Tim Wood, world champion and Olympic silver medalist
Bill Fauver, five-time U.S. pairs silver medalist
Tim Gerber, ice skating technical specialist
Monica Friedlander, journalist
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that Ottavio Cinquanta resign from his post as president of the International Skating Union (ISU) in light of the severe damage he is inflicting on the sport of figure skating.
During his tenure as head of the ISU, Mr. Cinquanta has presided over the most dramatic decline in the popularity of figure in the sport’s history. It is time for him to resign. Here are some of the reasons for this request:
• According to the ISU’s own constitution, Cinquanta’s term was supposed to end in June of this year due to an age requirement that would have made him ineligible for reelection. The extension of his term, which he requested and obtained last year, is unprecedented and undemocratic.
• Mr. Cinquanta is a speed skater who, by his own admission, does not understand figure skating, and in fact shows no appreciation for its artistic side. Nevertheless, he has made radical changes to the sport that have profoundly changed figure skating for the worse, increased corruption in judging, and dramatically reduced the sport’s popularity.
• Mr. Cinquanta wants figure skating to be less artistic and more technical and quantifiable, snubbing the very qualities that made figure skating unique and popular: its unique mix of athleticism and artistry. Figure skating has no purpose or audience without its two facets coexisting side by side.
• One of Mr. Cinquanta's most notorious changes was the introduction of anonymous judging, which encourages fraud and eliminates accountability. Mr. Cinquanta undertook this action in response to the 2002 Olympic pair skating scandal, which he used as a pretext to overturn the century-old judging system with one in which cheating takes place more often than ever before. Moreoever, the scoring is so convoluted as to not be understood or challenged.
• The new system has resulted in more political and reputation-based judging than ever before, with skaters being held up, resulting in scandal after scandal. The worst judging scandal occurred at this year’s Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where the results of the ladies' competition and composition of the judging panel have been the subject of great controversy. So far Mr. Cinquanta has chosen to overlook not only a petition signed by two million people requesting an inquiry into this matter, but also an official protest from the South Korean Olympic and skating federations. The protest had been covered in the world press, yet Mr. Cinquanta stated in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that he had not even heard about it. That statement alone is a slap in the face of the sport over which he presides.
• On March 25 of this year, Mr. Cinquanta sent a letter to the ISU representatives in which he proposed yet another series of radical and irrational changes. Most notable among these is his request to abolish the popular short program from figure skating competition. If this proposal were to pass, it would destroy a beloved half-century-old tradition that never caused any controversy and would devastate the sport both financially and in terms of its appeal to fans. At the same time, he wants to retain the most egregious change he implemented: anonymous judging.
As long as Mr. Cinquanta remains in office, figure skating remains mired in incompetence and corruption. Fans are deserting the sport in droves, competitions are often held in near-empty arenas, most shows have folded, TV ratings crashed, the once-thriving professional scene has disappeared, and the sport fails to produce stars to inspire the young and attract fans. In short the financial viability of the sport is at severe risk.
For the love of figure skating, Mr. Cinquanta needs to resign and allow figure skating to be led by an expert in this sport. After so many years of failure, Mr. Cinquanta needs to finally help the sport — by leaving it.