ISU Congress 2024: Historic milestone for ice skating, ISU

The 59th International Skating Union (ISU) Congress came to a close in Las Vegas, USA, after five inspiring and productive days of meetings and presentations where over 250 delegates from 65 countries gathered to shape the future of ice skating. They made many groundbreaking decisions to grow the sport and modernise the organisation, marking the start of a transformative new era.

During an online press conference with media from around the world, ISU President Jae Youl Kim said: "We are building on the proud traditions of ice skating to grow our sport. Our Vision 2030 is athlete-first, member-focused and fan-centric. We are taking the necessary steps to make our sport even more exciting and to engage more fans." 

On the final day, delegates ratified the work of the ISU Council over the past two years in developing the ISU Vision 2030, a high-level strategic roadmap to guide the federation to greater growth, innovation, sustainability and unity. The ISU Congress overwhelmingly supported this step by approving the 2024-2026 Financial Budget and the Constitutional Reform - two critical tools to ensure investment and agility to implementate these initiatives. 

A historic milestone was reached with the adoption of the resolution to reform the ISU Constitution and General Regulations to ensure greater clarity, consistency and flexibility. A drafting Committee and a Member Consultation Group will be appointed to lead and oversee the collaborative revision process, ensuring that the perspective of the membership is reflected. The results will be presented to an Extraordinary Congress in 2025. 

The ISU Congress also agreed to take significant steps to innovate the organisation to meet the new realities and expectations of the rapidly evolving sports landscape. "We are opening the doors to more commercial opportunities to bring new revenue into the sport for the ISU, its Members and the Skaters," said Director General Colin Smith. 

ISU President Jae Youl Kim and Gracie Gold in Las Vegas. ISU
ISU President Jae Youl Kim and Gracie Gold in Las Vegas. ISU

The ISU Congress made a striking decision to allow the presence of clothing manufacturers' brands on Figure Skating costumes. "There has long been a strong connection between the fashion industry and skaters. With this move, the ISU is further embracing the opportunities offered by the fashion industry, allowing skaters and fashion designers to engage directly and benefit from each other. This is a very positive step forward," said Smith. 

The new Short Track World Tour will launch with new helmet designs and racing suits for each team to differentiate the Short Track World Tour season from the World Championships. "We know the fast, dynamic and exciting nature of Short Track racing," said Smith. "We will capture that in a new sports property that encapsulates the World Cup Short Track series that we have in Europe, North America and Asia and package it in a bold way." 

Other measures will include upgrading event concepts, TV broadcast presentations and digital engagement channels. As part of the Federation's rebranding, a new suite of modernised TV graphics will be phased in across all sports from the 2024/25 season, complementing the in-venue and TV viewing experience to create more engaging fan and sponsor packages. 

A new unified and holistic digital ecosystem will be developed to deliver a tailored user experience for fans and businesses and to refresh the digital identity. The new website, mobile application and asset management platform will create more collaborative and interactive opportunities, while allowing the fan base to expand globally. 

As the skaters are figure skating's greatest asset, the ISU reaffirmed its strong commitment to safe and clean sport and stressed the importance of the mental and physical well-being of athletes. 

Invited as a guest speaker, Kirsty Burrows, Head of the IOC Safe Sport Unit, delivered a powerful speech on safety, including the prevention of abuse and harassment in sport. In a special fireside chat, American Olympian Gracie Gold shared with the Congress her very personal story of overcoming mental health challenges as an elite figure skater. 

The ISU continues to take steps to implement the ISU Safeguarding Policy, including the appointment of a full-time Safeguarding Officer, increased cooperation with related organisations, and the development of educational and promotional campaigns on the issue. The Congress approved a 20% increase in the annual membership fee to support member federations in implementing athlete protection initiatives in their own countries. 

ISU President Jae-Youl Kim said the delegates: "Thank you very much for your great energy and constructive engagement. What a great success. Your enthusiasm for our Vision 2030 and its priorities is greatly appreciated and will enable us to achieve our goals, attracting more fans worldwide, making our sport more relevant and bringing in new expertise and innovative approaches to commercial growth. Together we can go further."