Skating ahead through challenges; concerns about figure skating championships

Leah Hillier, Copy Editor

     With the 2022 Winter Olympics just around the corner, sports are getting ready. An important part of this is the qualifying events, one of which being the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships held by The International Skating Union.

     The International Skating Union was founded in 1892 in the Netherlands and grew to become the governing body of figure skating, as well as other skating disciplines, including synchronized skating, and both long and short track speed skating.

     Defending their championship titles are American skater Nathan Chen for men’s singles, Russian skater Alina Zagitova for women’s singles, the Chinese pair of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong in pair skating, and the French pair of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in ice dance.

     Figure skaters will “come to Stockholm in March 2021 to compete for the World title and berths for the next Olympic Games in 2022,” according to the ISU. This will be the first World Figure Skating Championship held in the city since 1947, according to Skate Sweden.

     Despite the promises of Worlds happening in a “bubble” as ISU claims, evidence mounts that ice rinks are breeding grounds of Covid-19. A recent study by Yale revealed that poor circulation inside indoor ice arenas “encourage the spread of the coronavirus while also trapping air pollutants released by ice-resurfacing equipment such as Zambonis.” Grace Grasham, senior discussed Yale’s study calling it “concerning for the safety of the skaters.”

     ISU’s attempts to create a bubble around Worlds did not include a mandatory quarantine, especially for skating federations that have previously had COVID-19 run rampant throughout entire skating schools. Sambo-70, one of Russia’s top figure skating schools, has seen many cases of the virus and is not the only one, according to reports by skaters.

     Chen spoke out about his concerns, stating that priority “number one is making sure everyone is being responsible about wearing masks and social distancing, about taking this seriously,” 

     A petition circulating the figure skating community, with over three thousand signatures, as well as the online figure skating community petitioned the ISU, calling for stricter restrictions against the threat of the virus. Despite this, the ISU has not responded to the petition, according to Inside the Games. 

     Grasham agreed with the petition’s main points, saying that “the International Skating Union needs to care more for the safety of the skaters. Covid could seriously injure the skaters, and with how many have already been infected with Covid, A World Championship without following proper guidelines is a Worlds that should not happen.”

     Athletes will fly into Stockholm via commercial airlines, and the organizing company based in Stockholm will provide meals and lodging from March 21 to lunch on March 29, a day before and after the official event start and end date, according to the ISU.