difficult to talk about such things, because the scheme of the union’s work is not transparent enough. Anyway, for me.
I expect all the work that is being done at the ISU to be a little clearer and more visible. Many, many things need to be changed, because in a number of issues the system does not work. For example, it is very difficult to find competition results on the ISU website. Everything needs to be improved and upgraded a bit.
How respectful and apolitical did it seem to you? Because Russain skating federation noted that there was a lot of politics at the congress.
Gurgen Vardanjan: You know, the situation was such… To be honest, I expected it to be much worse. It seems to me that the Russian delegation was treated well. Of course, the elections to the technical committees did not go as the Russian side would have liked. And it is very unfortunate that this happened.
Behind the scenes, many people said words of regret that Yulia Andreeva did not get into the technical committee for single and pair skating, that Uliana Chirkova did not make it to the synchronized skating committee. A lot of things were said there … But the voting was secret, so everyone voted as they wanted. We need to make these decisions and continue to work on the development of sports.
You say that everyone voted as they wanted. But I talked to some representatives of the European federations about this, and one of them said that he was asked not to vote for Andreeva for political reasons.
Gurgen Vardanjan: Anything is possible. No one gave us any instructions personally, we made decisions on our own. I haven’t heard of this, but I assume it’s possible. I can’t speak for other countries.
Regarding voting for the age minimum – as I understand it, another proposal was put forward before, to raise it to 16 years.
Gurgen Vardanjan: Yes, we participated in this proposal, but we were not its initiators. But it was also a secret voting, and everyone voted… Well, as best they could (laughs). I think that with the age minimum there will be no drastic changes in terms of the results of competitions. It will be easier to adapt to the new rules for those who have a lot of athletes. And it will be much more difficult for those who don’t have many athletes. It will be very difficult for us – in Europe – but what can we do?
Then why was this proposal even made?
Gurgen Vardanjan: This is a compromise proposal. But, you see, they did not support it. I believe, because those who were originally going to vote for the age minimum did not want to retreat from their position.
Some strange story also happened with the main vote: at first it was announced that 16 delegates opposed, and then only 11 were indicated in the document.
Gurgen Vardanjan: It was, yes. On the other hand, both 11 and 16 is still not enough. Since 100 delegates were voted for, it doesn’t matter anymore. There was also a very big difference in the votes in the presidential elections, so we need to put up with it and work for the good of figure skating.
You say ‘it will be hard for us.’ Do you think it will be more difficult for Europe to adjust to the new age minimum than for Russia?
Gurgen Vardanjan: In my opinion, yes. It will be hard for us and our athletes to rebuild. Because it is very difficult to motivate athletes for a long time so that they stay at least until they are 17 years old. This is a difficult process. I think we will survive it, of course, but not without difficulties.
In Asia, Russia, America, Canada, it is easier to motivate skaters. In Europe, it is more difficult, because we have corny fewer people involved in figure skating. Therefore, I think that with the new age minimum Europe will face great difficulties.
But it seems to me that if this all hits our sport very hard and over time we are faced with an outflow of athletes and a decrease in the quality of competitions, the ISU should quickly draw conclusions and try to change something. They have special bodies that should control this – technical committees, councils. They are also interested in figure skating keeping its entertainment.
Another important issue at the congress – the extension of the removal of Russia – it was mentioned only in passing.
Gurgen Vardanjan: Very briefly, it’s true. I think the congress did not really want to discuss this issue. There will be a more detailed decision in the near future. I don’t know if it will be short term or longer. Let’s wait. And the congress, in my opinion, was simply not ready to make any decisions on this matter.
How much does the suspension of our skaters affect the world figure skating? Relatively speaking, will it be difficult to gather a full arena without Russians in Budapest at the European Championships?
Gurgen Vardanjan: Very hard. And not only in Hungary – in any country. Many people went to see Russian athletes and bought tickets. It seems to me that it will be difficult for everyone without Russian skaters.
But I believe that by that time (by the European Championships in Budapest) everything will be back to normal. Russian athletes who love what they do, who don’t get involved in politics, should take part in international competitions – this is my personal opinion.
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