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Canada changes figure skating gender rules

The new policy covers the pairs and ice dance events

Canadian pair Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar performing in October. ©  Dustin Satloff / International Skating Union via Getty Images

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.”

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 non-discrimination, 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.

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Butcher added that the rules change would “allow for new and exciting partnerships in the pair and ice dance disciplines to compete at the national level.”

There will be no new event categories, meaning any team can enter the pair or ice dance disciplines at Skate Canada domestic tournaments.

The move appears to pave the way for all-female and all-male teams, or combinations with skaters who identify as non-binary, for example.

American skater Timothy LeDuc made history at the Beijing Olympics in February when he became the first skater who openly identifies as non-binary to appear in an addition of the Winter Games.

LeDuc competed alongside partner Ashley Cain-Gribble in the pairs event, where they finished down in eighth place.

Skate Canada noted that its changes are limited to domestic events, and that international tournaments would still be governed by ISU rules.


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