Rogge Won't Meet With Skate Group

Times Staff Writer

Dealing a potentially crushing blow to the dissident World Skating Federation and its hopes of replacing the International Skating Union as the governing body of figure skating, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge declined to meet with leaders of the group or consider its platforms.

"We recognize the ISU. They're doing a good job, and we are happy with them," Rogge told Associated Press.

"We recognize only one federation per sport."

The WSF, unveiled this week, wants to abolish anonymous judging, a product of the reforms instituted by ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta after the pairs judging scandal at the Salt Lake City Olympics. The WSF also wants figure skating to be governed separately from speedskating.

"We asked the ISU to review the judging, and they did it," Rogge said. "Some disagree with the new system, but that's an internal issue and not for us to intervene .... As long as all the components of the federation are treated fairly, there is no reason to break it into pieces."

Paul Wylie, the 1992 Olympic silver medalist and a WSF supporter, acknowledged IOC opposition could hurt the new group but vowed to fight for athletes' interests. "There are many people in figure skating who do not believe the ISU is doing a good job and oppose important elements of the ISU policy and culture," he said.

"We hope at some point he'll consider meeting with us and he'll have an open mind. People around the world are not pleased with the secret judging and the fact figure skating seems to be, in essence, run by speedskaters. There's not a culture of democracy or considering athletes' or coaches' opinions as valid."

A demonstration organized by SkateFair, a group of skating fans opposed to Cinquanta's reforms, drew about 100 fans outside the MCI Center on Friday. SkateFair isn't aligned with the WSF, but they share many aims.

Sarah Ramer, a college student from New Jersey who attended the demonstration, was undaunted by Rogge's dismissal of the WSF. "Hopefully, in time he will see that what went wrong at Salt Lake City hasn't been fixed, and the system Cinquanta scrawled on the back of a napkin isn't going to work," she said. "This is just the beginning."

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