From: RSSIR FAQ maintainer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Recreational Figure Skating FAQ - Adult Skaters
Organization: ChattterBox Inc
Expires: 01/19/08 21:10:07 PDT
Summary: Recreational figure skating (Participant) FAQ on Adult Skaters
NNTP-Posting-Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2007 00:10:08 EST
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2007 05:10:08 GMT
Disclaimer: Approval for *.answers is based on form, not content
Last-modified: Feb 27 2007
Recreational Figure Skating FAQ
* Basic Skating
* Advanced Skills
* Adult Skaters
3.1 Adult beginner skaters
The news group rec.sport.skating.ice.recreational sees quite a few postings
from adults who have just discovered skating as a recreational activity.
Don't let age, weight or perceived lack of athletic ability deter you from
the fun and accomplishment to be gained. There are several common factors
that affect adult beginners in particular, including fear of falling, work
demands, and the dreaded *skater mother from hell*.
3.1.1 The skater mother from Hell and other horrors
Wherever you skate, there will be a mother who doesn't skate herself but has
a young girl enrolled at the rink. She may consider you to be taking up
space on the ice. Any space is too much. Or you may outweigh little Suzy by
a factor of three, and she fears that if there is a collision Suzy may get
squashed and have her Olympic ambitions prematurely terminated. Despite the
fact that the session is open to all ages and you've paid full admission,
she complains and starts rumors.
To combat this problem, join the skating club and make a point to get
acquainted with the coaches, adult skaters and parents at the rink.
Volunteer for duties at competitions. Having a group of people who know who
you are, and that you're serious about skating will prevent your being
railroaded by "kids first" rules. Often the answer is to skate with the
intermediate juniors (12 year olds), even if they are much better skaters.
You may also want to become something of an "adult skating activist". But
please remember that all of the people who run the club are volunteers,
giving of themselves and their time just like you. They do not want to be
confronted with an "in your face" adult skater, and you would not want to be
3.1.2 Talent vs. determination
Everyone observes that some skaters seem to have a flair for the sport and
progress faster. How far does determination and practice take you? The
answer is "a long way"! Physical talent may be required to be a high level
competitor, but anyone with a strong desire to improve can learn at least
some of the jumps and master all of the basic skills. A lot depends on how
regularly you can find time for lessons/practice and your willingness to try
and persevere in pursuit of your goals.
3.2 Amount of practice needed to make progress
The final problem is not having the time to skate. In the beginning phases,
it is critical that you skate often enough so that you aren't "starting
over" every session. For most people, this means a minimum of twice a week,
though three times with lessons wouldn't be bad. Once a basic skill is
mastered, then it can be retained even if you only skate occasionally. This
doesn't mean you have to skate yourself to death, a 30-minute
warm-up/lesson/practice session every other day would be worth far more than
a 3-hour session weekly.
Progress always comes in fits and starts. You'll generally know when you've
picked up a new trick or mastered a skill, but it's difficult to assess your
overall progress. If you're still skating, enjoying yourself and being
challenged, count that as progress.
3.3 Adult-Onset Skating Syndrome (AOSS)
So you're 30-something or 40-something and have never skated, or skated a
bit as a kid. But the sight of the skaters on TV gets something going in the
pit of your stomach so you get some skates and take a few lessons. Next
thing you know you're hooked! Some of the symptoms of this disease are:
1) You start dreaming about sit-spins and double jumps.
2) You find yourself practicing spread-eagles while waiting for the bus.
3) The major factor in choosing an apartment/vacation destination is a
nearby rink. Corollary: You know the day/hour of every skating session
within 50 miles.
4) You start planning your work and family life around your skating
sessions. Corollary: Your dog fetches your skates on command.
5) You put off buying clothes to pay for more coaching. Corollary: The
clothes you DO buy are made of Lycra and sequins.
6) You break in your skates by wearing them at work and slip on the way to
the printer, suffering a black eye.
7) You forget to take work clothes to the rink and end up spending your work
day in your skating costume. None of your colleagues seems surprised.
8) You hype your Alpha test so much at work that your co-workers think it's
a qualifying event for Nationals.
If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself, you are suffering from AOSS
my friend! Subscribe to rec.sport.skating.ice.recreational. At least you
will have the compassion of others who are dealing with this problem, and
you may find the solution for centering that darned scratch spin!
With some exceptions, group lessons are mostly concerned with getting you
from the "learn to skate" stage, though basic stroking and edges and then
finish up with figures and edges (or dance), without getting into the more
advanced jumps or spins. Even if you already know how to skate, this can be
quite worthwhile, depending on the amount of individual attention from the
instructor and the degree of improvement you feel from a disciplined,
progressive review of the basic skills.
As far as group lessons vs. private instruction that's a difficult call -
each has some advantages. The group lesson provides peers and a programmed
sequence of lessons. If you hang in, you'll learn, if not master, a lot of
skills and be able to compare your progress with your peers. If you do have
difficulty however, you're more likely to become discouraged.
Private lessons offer more flexibility, but lacking the fixed pace of the
group lessons, it's possible to get stuck on something that you don't like
or see the point of, but the instructor seems to feel is important before
proceeding. This occurs more often if the lessons are infrequent or if you
really haven't developed good 2-way communications with the instructor. If
this is a problem, try getting some off-ice quality time to discuss your
progress and goals - offer to buy coffee or ask if there's a "a time when we
can sit down and talk for a few minutes".
Moving from private lessons to group lessons, or re-starting group lessons
after dropping out can be difficult. You can't slough off the easy stuff or
you'll just hit a brick wall where you had trouble before. If this
situation, concentrate on doing that easy stuff as nicely as you can, using
your hard earned "advanced" skills.
You can also supplement group lessons with private instruction or use the
group lessons to provide more "structured" practice time for what you're
also learning in the private lessons. It's hard to predict how well this
will work out for any given person, all you can do is plunk down your money
and try it. Again, talk to your instructor - many will recommend more
frequent lessons with them, but few will really object to the group lessons.
Plenty of practice time is a wonderful thing, but too much unsupervised
practice between lessons isn't a good idea. Not that you'll injure yourself,
but you can end up doing things the "hard way" and forming habit/balance
patterns that can interfere with your longer term progress. Invest in a
little private instruction in addition to your group lessons. This will
prevent bad habits from becoming ingrained and make your practice time more
worthwhile and cost-effective.
3.5 the pay-off!
A man must love a thing very much if he not only
practices it without any hope of fame and money,
but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.
-- (apparently written by G. K. Chesterton)
(posted by Judy Tyrer)
Let's look at the process of learning to skate. First of all, if skating
were easy, it wouldn't take 10+ years to learn the sport. So get over the
notion that you will get results, any kind of results, quickly. You
absolutely must fall in love with the process of skating. And the process of
skating involves a lot of self examination. You will learn to face your
fears. You will learn perseverance like you've never experienced it. And you
will have the greatest highs in the world when after months and months and
months of working at something without any indication of improvement you
have an "AHA!" moment and suddenly find yourself gracefully and seemingly
effortlessly doing that which only a month ago seemed impossible.
Skating involves complete control over every single muscle in your body.
Learn to focus NOT on getting the trick, but one gaining a greater sense of
awareness of your body and increased control of it. The ice rink is the
skater's laboratory. It is where we go to experiment. What happens if I turn
my head this way? What happens if I lean a little more that way? What
happens if I drop my shoulder another 1/2 inch? If you go to each skating
session with the goal of learning more about how your body affects your
skating, you will never leave frustrated. You may learn 1001 and things that
do not help you with this trick. But you will have learned some interesting
Have fun and keep working at it. Because if you work at it long enough and
have patience, the skating gods will visit you with a lovely "Aha!" and all
the pain and suffering will instantly be forgotten.
(adapted from "What I get from skating", by Janet Swan-Hill)
Peace --- the intense feeling of inner stillness that comes from fully
concentrating all of the body and mind on something
Excitement --- the rush of excitement before, during, and after performance.
Also the excitement of FINALLY having something go right after you've been
working at it a long time
Solitude --- the privacy of concentration, especially during patch or while
working on dance footwork, but also on any other aspect of skating.
Companionship & camaraderie ---
- the special connection you have to other adults working to succeed at
something purely for the pleasure of it
- the special comradeship of watching each other's progress, sweating out
test results, etc. with other skaters .... no matter what their age, gender,
- the "teamness" of working on a precision team, the process and results of
working hard as a group, compromising, analyzing, helping each other,
figuring things out, sharing the success and the blame among you, "pulling
off" a move that seemed impossible just four weeks earlier
- encountering and getting to know a group of people I would never otherwise
Exercise --- Of all the types of exercise I have ever done, only this and
skiing didn't feel like exercise.
Body awareness --- becoming aware of where the bits and pieces are and what
happens when you move them (and how to keep from moving them if you don't
Sanity --- I can't really think about anything but skating while I'm
skating, so it provides a wonderful breather in the middle of the day
Perspective --- skating puts my work into perspective. work puts skating
Flying --- the wonderful frictionless sensation of flying (not just during
jumps ..... maybe MAINLY not in jumps)
Goals --- a never-ending supply of goals to work toward: a growing list of
goals reached. they don't even have to be big things:
Facing up to fear --- working at something that scares you until finally one
day you realize that you are doing the move without even thinking about it.
Also doing something that scares you even though it's still scary, and
realizing that you CAN do it and you WILL.
An appreciation of what goes into skating:
- a greater appreciation of the skaters themselves and what they do
- an astonished and continuing appreciation of the thousands of volunteers
who make the organized sport of figure skating possible: judges,
accountants, ice monitors, organizing committees, costume crews,
fundraisers, music crews, registration people, the mothers who braid hair
and patch up each other's children, the "rink moms" who play tapes during
sessions, and many, many more.
An opportunity to serve and be useful --- knowing how badly you are needed,
because skating IS run by volunteers, most of whom also have jobs and
families that make volunteering difficult.
A (moderately) harmless obsession-cum-addiction.
3.6 Skating programs for adults
Some time ago the US Figure Skating acknowledged the special needs from its
ever increasing adult membership and created an Adult Skating Committee; US
Figure Skating adult skaters also have an independent test track comprising
freestyle and MITF tests as well as separate Sectional and National Figure
Skating Championships for adults.
Skate Canada is also implementing a recreational and competition program for
3.6.1 US Figure Skating adult testing track
The adult testing track comprised four freestyle testing levels and, from
September 2002, corresponding MITF levels.The levels are: Adult Pre-bronze,
Bronze, Silver and Gold As in the regular track, the MITF test must be
passed before taking the corresponding freestyle test.
The freestyle tests consist in a program done to music (except for the
Pre-bronze test). The required elements for each level are listed in
3.6.2 Skating competitions for adults
In addition to competitions with "adult" categories, competitions (national
or international) open only to adults are held in USA, Canada, Estonia,
Great Britain, Germany and France. Since 2005, the ISU is also sponsoring an
international adult competition; the 2005 and 2006 editions took place in
Oberstdorf, in the German Alps.
International adult competitions often use the US Figure Skating test level
and age categories. The categories for freestyle are shown below.
Category divisions by level
Level Element restrictions Program length
Bronze No Axel, no jump spins. 1 min 40 sec
Silver No double jumps 2 min 10 sec
Gold No triple jumps and no double flip and Lutz 2 min 40 sec.
Masters * No restrictions 3 min. 40 sec
* Skaters who have tested to a higher level than the adult Gold equivalent
on a standard track must compete in the "Masters" level
Category divisions by age
Young adults I II III IV V
18 - 20 21 - 28 29 - 35 36 - 45 46 - 55 56 and above
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