Can a figure skating coach have a student who is skating Freestyle 2 compete in Basic 6?
First a disclaimer: Ice Girl was one of these kids. It wasn’t because we were trying to wipe out the competition, though: that kid just wouldn’t get off the ice. I put her on every open skate in Dane County for six months partly because she was begging me to do so and partly because I had a demanding job and could work on projects from the various rinks. She jumped from a Basic 3 in November 2007 to a Freestyle 3 in May 2008. That’s six levels in six months. (Me, I jumped from a miserable, demanding job to one I really love.) The problem we had was that we’d sign Ice Girl up for a Basic Skills competition after she’d finished, say Basic 6, but she was way ahead of that level by the time the competition day arrived. I swear: we were not trying to cheat the system.
A coach I know offered some possibilities about why kids might be higher or lower levels for Basic Skills competitions.
- The skater signs up at her current level, but by the time the competition has arrived, the skater is way above that level (see disclaimer above).
- Some Learn to Skate programs are very picky about passing kids up from one level to the next; others pass kids when they demonstrate skills, but the skills are still shaky. Here’s an example: a Basic 4 kid can do crossovers, but she’s unreliable with them. The instructor passes her into Basic 5, but the skill isn’t good enough to go into a program.
- A coach keeps a kid at a certain level for a while to build the kid’s self-esteem and smear the competition.
I learned something about Basic Skills the other week: losing is just as important as winning.
Sure, we all want our kids to win, especially when they put in hard work and we feel they deserve it. Ice Girl won second place two weeks ago at a little Basic Skills competition. Her jumps and spins were more difficult than those of the first-place skater. And the first place skater was a brat (see my poor sport post).
My mom and I were not good skating parents. We grumbled quietly to ourselves and asked Ice Coach how this sort of thing could happen. Ice Coach said a few words, but it was clear she wasn’t taking it well, either. It was like she was keeping her mouth shut for fear of what might come out of it.
You know who took the second place ribbon well? Ice Girl. She smiled and acted like a champion. She was proud of the second place and beamed in the photos. I feel ashamed of my petty behavior.
That’s what Basic Skills is all about. Sure the skating is important and we all want fairness. But that’s not the point.
Character. That’s the point. Trying hard and accepting the judges’ decision with pride and class. Congratulating fellow skaters. Being happy no matter what the outcome. Skating for the love of it, not the hardware.
Ice Girl has learned this important lesson. I’m sure I’ll learn it someday, too.