Canadian skating officials have announced new rules which mean that teams in ice dance and pairs events no longer need to consist of one male and one female skater. Instead, the definition of a team has been revised to state that it should “consist of two skaters” regardless of their gender identities.

The change covers domestic events and was announced by Skate Canada this week as part of its Skating for Everyone initiative.

The organization said the previous policy of exclusively male-female skating pairs was “inconsistent” with its vision and “commitment to nondiscrimination, including non-discrimination based on gender identity.”

“This change is about removing barriers to participation in skating, and we believe it will have a significant impact in ensuring all gender identities are recognized and accepted equally and without prejudice,” said Skate Canada president Karen Butcher.

According to the news release, this definition was “inconsistent with Skate Canada’s vision of Skating for Everyone and Skate Canada’s commitment to nondiscrimination, including non-discrimination based on gender identity.”

Here’s what Karen Butcher, President, of Skate Canada said in a statement:

“By updating the definition of team, many individuals in the figure skating community in Canada will have new opportunities to embrace the sport. This change is about removing barriers to participation in skating, and we believe it will have a significant impact in ensuring all gender identities are recognised and accepted equally and without prejudice.” 

“This change has been collectively endorsed by Skate Canada and will allow for new and exciting partnerships in the pair and ice dance disciplines to compete at the national level. Skate Canada is privileged to continue the advancement of skating in Canada by making rule and policy change that allows everyone to experience the joy of skating,” she continued.

Skate Canada tweeted that there will be no new event categories and that any team would be able to compete in the pair or ice dance events at any Skate Canada national competition, CBC reported.

More details of this story from the news release:

The Podium Pathway is the final Skate Canada pathway to be revised to align with Skate Canada policies related to non-discrimination and gender diversity. The STAR and Adult pathways were adopted to the ‘two skaters’ terminology in 2019.

“It has been a privilege to work with the Skate Canada Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Operating Committee and push forward this proposal to update the definition of “Team” to include all pairings of gender identities,” said Kaitlyn Weaver, EDIA member and Olympian. “Ice dance is my passion, and although beautifully steeped in tradition, the future of our sport depends on looking critically and assertively at who and who is not represented. All skaters deserve to have a home on the ice— inclusive of their fullest selves. I look forward to seeing that become a reality in the competitive arena.”

Allowing any two skaters to compete through the Podium Pathway will have a significant impact on the sport development in both the pair and ice dance disciplines. This update will allow skaters to move forward with further achievements and competitive successes through the Skating to Win strategic imperative.

“It was necessary for the ice dance and pair world to change their definition of team from a man and a woman to just two people skating together, however they identify. Many colleagues and I have pushed for this change and are excited that Skate Canada has taken action to make skating more accessible,” said Scott Moir, Skate Canada coach and Olympic Champion. “Our craft is a mixture of athleticism and art and because of this we have a unique opportunity for a level playing field unlike any other sport, regardless of how individuals identify. This change will push the sport forward in many ways with the creation of new and interesting work from athletes that now can perform together.”

The definition and the language will be updated in the rule book, Podium Pathway documents, and the scoring system. Previously pair and ice dance teams required an entry of a woman and a man. Updated language of ‘skater A’ and ‘skater B’, ‘lifted partner’ and ‘lifting partner’ as well as ‘follow’ and ‘lead’ can all be used to differentiate each athlete.

Sources: TheGatewayPundit, ScateCanada, CBC

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