All about the new "Elite 12" category


The “Elite 12” concept is open to all ISU members’ Senior or Junior level teams. (Credits: Ice Galaxy - 2019)

As announced exclusively last weekend during our "Express" edition, the International Skating Union (ISU) creates a new category for synchronized skating. Called "Elite 12", it will allow Senior and Junior level teams to skate with 12 skaters.

With the cancellation of the ISU World Synchronized Championships 2021 for both Senior and Junior Teams and many synchronized skating international events, the ISU Synchronized Skating Technical Committee (SySTC) is providing an opportunity for synchro teams to present their free skating programs with fewer skaters.

The “Elite 12” concept will provide "a future competitive alternative for members with fewer top-level skaters". The division will be for Senior and Junior teams composed of only twelve skaters, explained the ISU in a press release.

Why a new category?
The ISU hopes that this new division could become even more "exciting with increased speed of movement" and could also provide "greater possibilities on technical elements".

"The Elite 12 concept will enable the SySTC to assess future opportunities for this new category of Synchronized Skating such as expansion into other ISU and IOC programs,"  the ISU said.

The announcement was first made last weekend during the "Jura Synchro Express" on YouTube. Philippe Maitrot, chair of the synchronized skating technical committee at the ISU and main guest of the show had given the information to the fans on video.

"The main reason why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not include our discipline was that we are too many on the ice. The IOC also asked the ISU to reduce the number of athletes [in other skating disciplines]. Moreover, some teams are struggling each year to find 16 skaters, even in top countries. A new category has become a necessity," he explained.

Will the limited number of skaters make it easier for new countries to create synchro teams and join the discipline? (Credits: Ice Galaxy - 2019)

Some other sports federations, like rugby, already made this step and also had to reduce the number to be included in the Olympic program. "Rugby was part of the Olympic Games and was kicked out by the IOC, but they came back with a reduced number of athletes," Philippe Maitrot said. 

"It's important for the athletes, for the skaters, for the coaches, for the whole community of synchronized skating. If we don't try everything we can, there is no chance that we become one day Olympic. The new category "Elite 12" could be a big chance for us to be included in the next Olympic program."

"When you get to the Olympic program, you get sponsors, TV, more money, and consideration. That's what we need," said Philippe Maitrot.

For the chair of the ISU synchro technical committee, the goal is not to cancel the teams of 16 skaters who can continue to skate in the "normal" ISU Senior or Junior at the same time if they want to. "We can have an international season with two categories, the 12 and the 16, and having for the Olympic program, only the Elite 12 division," he added. 

Watch the full interview!

Next steps
The "Elite 12" teams can already think about and develop a 4-minute free program (for Seniors) or a 3:30 minute free program (for Juniors) using the current Well-Balanced Program requirements as a general guideline with the additional freedom to vary from the current Difficulty Groups of Elements.

Teams interested in the "Elite 12" division can contact the SySTC ( for discussion and further development. The e-mail and video may be sent from the ISU Member or directly from the teams’ coach and must contain the name of the team(s), name and e-mail of the coach, category (SR/JR).

More info in the ISU communication

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