ISU membership allows them to compete in sanctioned competitions
BY JEANETTE WANG
AFTER years of scraping the ice, the Singapore Ice Skating Association’s (Sisa) dreams were finally realised yesterday when it was awarded membership to the International Skating Union (ISU).
This follows news in February that Singapore was set to get its first Olympic-sized ice skating rink – a prerequisite for ISU membership – by the end of next year.
The 20m by 40m rink at Jurong Entertainment Centre’s Fuji Ice Palace will be replaced with an Olympic-sized 30m by 60m rink, as part of the $138.2 million overhaul of the centre by CapitaMall Trust.
With membership, Singapore skaters will now be able to compete in ISU-sanctioned events, like the Junior Grand Prix, World Championships and Olympics.
Sisa president Sonja Chong was over the moon yesterday, after receiving the official letter via e-mail.
“The next thing is to start preparing our skaters for international competitions,” she said.
Sisa has also applied for Asian Skating Union membership.
All new ISU members are granted a two-year provisional membership before they get full status – which has the added right of voting. For Singapore, full membership is on condition that it has an Olympic-sized rink in place by end-2009.
A CapitaMall spokesperson said yesterday that the construction of the rink was on track.
Chong said three Singapore skaters can now participate in ISU events. National Novices’ champion Alexandria Wong, 14, and Chong’s daughter, Anja, 13, can compete at Novices’ events, the lowest level of ISU competition.
The Republic’s highest-level skater is China-based national Junior champion Sarah Paw, 15.
Said Chong: “We hope to send Sarah for August’s Junior Grand Prix – subject to funding issues.”
The ISU membership will be a huge boost and motivation for the growing population of ice skaters here.
Fuji’s skating school has nearly 600 students taking at least one private lesson each a week.
Two schools – Henry Park Primary and Shuqun Primary – offer ice skating as a Co-Curricular Activity. Under the Ministry of Education’s Sports Education Programme, 11 other schools have introduced the sport to their students.
“I’m really thrilled,” said Methodist Girls’ School’s Alexandria. “I’m motivated to train harder. It’ll be a great honour to represent Singapore at overseas events.”
Most importantly, figure skating could put an end to the Republic’s chase for that elusive Olympic medal since 1960. Singaporeans, like other Asians, have the ideal physique for the sport – slim, petite frames perfect for twirling and jumping.
A fortnight ago, Japan’s Mao Asada claimed the women’s crown at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Sweden. The 17-year-old was the 13th woman world champion of Asian descent in the past 20 World Championships.
ISU technical committee member Rita Zonnekeyn, a figure skating judge since 1971, told The Straits Times in February that Singapore could shine on the world stage.
“They have the potential, but have no chance to compete against other countries in ISU competitions,” the Belgian said during her visit here. “That’s a pity.”
Well, not anymore.