On this page we will try to address most of the questions you might have about skating competitions and hopefully get you fired up to participate in competitions and other skating events in your area.
There are several types of competitions offered within the US Figure Skating Association. Competitions are hosted or sponsored by a specific figure skating club or school. On any given weekend, you could probably find a competition going on somewhere in the country!
There are a variety of events offered at each competition, so there are usually multiple ways a skater can compete. Events can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Free skate program – This is what people traditionally associate with skating. A program skated to music containing a variety of jumps, spins, footwork or other elements
- Compulsories – A program without music where each competitor is required to execute the same required elements. Depending on level, may only be skating on half the sheet of ice.
- Skills events (jumps, spins, footwork, etc) – An event to demonstrate skill in a particular element, usually with minimal connecting movements or choreography. Each skater is usually required to execute the same elements. Some jump competitions may allow the element to be skated twice and the best attempt judged.
- Showcase and Theater on Ice events – An program performed to music, which may include props or costumes, where the focus is on entertainment, theatrical interpretation, portraying a story, a character, or an emotion. May be sub-divided into categories for light or dramatic, solos, duets, or ensemble numbers.
- Pattern Dance – A set pattern of steps meant to portray a specific ballroom dance such as a Waltz, Cha-Cha, or Tango
- Synchro – A team event where a group of skaters demonstrates various coordinated skating skills in a program, such as unison skating or forming shapes and lines together.
Besides test level, events can be divided into smaller groups or combined based on age groups and gender. Adults are not combined in events with
younger skaters except occasionally in dance or showcase.
Basic Skills Competition
This is usually the first type of competition a skater ever participates in. The events offered are generally only for the beginning levels of skating.
This is a competition that can offer events all the way through the highest test levels. Placements in events apply only to that competition. Often times a club will offer a basic skills and a non-qualifying competition at the same time.
These are the competitions a skater must participate in to get to the National Championships. Skaters move progressively through each round by placing high enough to advance to the next competition. The US is divided into Sections and then further subdivided into Regions. Competitors must compete in the region and section of their home club.
Map of Regions and Sections for US Figure Skating
Regionals – Oct/Nov
Sectionals – Nov/Dec
Nationals – Jan
Here’s some additional helpful information from US Figure Skating for first time competitors.
USFS Competition Prep Guide
Whatever happened to 6.0?
Coming soon: discussion of 6.0 vs IJS system
WHY SHOULD I PARTICIPATE IN A BASIC SKILLS COMPETITION?
First of all, it’s FUN! It is a chance to show all you have learned and a chance to advance through higher skating levels. There are events for the most basic levels, such as SNOW PLOW SAM up through the Pre-Preliminary and Preliminary test levels.
WHAT IS A COMPETITION ANNOUNCEMENT AND HOW DO I GET ONE?
The Announcement is a document that contains all of the rules of competition required by the UNITED STATES FIGURE SKATING organization and sets forth which events are offered at each skating level. The skating components/elements listed within each event must be contained within the skater’s program at competition. Check the announcement for rules including eligibility, music, use of props, time limits, as well as registration deadlines and practice ice information. Coaches will have copies of the announcement at the rink and it will be posted on the club website.
WHAT EVENTS SHOULD MY SKATER PARTICIPATE IN?
Coaches will help you make that decision. You can enter as many events as you are eligible. This can include skills events like jumps or spins, compulsories (programs of required moves without music), artistic, or freeskate events. Entering multiple events often helps skaters get used to the nerves of competing. It offers them several opportunities to get out there before the judges and go through their routines. Local Basic Skills competitions like Spooktacular in October and Spring Spectacular in May are also good events to lead up to larger events such as Sooner State Games and State Games of America.
HOW DO I ENTER THE COMPETITION AND SIGN UP FOR COMPETITION PRACTICE ICE TIME?
Registration is done exclusively through the online system EntryEeze; there is no manual paper option. This has become the standard for most competitions around the country. The link should be in the announcement and on the website. Your coach can guide you in selecting the correct events to register for.
Pre-paid Practice Ice can also be purchased through the same system. If room is still available on practice session the day of competition, skaters can walk on for an extra charge payable at the rink before the skater gets on the practice ice session.
HOW DO I GET A COMPETITION DRESS OR COSTUME AND MUSIC?
First, talk with your coach about what kind of program to do. They will have recommendations for types of music or even specific song selections to choose from. Once parent, skater, and coach agree on the program, the music usually will need to be cut to fit the time allowed. Coaches will often do this themselves for a small fee, or you can ask around at the rink for other people who like to do this. If you feel ambitious and want to try this yourself, popular low-cost or free music editing tools include GoldWave, CoolEdit, or Audacity.
Once the music is selected, talk with the coach about what they think the skater should wear that fits with the program. There are many options for finding clothing. Some of these include the consignment shop run by the Hudsons at our rink, borrowing from other skaters, eBay, online retailers, dance suppliers, and local seamstresses. Online options can range from used sales, new standardized “stock” dresses, and fully custom made dresses. Dresses may come with or without sparkle (rhinestones, sequins, crystals, glitter, etc). Custom purchases usually involve sending several measurements to the vendor and then they will make the dress according to your specifications. Usually allow several weeks for custom dresses.
Many people choose to purchase and apply crystals themselves. This is also known as “stoning a dress”. The best stones to use are Swarovski flat-back crystals. Crystals can be purchased in small quantities from many craft stores, but the best rates and selections are usually online. The Tami’s Place shop on eBay offers a wide selection of shapes, colors, and sizes to order. Crystals are often sold in a “gross”, which just means a quantity of 144.
Beware, stoning can be a time consuming and tedious process. We highly recommend also purchasing some applicator syringes, E6000 adhesive, and wax tip pencils to speed the process. A glass of your favorite beverage can help pass the time too.
Sometimes a used dress, or even a new stock dress, doesn’t fit quite right. If that happens, use a local seamstress to alter it. Or if you just want to have something made from scratch where you can talk directly with the person making the garment and be able to try it on before it is finished. If you need names of specific local people, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and she can pass along several options.
Ask any local skater, parent, or board member for more tips on finding outfits, seamstresses, supplies; there are lots of options and they are happy to share their wisdom.
DAY OF COMPETITON
HOW MANY COPIES OF MY MUSIC DO I NEED AND WHO DO I GIVE IT TO?
At least 3 CD’s per event in which your program requires music is recommend. Events with music usually include freeskate, showcase/artistic, dance, theater and synchro. It is the skater’s responsibility (NOT the coach’s responsibility) to have enough copies of the music for both practice ice and competition and to make sure each copy plays. One copy of the music for each event is required for skater registration, an additional copy for practice and a third back up copy.
Turn music in for competition at Registration Desk and turn a DIFFERENT copy in for Practice at Practice Ice Desk. All music will be available for pick up at the registration desk at the conclusion of the event. LABEL ALL CD’s with SKATER NAME and EVENT ie “Jane Doe, Freeskate 6- freeskate” or “showcase/artistic.” If you also put your coach’s name on the music CD label, we can return the music to the coach in the event you forget to pick it up. Otherwise, competition committee is not responsible for music CD’s left at the end of competition.
WHEN DO I NEED TO BE AT THE RINK FOR PRACTICE AND COMPETITION?
Rule of thumb is 30-60 minutes in advance of practice or your competition event. This allows time for skaters to warm up and stretch and to fix any last minute costume or hair issues. Competition schedules will be posted on Tulsa FSC website and at the rink after the close of entries. However, competition events are not always on time-and the coaches will keep track of the event schedule and will inform their skaters. If the event runs early, for example, when the event is announced, the competition event proceeds and the skater is expected to be ready to take the ice.
WHERE DO I GO ONCE I GET TO THE RINK?
For Practice, go to Practice Ice Desk and turn in music. Music is played in order received. For competition, go to assigned Locker rooms. DO NOT LEAVE SKATING BAGS IN THE LOBBY. They need to go to Locker rooms for safety and security reasons.
WHERE DO I GET RESULTS AFTER I COMPETE IN MY EVENT(S)?
Competition Results will be posted on the wall behind the bleachers.
WHERE DO I GET MEDALS, PHOTOS, OR VIDEO?
There will be an awards room where medals/ribbons are awarded and a photo taken on podiums for each event Award photos and Action shots of all skaters will be available for purchase as well and are a great keepsake. No matter what place a skater is awarded, good sportsmanship is encouraged. Immediately after your results are posted, skaters should immediately proceed to the awards room to get your medal/ribbon and photo made. Parents are not allowed to take photos or video with personal cameras or cell phones during skating events or in the awards room.
HOW DOES JUDGING WORK?
Events are judged by a panel of 3-5 officials using a 6.0 scale as set forth by US Figure Skating. Judges must be either appointed judges of US Figure Skating certified to judge the Pre-Preliminary and Preliminary levels or members of USFS over the age of 18 to judge Basic Skills categories. Skaters are ranked in order of highest score to lowest. Skater performances are evaluated on many factors, including but not limited to general skating skill, presentation, and meeting the specific event requirements as laid out in the competition announcement.