Skating Resources 

U.S. Figure Skating SkateSafe Program

U.S. Figure Skating strives to provide a safe environment for its members that is free of misconduct and harassment. The association will not tolerate or condone any form of harassment or misconduct of any of its members including athletes, coaches, officials, directors, employees, parents, volunteers or any other persons while they are participating in or preparing for a figure skating activity or event conducted under the auspices of U.S. Figure Skating. All forms of misconduct are unacceptable and in direct conflict with U.S. Figure Skating rules.

As a member of USFS, the Copper Country Skating Academy and all its members embraces the SkateSafe principles and strives to provide the safest environment we can to promote figure skating among all skaters.  This includes USFS SkateSafe training for backstage volunteers, in addition to that required for all of its board members and coaches. 

Our SkateSafe representative is board member. Jessica Comfort

All individuals, regardless of membership with U.S. Figure Skating, are encouraged to report suspected violations of SkateSafe. To make a report, email or 719-635-5200.

Text in this section was copied from the USFS SkateSafe web site. 

General Resources

Educational Resources

Sherry Karnosky, Pro-Liason and CCSA Coach has written several articles covering some frequently asked questions about the world of figure skating.  We form the basis upon which we are developing the clubs educational resources.

101 Introduction to Figure Skating

Your are interested in figure skating, I am sure you have many questions. How do I  start? When am I ready? What equipment is needed? Who teaches? How much will it cost?  When I started Basic Skills 30 years ago, I had the same questions you probably have right now. Lucky for me, I found a great teacher and followed her advice. So, here are my answers and suggestions.

What Is Figure Skating?

Figure skating is a sport of many disciplines. Learning these disciplines, skaters build individual skills and then use those skills to test, compete, or work with partners or as a team. The three core skating disciplines taught by CCSA’s Teaching Professionals are:

Moves in the Field - basic turns, edges, footwork skated in patterns using the full ice surface, arranged in eight ascending difficulty levels from Pre Preliminary through Senior (Gold).

Freestyle - jumps, spins, footwork, spirals, worked into musical programs using the full ice surface, arranged in eight ascending levels of difficulty, Pre Preliminary through Senior (Gold).

Dance - patterns of steps and turns set to music of a particular type (waltz, tango, foxtrot, etc.) skated with a partner, and sometimes as a solo, using the full ice surface, arranged in eight ascending levels of difficulty from Preliminary to Gold and International.

CCSA and its coaching staff offer skaters the chance to test their skills in these three interdependent disciplines before panels of United States Figure Skating-certified judges each season. Testing allows skaters here to match their skills against a national standard upheld by the certified judging panel.

In addition, CCSA offers skaters the choice to join with others at similar test levels to compete as a Synchronized Team. Synchro teams range from 8-10 skaters to 20-25, and, as the name implies, the team moves across the full ice surface as one to music of its choice.

When Should I Start My Child in Figure Skating?

Depends on the child! The key to knowing when children can start figure skating using the full ice surface is their interest in learning more than Basic Skills (Learn to Skate) teaches. I’d suggest placing them in CCSA’s “transition” groups at Basic 4 or 5. Try that for a season. If their interest persists and grows, move them to individual instruction with a CCSA coach.

What Does My Child Need to Start?

Skaters need three building blocks to start skating: time on the ice, individual instruction, and properly fitted, well-supported boots with an appropriate blade. However, there is no shortcut to learning a physical skill, so skaters’ commitment to practicing is also essential for them to progress in the sport. Behind all of these lies parental support and involvement.

How Much Ice Time Does My Child Need?

As a coach with 30 skating, and 15 teaching years behind me, I recommend skaters get on the ice a minimum of three times/week to maximize the repetition of skills learned and minimize the learning lost if an activity is not done regularly! Skaters need to skate as often as they can and take individual lessons on each session.

The ratio of lesson to practice is the same as with most learning activities, 1 to 2. For every 15-minute lesson, skaters should have 30 minutes to practice. This is the most efficient way to make progress.

Figure skating, because of its speed, and the intricacy of its movements, depends on building “muscle memory” through constant practice and repetition. It takes time, effort, good teaching, and quality practice to develop muscle memory but having it builds skaters’ confidence, performance ability, and enjoyment.

Who Will Teach My Skater?

This is the single most important decision parents make as their child begins skating. Look carefully at the coaches’ resumes to help identify who may best serve your child’s needs. All CCSA’s coaches are qualified to teach beginners. They differ in age, experience, education, teaching style, and cost. No sheet of paper tells the full story of a coach, but resumes give bases for comparison.

Teaching style and communication skills can make all the difference in the skater/teacher relationship. Look for a coach who listens carefully to you and your child, answers your questions thoughtfully, and keeps you in the “loop” of your child’s progress.

The decision is yours to make but I feel it is best to choose to work with just one coach at this stage of your child’s development; later your child may wish to work with others to develop or hone more specialized skills.

What is Appropriate Equipment?

Seek advice from a teaching professional before purchasing skates but keep in mind that fit and support appropriate to the skater’s age/weight are the first considerations. Boots should fit the foot closely with no more than a thumb’s length of extra space in the toe and use only the thinnest of socks or skating tights for skating. A beginner’s blade may have small, recreational picks, but once launched into figure skating, skaters need those nasty-looking big picks for jumping and spinning.

To judge the support of a boot, crush it to one side from its top. If it creases easily around the ankle, it won’t provide enough support. However, it must crease somewhat to enable the ankle to bend. Skaters’ ages, weight, and levels of development determine the support they need. Used skates work for beginners if they fit properly as described above, and have appropriate blades.

Ice Time, Coach, Skates, What’s Next?

Quality, self-directed practice! I’ve already mentioned the 1/2 ratio of lesson time/practice as being the most efficient formula for progressing in skating. If you want to add additional lessons to your child’s schedule, I suggest purchasing a punch card, checking with your child’s coach, and putting your child on the ice for extra sessions especially before tests. Or, you could try purchasing an additional session for the season’s second half and arranging extra lessons with your child’s coach!

Practice time should be as self-directed as the child is capable of making it, but each session at this point in your child’s development should contain a lesson so she has something to concentrate on during practice time.

How Much Parental Commitment Is Needed?

This is a very good question. Children need to know their parents support them. They appreciate their parents’ presence at activities, so please come to see your children skate often. Watch their lessons and note their progress. Share their joy when a new jump lands or a first spiral holds without wobbling. Commiserate with them the first time they try to dance with a partner and discover how much more difficult it is to skate “their” dance with a warm body next to them! Occasionally grab some exercise doing laps around the rink but keep your eyes open so you can talk to your skater on the way home.

Make time to serve as a Music Monitor who takes attendance and plays music for all the skaters. CCSA asks families to volunteer 15 hours/season and being a Music Monitor eats up volunteer time yet keeps parents right at ice level where they can see their own skaters! Plan to help with the Ice Show, and/or with Turkey Trot as your child steps into her first competition. Volunteer to collect test forms for the Accounting room the day your skater takes her first test. There are so many CCSA activities for volunteers. Each one keeps you in the same building connected to the same activity as your child!

How Much Does Skating Really Cost?

Always the “Big Question”, but start your calculations with ice time at approximately $210/session multiplied by the three sessions/week I recommended. Remember, the cost of CCSA’s ice time is partially subsidized for everyone each season from the proceeds of both the Turkey Trot competition and the spring Ice Show so helping make them successful keeps everyone’s costs down.

Add in three lessons/week, as I recommended, at the rate charged by your child’s coach then multiply by the total number of weeks in the season (about 20).

Figure in the fee to take one test/test session, or three tests/year ($35-$60 each at the lower levels of testing). Add in the annual USFS fee (about $40) and CCSA’s membership fee ($25) due by June 30th and you’ve got the major expenses covered except for equipment and dresses.

In the beginning, new skates of appropriate quality may be just under $200 and skaters will need new ones every other year, at least. In Houghton, Center Ice carries sets (boots with blades) made by Jackson of reasonable quality for beginning skaters in the $200 range. Later, more specialized blades alone will run $200 and boots for advanced skaters run more than that.

Dresses, sweaters, and warm-up clothes can be purchased from catalogs, online, or ordered from parents who design and make one-of-a-kind to order. The CCSA consignment shop has a large collection of used dresses and some sweaters. Proceeds support the Synchro program. Contact Kristin Lufkin (906-482-1182) to visit her home and check out dresses in your skater’s size.

How Valuable Is Summer School to My Skater?

Last question for now! If all the rest of this synopsis of Intro to Figure Skating 101 were a Master Card commercial, Summer Skating Schools would come at the end with the word, “Priceless”!

Sherry Karnosky, CCSA Pro Liaison

Spring 2008

102 Figure Skating Equipment

Some time ago I wrote “Figure Skating 101” for the CCSA Newsletter and website to speak to parents and skaters about some of the basics of figure skating. I spoke about ice time, teaching professionals, lessons, equipment, and the support and encouragement skaters needed to progress in this sport. Since I wrote that, I’d promised to continue offering advice to newcomers and returnees alike, answering questions and addressing concerns.

The Basics of Blades:

Figure skates consist of a steel blade attached to a leather supportive boot.

The figure skating blade has several “picks” at its front whose purpose is to anchor spins or assist skaters propelling themselves into jumps. The picks are never used for stopping.

Blades have both an “outside” and “inside” edge that must be sharpened by a specialist before the blades are used for the first time and a “hollow” between the two edges that may be adjusted during the sharpening process for a particular purpose (dance, freestyle, or combination of both).

Blades need a fresh sharpening periodically depending on how often the skater uses them. The period between sharpening can range from 1 month to 3, or even 6 months depending on the frequency of use. If the blade seems to feel as if it is slipping or sliding under the skater and he/she experiences difficulty staying balanced over the blade, it needs sharpening. Always sharpen both blades at the same time even if only one is giving the skater problems.

Walking Around The Rink With Your Skates On:

Blades need to be protected from damage as stepping on any kind of metal or other hard surfaces can strip the sharpening away from the blade on contact. They must also be protected from rust that forms naturally if blades are not wiped down and stored properly between uses.

Hard rubber or plastic “guards” are placed over blades before and after skating to protect the blades while skaters walk on the hard surfaces from their locker rooms or benches to and from the ice surface before and after skating. These guards must be removed as the skater steps onto the ice surface and stored temporarily on the “boards” near the skaters’ entrance to the ice. They should be picked up after skating and placed on the blade as soon as the skater leaves the ice surface and should remain on the blades until the skater removes his/her skates for the trip home. Do not leave the hard rubber or plastic guards on the blades after wiping them down with a soft cloth after each use.

Off-Ice Skate Storage:

Speaking of a soft cloth, “soakers” (made from soft cloth) should be placed on the blades after the skater carefully removes the skates from his/her feet and wipes the blades down to absorb the moisture from the ice surface that accumulates on the blades while skating. Blades should always be stored in these soft-cloth soakers between uses and bags should be left slightly opened, rather than sealed up tight, to allow air circulation around both boots and blades.

103 What is Testing?

Every year, the club invites a dance partner and three USFS-certified judges who judge all tests in Moves and Freestyle, and Dance. This enables nearly all area skaters to test if they are ready to.  But what exactly is testing? Does every skater test? Why is one’s testing level important? Who does the judging? What is the standard needed to pass? What happens if a skater receives a result of “Retry” instead of a result of “Pass”? Do skaters receive recognition for passing tests?

First, testing is an activity sanctioned by United States Figure Skating, the national governing body of figure skating in our country. Skaters may test at their appropriate level in all disciplines: Moves in the Field, Dance, Freeskating, Pairs, or Free Dance. All tests for all disciplines start at the Pre Preliminary Level (Moves and Freeskating), the Preliminary Level (Dance, Pairs) or Juvenile level (Free Dance). No Freeskating or Pairs test may be taken until skaters pass the same level’s Moves in the Field test and Free Dance tests are governed by the rules of the corresponding compulsory dance test.

Skaters advance up the ladders of their chosen disciplines as they pass each test from Pre Preliminary, Preliminary, or Juvenile (Free Dance only) to the Senior or Gold level. CCSA Gold Test Medalists’ names appear on a plaque in the rink along with the year they earned their Gold Medals and the appropriate disciplines. Be sure to look for this plaque in the trophy area adjacent to the rink.

Does everyone test? Good question. To pursue figure skating as a sport skaters do not have to test. But most skaters choose to test, and test as often as they are thought to be “ready” for a test by their Teaching Professional.

Why are skaters’ test levels important? Skaters work hard for each dance, jump, spin, or Moves in the Field pattern they “master”. Presenting “tests” before a panel of USFS-certified judges and receiving marks of a passing level from the majority rewards all the time and effort skaters put into their sport. Knowing they’ve mastered a level of a discipline helps skaters build the confidence they need to continue progressing.

Each test passed helps skaters develop their abilities and knowledge in the sport. They use techniques and abilities learned in one discipline to help them master the next test in that discipline’s test ladder, or apply what they learned to the other disciplines. All disciplines’ test ladders are designed to work together in developing skaters’ abilities and transferring techniques from one discipline to the others.

If skaters wish to compete at nonqualifying events like Turkey Trot (CCSA’s November competition) or the Ron Carlson Marquette International Open (Marquette FSC’s February competition), and/or in the Michigan High School District and State Championship competitions, they must do so according to the levels they have tested and passed. For first timers, all nonqualifying competitions have events labeled “Beginner” for those skaters who have not yet tested in a discipline.

Passing Moves in the Field test levels is also required of synchro team members beyond the beginning levels of that discipline.

If skaters wish to pursue a berth in a qualifying competition, they will do so at their achieved testing level and compete against the very best in their Region for a chance to continue on to Sectionals and Nationals. Former CCSA skaters Elinor Elchert and Jane Summersett, who appeared in last year’s Ice Show, pursued Regional, Sectional, and National berths at qualifying competitions. Kristen Roth, who taught CCSA skaters for the past six years while a Michigan Tech student, was a National Pairs Champion at the Novice level with her partner.

Who does the judging and what is the standard needed to “pass”? USFS, the national governing body of the sport, certifies all test and competition judges American testers and competitors will come in contact with including certain Canadian judges who have also met USFS requirements. Judges undergo a rigorous education program in the rules of the sport, passing a certification test on all new rules each year. They apply to the USFS Judging Committee for approval to start the process of becoming a judge, and, after a study period of months or years of matching their “results” alongside the actual results of tests they have “trial judged”, they can apply for a judging appointment. Once that appointment is granted the new judge must actively judge at the level he/she is appointed to and continue studying and often “trialing” to become qualified at additional levels or in other disciplines. CCSA and its predecessor, Portage Lake FSC, have produced three “home-grown” judges over the past 26 years: most recently, Meghan Hayden who currently judges, Catherine Horsch Burns, now the coach of CCSA’s High School teams, and I who was appointed a dance judge in 1988.

The standard needed to pass any test at any level is outlined in the current rulebook. The standard consists of a written description of what needs to be done to pass a test as well as the “passing average”, a number that represents that standard on a 0.0-6.0 scale. Judging panels for tests may consist of one judge at the Pre Preliminary, Preliminary, and Pre Bronze levels. All other test levels require three USFS-certified judges. Judges interpret the standard to determine a test’s result. The result consists of a word, “Pass” or “Retry”, and a number for all tests above the Pre Preliminary and Preliminary Moves and Freeskating levels and the Preliminary Dance and Pairs level.

Receiving a result of “Pass” on a given test enables skaters to “move up” to the next level in a given discipline and to take the corresponding Freeskating test once they’ve passed a particular level’s Moves in the Field test. Receiving a result of “Retry” on a test requires the skater to present the same test again. Skaters may retry the same test on the 27th day after receiving a result of “Retry”.

To recognize skaters’ test accomplishments, CCSA sends out congratulations and a listing of all skaters and the tests they’ve passed after each testing session is completed. These same results are posted, eventually, in SKATING the official magazine of USFS. USFS issues a certificate for each passed test and CCSA hands these certificates out at each year’s concluding banquet. USFS also offers pins, medals, and bars for purchase after each test is passed and I will send out an email asking CCSA members if they wish to purchase these after the February Test Session. CCSA purchases all Gold Test Medals earned by CCSA skaters and presents those medals at the annual spring banquet.

Work hard, skaters, get those tests ready for the judges! They’ll be here soon. Will you be ready

Sherry Karnosky
CCSA Pro Liaison
Winter 2010

104 What to Do in The Summer?

With the school year almost gone, skating season ended two months ago, what can skaters do with skating during the summer?  An excellent question! Read on for suggestions!  The more experienced skaters and their parents started making plans in March/April for skating summer schools in Eagle River, Wisconsin (June) Minocqua, Wisconsin in July, and Michigan Tech in August.

Most probably want to try completing the set of Moves in the Field they’re currently working on before the additions and changes to the Moves Test Schedule take effect on September 1st. They also want to assure themselves of the availability of professional dance partners who will teach at these schools knowing the skill and experience of their partner becomes more important as they move up the dance test schedule.

The MTU Summer Skating School, held at the SDC in August each year, will be directed this summer by Meghan Hayden who has assured CCSA that it will run from Monday August 16th through Friday August 20th with testing on Saturday August 21st. Each CCSA skater and MTU Learn to Skater should receive a brochure for the school and it is important that skaters fill these application sheets out as soon as they can and return them to the SDC if they plan to participate. The concentrated ice time and instruction received in this 5-day period can be worth more than weeks of skating during the season!

It is always a good idea to seek help from any of CCSA’s teaching professionals regarding sessions skaters should skate during the week of skating school. A teaching professional can assist skaters and parents in setting and clarifying goals. These goals dictate how many lessons to request. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Regardless of where skaters decide to do their summer “school” skating, many will also take advantage of the summer skating sessions CCSA offers at the SDC on Fridays. These sessions will begin on June 25th if enough skaters commit to them by purchasing “packages” of ice time in groups of 4 skating sessions for $50. CCSA will hold two sessions each Friday all summer beginning at 5:30 pm (when the hockey school ends each week) and finishing at 7:20 pm. Skaters may choose to skate one or both of these sessions each Friday. Each session skated will use up one of the four sessions a skater purchased in his/her “package”. Of course, skaters may purchase more than one “package”, but each one purchased entitles the skater to skate four separate sessions and to use those sessions on the Fridays of their choice.

At present, some of CCSA’s teaching professionals plan to teach on some of the Friday sessions. Like skaters, the teaching professionals will be out of town on some of the evenings, so it is important for skaters to contact one or more of them NOW if they want a lesson on one of these sessions and to tell that teaching professional if they plan to skate the earlier or later session, or both. Make arrangements for lessons ahead of time and take the ice at its scheduled starting time: Session 1 5:30-6:25, Session 2 6:25-7:20 pm.

Skaters who want to “put their feet on the ice” a bit more often than just one or more Fridays here at the SDC can always arrange with any of the 3 schools listed above to go to the rink in Eagle River, Minocqua, or Marquette, or anywhere they may be traveling, and skate a session or two on a drop-in basis. Check websites for info on sessions and contact info for arranging lessons. Also, Synchro Coach Michelle King plans to hold two “evaluation” sessions in July so anyone thinking of skating synchro next season would be wise to get some ice time before stepping on ice for those evaluations.

Remember to keep active during summer with lots of conditioning play or exercise like riding bikes, swimming, rollerblading, basketball, soccer, volleyball and get lots of sunshine! Skating skills and overall health benefit from all of these.

So, get CCSA Summer Ice package forms from the website and mail them to CCSA Registrar Carrie Lentowich so she’ll know if enough skaters plan to use the Friday sessions. Contact CCSA teaching pros for lessons and any help you need with MTU Skating School brochures as soon as you can and get ready for fun with skating this summer!

Summer is also an excellent time to purchase new or nearly new used skates if a skater’s current skates now feel “cramped” and uncomfortable. Depending on yearly growth, skaters may need a full-size or size-and-a-half-larger skate for the upcoming season. Fit is critical and the salespeople at Center Ice in Houghton can help parents determine which length and width their skater needs. (Remember that a properly fitted skate boot has no more than one thumbnail’s length of “growing space” in its toe.) Skates can be ordered at the store or online, or parents can put a note on the CCSA link asking if anyone has a good used skate in their skater’s size. It never hurts to find out what the options are.

Another consideration to keep in mind when purchasing skates is the quality of the blade if it is sold with a boot as a “set” already put together. Examine the blade in the “set” being considered closely. It should have slightly larger picks on the top and bottom of the toe pick area. Skaters use the larger picks for jumping and spinning. All skaters need a full set of picks on their blades! Otherwise toe-assisted jumps are more difficult to learn and spins don’t center as easily. Remember to wipe all blades down with a soft cloth when leaving the ice and store them between uses in cloth soakers to protect the sharpening. Blades should be sharpened regularly; most probably need sharpening after the heavy use of tests and shows at the end of a season. Get that done now before the ice goes up for summer.

The remaining major consideration in purchasing new or used skates after size and blade design is support for skaters’ ankles. Skate boots should be made of quality leather; it’s okay if the boots have lighter-weight heels made of plastic but the boot must be quality leather. The boots must have sufficient support for the skater’s weight so that they crease neatly but don’t “crumple” at the ankle. Boots should be laced firmly in place from the toe of the boot to the ankle and then a little more loosely across the ankle and up the leg to allow ankle flexibility so necessary for good skating balance and posture. Always consult the skater’s teaching professional for help with tough decisions on new or nearly new used skates.

Once the boots/blades/skates have been purchased they will take time for skaters to “break in”. This is where the Friday CCSA sessions or a day spent at the camp in Eagle River, Marquette, or Minocqua can come in very handy! Don’t hesitate to drive to one of these destinations to get skaters a bit more acclimated to their new skates than one can do by walking around home in guards or protective soakers. It is also possible to help mold skates to a skater’s particular fit by softening the interior lining with heated damp/wet cloths first before putting them on and walking around in the heated boot.

As always, feel free to call me at 523-4746 or shoot me an email at and I promise to get back to you if you have questions I can answer.

Sherry Karnosky
CCSA Pro Liaison
Spring 2010

105 Figure Skating Through The Year

January 2011 ice time is here! This seems a good time to talk about the activities events, and competitions CCSA skaters may choose to take part in throughout each year.  CCSA’s season begins each September on Registration night. Skaters choose skating times (called packages) and arrange private lessons with USFS registered coaches. Parents volunteer for committees (Ice Show, Turkey Trot) or activities like Ice Monitoring. Scheduled ice times usually start the following Sunday.

Once regular ice sessions begin skaters take private lessons or work with their Skate-UP instructors on the figure skating disciplines of Moves in the Field (patterns of edges and turns that produce power), Dance (patterns of edges and turns that transfer the rhythms of ballroom dance to the ice surface), and Freesstyle (jumps, spins, spirals, and footwork) that evolve into programs skated to music for tests, shows, and/or competitions. The Synchro team practices on its own ice times arranged to fit the schedules of its members and coaches each season.

Turkey Trot Weekend is the first major CCSA activity. It’s held in mid-November but preparation begins long before its November date. Turkey Trot has three parts: the first test session of the new season; a non-qualifying competition with categories of jumps or spins, and many levels of freestyle and dance; and a Michigan High School competition for high-school-age club skating teams. Nearly 100% of CCSA skaters participate in one or more of these.

December brings skaters the Christmas Recital, usually a week before the holiday break. This activity is more like a mini-show than a competition or test. Having fun with skating is its primary goal and CCSA encourages all skaters to take part! Skaters may choose their holiday music and work with coaches or other skaters. Punch and cookies after, make it something to look forward to!

January brings the Beginner Synchro team to its competition weekend in Fond du Lac. Just a couple of weeks ago, the team skated well and finished 2nd in its group of teams. Well done, Beginner Synchro skaters!

All too soon, February arrives and with it, the second test session of the year. Many skaters work the full season on the tests they present at this time. The third weekend of February is the usual date of the Marquette Figure Skating Club’s non-qualifying competition, MIO, just after CCSA’s test session. CCSA skaters have won this competition several times; check the trophy case for the exact years! Though not a CCSA-sponsored activity, it is open to all CCSA skaters and is preceded by a test session just as Turkey Trot is.

CCSA and MTU Learn to Skate’s Community Ice Show occupies the third weekend in March and practice for it usually begins the last week of February. During show practice times, no private lessons are given and all ice time is devoted to preparing for this full-club activity. CCSA encourages all skaters to take part because all profits are put towards keeping the price of regularly scheduled ice sessions affordable for its members.

The SDC’s ice surface is melted down by the start of April or after the hockey team is eliminated from playoff contention. CCSA offers Friday evening sessions once/week after the ice is put back up usually the third week of June. Synchro team tryouts are usually scheduled for summer weekends so look out for their announcements.

CCSA sponsors its third test session at the end of the MTU Summer Skating School. This year the school will be in late July. It will offer CCSA skaters, in the words of its director, the opportunity to work here at home with instructors they would otherwise have to travel to reach, instructors who may use different teaching styles and offer different experiences. It should be a great opportunity and I urge all CCSA skaters to take advantage of it. For those skaters who don’t mind traveling to get to the coaches of their choice, schools are held close by in June at Eagle River and July at Minocqua, both in Wisconsin 2-3 hours from the Houghton/Hancock area. Marquette FSC also offers several weeks of summer school ice and test sessions only 100 miles away.

Then, plan to come back and register with CCSA in September to begin a new year of learning and fun.

Sherry Karnosky
CCSA Pro Liaison
Winter 2011

106 Safety First For Good Skating

All this activity means every CCSA session becomes more crowded as skaters and their respective Teaching Pros work very hard to prepare. It is absolutely necessary that all skaters and Teaching Pros on each session cooperate to ensure every skater's safety and ability to adequately prepare to test, compete, and learn. So, who has the right of way?

To answer this very important question, CCSA set the following Priority Guidelines. It is everyone's responsibility on the ice to comply with the Guidelines to the best of their ability. None of us are perfect, no one "owns" the ice, and all of us must maintain a "head's up" attitude toward what we do and what happens around us when we skate.


Everyone should give way to Partnered dances, with or without music.
Couples actively partnering dances may not be able see other skaters on the ice to avoid collisions as they work with each other in partnering positions. Most dance tests require skaters to partner and no one can do this well without adequate practice.



Everyone, except those actively partnering at the time, give way to skaters whose music is being played. Those actively partnering do their best to place their dance patterns away from the pattern of the Dance or Freestyle program being played.
It is everyone's responsibility to watch for the person or people whose dance or program is playing and it is the responsibility of all Teaching Pros to help their skaters, and, sometimes, other skaters as well, understand where a program or a dance pattern is going to be on the ice and how to move or stay still to be out of its way.



Skaters in lessons with a Teaching Pro have priority on the ice when specific Dance or Freestyle program music is not being played and no one is actively partnering. All other skaters not in lessons should give way to those taking lessons with a Teaching Pro.

It is not always obvious to all skaters that another skater is in a lesson and practicing/learning something potentially dangerous. Teaching Pros carry responsibility for watching their students very carefully and warning their and/or other skaters of potential collisions.

Music Monitors and Dance or Freestyle Program Requests. CCSA Guidelines for priority of requests for music follow the above guidelines. The Music Monitor should play requested music in this order: Partner Requests first or before other requested music, Teaching Professional Requests second or before any Skater Requests, and Skater Requests third. If possible, the Music Monitor should use the microphone in the Music Box to announce all requested music before playing it to alert all skaters and Teaching Pros.

Skaters and Teaching Professionals should be polite and thoughtful on the ice as they work, practice, or teach, keep a "heads up" attitude toward what happens around them, and move or stay still as necessary to be out of the way of those with Priority according to these Guidelines. Skater Safety is everyone's job!

Sherry Karnosky
CCSA Pro Liaison

107 Concussion Awareness

Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can have long term mental and physical impacts. It is important that all those involved in skating are aware of the risk and able to recognize symptoms of concussion.

201 Judging Figure Skating

Talk to any skater or parent about skating, and, eventually, they’ll want to discuss judging. So, from the perspective of a former judge, current test coach, and skater who tested for 25 years, I’ve gathered some “scoop” for parents and skaters about the judging of skating tests.

First, some basic facts about judges:

The one, three, or more people facing testing or competing skaters most often are skaters themselves. Many still skate and some are former competitors.

Judges are volunteers and never receive compensation beyond reimbursement for their expenses while judging.

Judges spend months, even years, preparing to become a judge and continue to prepare intensely every time they move up to a higher level of test or competition judging. It takes real dedication to the sport and to skaters be a judge.

All USFS judges must maintain a level of judging activity that allows them to earn Continuing Education Units towards renewing their judging appointments every four years. They must judge or trial judge tests and/or competitions, attend sanctioned judging schools/seminars, and complete the Rules Review Worksheet.

In other words, judges must do the activity they’ve been appointed to do (judge), attend sanctioned schools/seminars regularly to stay current with the sport, and complete a review of the rules, usually focusing on new or changed ones, in order to continue to function as a USFS judge. It is their job to maintain the standards of skating as outlined in the USFS Rulebook.

Second, some basic facts about test standards:

All tests are scored on a scale that ranges from 0 “Not Skated” to 6.0, skating that is “Outstanding” in quality.

The points needed to pass tests are listed in the Rulebook for all levels of skating in all disciplines.

The standard of skating for each level of each discipline is defined in the Rulebook. I recommend reading the pertinent description before skaters take any test and rereading the standards often. Take any questions to the skater’s teaching professional(s) for clarification, if needed. Here are some samples.

The description of Pre Preliminary Moves, the first Moves test, reads, “The purpose of this test is to encourage skaters to learn the fundamentals of ice skating. No great deal of technical ability, carriage, or flow is expected. The candidate must show knowledge of the steps, fairly good edges and some evidence of good form.”

The written description of Pre Juvenile Free Skating, the third freestyle test says, “The fundamentals of free skating must be demonstrated, although not necessarily mastered. Good edges, flow, power, extension and posture are required for all of the elements of free skating (jumps, spins, as well as connecting moves). The program should utilize the ice surface and demonstrate some relationship with the music.”

Silver Dance, the fifth level of dance tests, is described as, “The candidate must give a performance that is, generally, good. Strong true edges, good rhythm, smooth turns, correct carriage and effortless flow are expected. Musical interpretation and unison should be moderately good. The this level is required only to observe the candidate’s knowledge of the steps and ability to keep time with the music.”

It’s easy to see from these descriptions that the level of performance expected by judges rises as the skater progresses up the test ladder in any discipline and the descriptions are fairly specific while allowing for interpretation on the part of judges as to which aspects of the standard they weigh more or less heavily when judging.

Another great source of knowledge about judges’ test expectations is found in the Professional Skaters Association booklets on Moves in the Field and Dance. These booklets contain helpful descriptions and guidelines for teaching the various tests and are wonderful aids to understanding judging for parents and skaters as well.

The points needed to pass tests correspond across disciplines. For example, the passing average in points is similar at the Intermediate level in Moves, Pairs, and Free Skating and fits with that needed to pass Pre Silver dances.


Behind these descriptions of skating from the Rulebook and manuals lies the expertise of the judges, their experience at judging these levels to the standard described, their interpretations and evaluations of that standard, and their wealth of knowledge of the sport.
Judges are individuals. They judge individually. There is no discussion among them until a test ends. They disagree with one another’s opinions of a particular test often and they make judgments that are different. That’s why passing a test requires a simple majority (2 out of 3) and not a unanimous decision as it once did.
The system isn’t perfect; I disagree with decisions judges make and will continue to do so as a teaching professional. But, over my 20 years of teaching I’ve often seen the wisdom of a particular decision on a test I’ve disagreed with come to fruition later in a skater’s testing career to the skater’s advantage. Conversely, I’ve seen skaters pass tests that really surprised me only to watch them struggle at the next levels they attempt.
Skating is life to many of us, but our lives do not depend on the outcome of one test or one competition in skating. Our future is always before us, never behind and our skating life is never dependent on a figure skating judge’s decision, except perhaps at the very highest levels of the sport.
It is up to us as skaters and parents to use judges’ decisions and test outcomes to become better at what we do in skating and let that enrich and inform our lives.

Sherry Karnosky
CCSA Pro Liaison
Fall 2011