International Skating Union
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The International Skating Union (ISU) is the international governing body for competitive ice skating disciplines, including figure skating, synchronized skating, speed skating, and short track speed skating. It was founded in Scheveningen, Netherlands, in July 1892, making it one of the oldest international sport federations. The ISU was formed to establish standardized international rules and regulations for the skating disciplines it governs, and to organize international competitions in these disciplines. It is now based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
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, ... [and] 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, former 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.
In addition to sanctioning other international competitions, the ISU designates the following competitions each year as "ISU Championships":
Long track speed skating:
- World Allround Speed Skating Championships (1893–)
- World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships (1996– ,held only in non-Olympic years, except for in 1998)
- World Sprint Speed Skating Championships (1972–)
- World Junior Speed Skating Championships (1974–)
- European Speed Skating Championships (1893–)
Short track speed skating:
- World Short Track Speed Skating Championships (1976–)
- World Short Track Speed Skating Team Championships (1991–2011)
- World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships (1994–)
- European Short Track Speed Skating Championships (1997–)
- World Figure Skating Championships (1896–)
- World Junior Figure Skating Championships (1976–)
- European Figure Skating Championships
- Four Continents Figure Skating Championships (1999–)
- World Synchronized Skating Championships (2000–)
- World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships (2013–)
First world championships
Dates and locations of first world championships in various disciplines held under the auspices of the ISU:
- 1893: Speed skating (men only), Amsterdam
- 1896: Figure skating (men only), St. Petersburg
- 1906: Figure skating (ladies), Davos
- 1908: Figure skating (pairs), St. Petersburg
- 1936: Speed skating (women), Stockholm
- 1952: Figure skating (ice dance), Paris
- 1970: Sprint speed skating, West Allis, Wisconsin
- 1978: Short track speed skating, Solihull, UK
- 2000: Synchronized skating, Minneapolis
Cooperation with other sports
ISU has an agreement with Federation of International Bandy to use the same arenas. The cooperation between the two federations is increasing, since both have an interest in more indoor venues with large ice surfaces being built.
As of the summer of 2008, the ISU consisted of 63 member nations, with a governing council of 11. To add any proposal to the agenda of meetings, it must have support from four-fifths of the members. Proposals on the agenda are approved with a two-thirds majority vote.
Presidents of the ISU
- 1892–1895 Pim Mulier
- 1895–1925 Viktor Balck
- 1925–1937 Ulrich Salchow
- 1937–1945 Gerrit W. A. van Laer
- 1945–1953 Herbert J. Clarke
- 1953–1967 James Koch
- 1967–1967 Ernst Labin
- 1967–1980 Jacques Favart
- 1980–1994 Olaf Poulsen
- 1994–2016 Ottavio Cinquanta
- 2016–present Jan Dijkema
As of 16 July 2018, there are 93 member federations of the International Skating Union. In many countries, figure skating and speed skating are governed by different federations, but both can be members of the ISU; the national federations are ISU members for figure skating, for speed skating or for both. Some of these national federations also govern other sports in their countries, but are not ISU members in that capacity. Apart from the national governing bodies, there are also some old skating clubs which are members in their own rights.
- Long track speed skating
- Short track speed skating
- International figure skating
- List of international sport federations
- Wolf-Dieter Montag, medical advisor to the ISU
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