Letter from Ron Pfenning to Alexander Lakernik

Editor's note

This is the text of a letter from Ron Pfenning to Alexander Lakernik, chair of the ISU's Figure Skating Technical Committee, dated March 21, 2003.

According to a Washington Post article dated March 24, 2003,

Cinquanta said referees and judges were notified and asked for comments on the late December Council decision and that no judge -- including Pfenning -- responded to the letter at that time.

This letter from Pfenning contradicts Cinquanta's account by saying that three members of the ISU Figure Skating Technical Committee (including Pfenning himself) submitted their concerns in writing to Lakernik during the first week in January, but that Lakernik effectively ignored the issue.

A PDF version of this letter (showing the signature) is available here.

Text of the letter

Hyannis, March 21, 2003

FAX MESSAGE - 1 page

To:     Alexander Lakernik
Chair, Figure Skating Technical Committee

Dear Alexander,

You have no doubt seen the recent correspondence relating to my scheduled service as a Referee at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships held in Beijing earlier this year. One of those was a letter addressed to me from the President of the International Skating Union ("ISU") in which he seemed to be unaware that three of the members of the Figure Skating Technical Committee (the "Committee"), including me, had previously raised serious concerns about the propriety of procedures set forth in ISU Communication No. 1197 dated December 27, 2003. Each such member of the Committee submitted those concerns to you in writing during the first week in January.

I had hoped that the matter was going to be taken up at the meeting of the Committee held in Malmo during the week of the European Figure Skating Championships. I believe that hope was shared by the other members of the Committee who had submitted those written concerns to you. As you know, I was keenly disappointed that you decided not to have a comprehensive discussion after you had agreed to put that matter on the agenda of issues being taken up by the Committee. I did find your explanation for that omission curious at best: that matters relating to judging, systems for conducting competitions, and evaluation of Judges, has ceased to be a "technical" matter over which the Committee could have any input at all. If my memory is correct, your explanation was that the whole issue of judging secrecy reflected in Communication 1197 was now exclusively a "political" matter.

As you can appreciate, I reject that completely and will examine avenues of recourse which might be available to be sure that the Committee fully discharges its obligations under the ISU Constitution, General Regulations, and Special Regulations in supervising the technical aspects of Men's, Ladies', and Pairs skating and fulfilling its role as protector of the integrity of them. That cannot occur if the Chairman of the Committee refuses to allow it to do its work or otherwise allows some other interests within the ISU to usurp its authority.

As you will also have seen from the correspondence with the President, my tenure of service with the Committee, and my assignment as a Referee at the upcoming World Figure Skating Championships, have now both been made a casualty by systemic failures in this matter. Please take all steps necessary to be sure that the sport itself is not the next casualty. It is your fiduciary duty to do so - to the Members of the ISU (who elected you), to the other members of the Committee, and to all of the Referees and Judges who have dedicated themselves to the sport and the integrity of it.


Ronald T. Pfenning

c.c.:    Members of the Council, International Skating Union
Members, Figure Skating Technical Committee
Chair and Members, Ice Dancing Technical Committee
Chair and Members, Synchronized Skating Technical Committee

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