IPSU – The International Professional Skaters Union


April 1, 2013

   In The Loop Extended Articles

IPSU was founded in 1963 by a number of prominent coaches, led by West German, Erich Zeller, coach of Dagmar Lurz and Norbert Schramm. Fritz Dietl, a charter member, was its second president. The PSA and EPSA, the European Professional Skaters Association, were strong supporters.

The original concept of IPSU was to train coaches, host seminars, and produce newsletters to keep coaches informed world-wide, but as countries formed their own coaching organizations, the mission of IPSU evolved. There was a definite need for coaches to be able to communicate with the ISU directly.

IPSU coaches would meet with ISU officials in order to relay the thoughts of coaches. Meetings were held at international events such as Skate America, Skate Canada, Nations Cup, etc., between IPSU and the ISU. Coaches like Don Laws, Carlo Fassi, Kathy Casey, Sheldon Galbraith, Deitier Gailhaguet, Peter Jonas, Kerry Leitch, in conjunction with ISU member Sally Stapleford had been making great progress. Unfortunately, the ISU became wary of the coaches influence and lack of control over the group. At the 1993 World Championships in Prague, five representatives of EPSA, CPSA (Canada), the PSA, and a representative of the Orient/Oceana area, which included the APSA (Australia) and the Japanese Coaching Association voted in President Kerry Leitch of Canada. After Ottavio Cinquanta became ISU President in 1994, the Union shortly thereafter formed their own coaching commission; the ISU informed IPSU that they would no longer need any input from the group. By 1997, IPSU was barely operating.

In 1999 at the Helsinki Worlds, there was a meeting between Dr. Sepp Schönmetzler and Daniel Fürer of EPSA, and Gerry Lane, (PSA president at that time) to decide on the future of IPSU. Gerry was voted President, with Fürer Vice-President and Dr. Schönmetzler, Secretary. The following year, another meeting was hosted by the group to formally present IPSU’s agenda. While the thought was to maintain the original focus of IPSU, there was a disconnect between the ISU coaches commission and the coaches in general. Finally in 2001, The ISU requested that IPSU change their name. After discussion, the IPSU board voted to change the name to the World Skating Coaches Alliance. Gerry Lane was the 1st and only president of WSCA.

According to Gerry, “We met for a couple of more years, but the different federations handled coaches so differently. In some federations the coaches ran the federation, in some countries the coaches were trained and regulated by the government and in some instances the coaches were mandated and controlled by the federation. While most of the international coaches admired the PSA for how they were able to work cooperatively with their federation while maintaining their autonomy, this was not going to be possible on a global basis.”