New skating body formed

KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Four-time world figure skating champion Kurt Browning has given his support to a dissident figure skating group that has broken away from the International Skating Union, which runs the sport.

The World Skating Federation has been formed in response to corruption in the sport, it was announced yesterday at a news conference in Washington, D.C., where the world figure skating championships are being held this week.

The WSF would like to remove the ISU as the governing body for figure skating.

Browning, who is in Jacksonville, Fla. on tour with Stars On Ice, could not be at the conference but said he submitted a video expressing his support.

\"(We) want the sport to exist beyond our years,\" the Caroline, Alta., native said. \"Sometimes you just need to shake things up and make an attempt to make a change.

\"We\'re putting another option out there for the world of figure skating to consider.\"

American referee Ron Pfenning will serve as the new organization\'s acting president.

Pfenning was dismissed last week as referee of the women\'s event at the world championships. He subsequently resigned from the ISU\'s powerful technical committee.

He said he had received an endorsement from the executive council of the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Pfenning was referee of the controversy-plagued pairs competition at the Salt Lake City Olympics. He revealed French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne said she was pressured to vote for the Russian couple rather than Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. Both the Russians and Canadians were awarded gold medals in the end.

Sale and Pelletier also sent a video message to the news conference yesterday.

Browning, who will be coming to London with Stars on Ice April 27, said figure skating is being ruined by controversy.

\"The sport\'s been good to me, it\'s time for us to take good care of it. It deserves respect from people and it\'s starting to not be taken seriously.\"

Unhappy with ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta and his organization, the new group has contacted International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, asking for a meeting.

The WSF would be involved only with figure skating; the ISU also oversees speed skating.

Browning said there have been too few figure skating people in the top echelon of the body for a while.

\"It should be separate. Figure skaters should run figure skating and speed skaters should run speed skating.\"

Ice dancing has been fingered as the discipline with the most problems within figure skating.

Allegations some ice dancing judges have been vote swapping date back years.

Browning believes Canadian ice dancers Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, who began competing yesterday at the worlds, have been hindered by the corrupt system of \"negotiation and manipulation.\"

Browning said when he represented Canada at international events, he did not see any fixing of votes.

\"It seemed to me that I controlled my own destiny as a single skater.\"


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