Cracked Ice
About Sonia

Biography | CV | Induction into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame

Sonia Bianchetti Garbato has been a trailblazer in figure skating for 40 years. She broke barriers as the first woman to be elected to office in the male-dominated International Skating Union. For 25 years she was a top-ranked skating official, rule maker, and Olympic referee. She served as a member and chairman of the Figure Skating Committee of the International Skating Union from 1967 to 1988 and then member of the 11-person Council for four years, from 1988 to 1992. In 2015, she was elected into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

During her time with the ISU, in addition to officiating at several championships every year and seven Olympic Winter Games, she moderated judges' seminars all over the world. She completely redrafted the ISU judges' handbooks for compulsory figures, the short program, free skating, and pair skating (with Olympic champion coach Tamara Moskvina). She worked tirelessly to modernize the sport, leading the charge to eliminate the compulsory figures, creating the marking system for the short program, and inventing and writing the judges' training seminars that are still in use today.

She fought against corruption in judging, taking severe actions against those who were caught cheating or acting improperly. She also fought for more democracy and transparency, and for more fairness and accountability in the conduct of the Union.

In early 2003 she was asked to be part of a group of "dissidents" who felt that the time had come for figure skating to regain control over speed skating, founding a new international federation, the World Skating Federation. She helped to write its constitution, in which the main objectives were to return credibility to the sport by fighting corruption among the judges, adopting a strong Code of Ethics, instituting a zero tolerance policy for serious misconduct by officials and involving the athletes and the coaches at all levels in the governance of the sport. In July 2003 the ISU finally adopted a Code of Ethics which was very similar to the one proposed by the WSF, and the United States Figure Skating Association submitted to the ISU a number of proposals that are identical to the principles contained in the WSF Constitution.

Ever since the ISU President, Ottavio Cinquanta, announced a revolutionary new judging and scoring system of his own invention following the pair scandal in Salt Lake City in 2002, Sonia Bianchetti has written several articles in which she contests the validity of the system and expresses her concerns on the impact it will have on the structure of the sport.