Less than a month after Skate Canada announced a policy change enabling same-sex duos to compete in the country’s ice dancing and pairs figure skating competitions, athletes throughout the sport are still processing the potential changes.
Representing Team Canada, LGBTQ Olympic ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver enthusiastically endorsed the policy, revealing to The Canadian Press that it would have made a huge difference to her as she was figuring out her identity.
“There’s so many ways it can impact young people,” Weaver reflected, “But as an ice dancer and especially as a queer person growing up that didn’t know she was queer, seeing different stories represented and different partnering, different types of identities on the ice, would have been very liberating for me.”
The power of representation in ice dancing had been on Weaver’s mind for a while. When she came out publicly 2021, she looked at the current status of her sport and wondered aloud why more skaters aren’t out.
“Why are there no queer women? What’s the reason? That’s why I feel it’s my job to ask why we don’t feel safe. Why can’t you be one and the other? It’s our job to look critically at our sport and say what groups of people aren’t represented here.”
Based on her enthusiastic response to the new policy, it’s clear that Weaver thinks it goes a long way toward preventing that sense of isolation she felt as a closed athlete in her formative years.
It’s not entirely surprising that Weaver supported Skate Canada’s policy change. But during her press interview, she revealed that the new same sex pair ruling also received an endorsement from none other than Russian Olympic Gold Medalist Maxim Trankov.
“Max said, ‘Why not? A skater is a skater and if you can do the elements, then who’s to say it’s any different?’” Weaver related, “And I think that, coming out of Russia, that’s a big statement.”
That’s putting it mildly. In a country ruled by Vladimir Putin, Trankov’s acceptance of same-sex figure skating and ice dancing pairs is an act of bravery.
Elsewhere in the Russian figure skating world, though, the reaction was more like you would expect, with Olympian Aleksandr Galliamov dismissingly chiding, “I think the authors of this idea were inspired by the movie ‘Blades of Glory.’”
His teammate Vladimir Morozov attempted to sidestep the issue by insisting that a same-sex figure skating pair was a matter of practicality and had nothing to do with LGBTQ inclusion.
“We skated for 1.5 years in America and saw what was happening there,” Morozov explained, “There is a shortage of male partners. Girls from figure skating often skate alone, there are even special competitions for them. I think that’s why they found such a solution. It’s not related to sexual orientation, it’s caused by a lack of boys. Especially in Canada where everybody plays hockey.”
Two-time Olympic champion and current Team Canada coach Scott Moir did admit that opening the competition to same-sex pairs would help recruitment. He recalled “seeing so many women that want to ice dance and not having the opportunity because that partner doesn’t come along or what have you.”
However, Moir also emphasized that with the addition of same-sex pairs, “I see the fact that we have an opportunity to tell a new story and to have a new look.”
While the changes to Canada’s figure skating and ice dancing programs are just beginning, the support of prominent skaters like Weaver, Moir, and Trankov will be welcome news for any same-sex pairs attempting to create a place for themselves in the sport.