Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Basic Skills Competition Figure Skating Levels

I was poking around in the Ice Mom Blog site statistics and found that someone typed in this question in a search engine:

Can a figure skating coach have a student who is skating Freestyle 2 compete in Basic 6?

Good question.

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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. A coach keeps a kid at a certain level for a while to build the kid’s self-esteem and smear the competition.
Now, I’m not saying that’s right or anything, I’m just offering an explanation about how it can occur.

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.


Anonymous said...

what level is ice girl at?

Ice Mom said...

She's pre-pre

melissa said...

Bravo, Ice Mom! Excellent post!

RedShamrock said...

Application timing and skill acquisition is certainly a contributing factor, especially in the winter when the kids have many more opportunities to skate.

That said, I see the complete skills X but complete on level X-2 happening all the time around here. It bugs me.

But... the lesson of winning, losing and participating in a judge sport is well said. Likely the most valuable I've seen G learn yet.

Ok, ok, after a recent event, I too needed the reminder of that lesson too.

Thanks I.M. and congrats to I.G. on the recent pre-pre events.

Angie said...

Great post! What I have learned is that sometimes you can skate what you think is your best skate and you place lower then you thought you might. Then, you think you didn't skate your best, only to place higher then you ever expected you would. This happened to my daughter last weekend. For the 1st time during competition, she fell. None of us(including my daughter!) thought she would place high because she fell. Daughter was OK, we were OK and then much to our surprise(and delight!) she placed 1st! Wow... we didn't see that one coming! She did skate well up until the fall and she recovered quickly from said fall and finished her program like a champ! BUT I honestly thought the fall would drop her down quite low. So, even with the fall, she placed 1st out of 5 girls. I'm sure there might have been some parents who were wondering how she placed 1st when their child didn't fall... but one can never tell what the judges will do on any given day, can they? The world of figure skating is an interesting one, that is foresure! The ordinals will forever boggle my mind and at times, will cause me to wonder "what in the world?"! :)

Anonymous said...

We've been on both ends. We started No Test 6 months ago and placed at the bottom. Parents told us that the girls who won had been skating No Test for the past year (a long time in ice skating time.) This past competition, my daughter came in first and really looked a lot faster and more put-together than any other No Test skater.

Afterwards, she said to me, "Well, looks like it's time to move on to pre pre and start working my way up again."

That's the way of it. Just like most things in life. The kids usually seem to realize it before the parents. They aren't as worried about "fair".

Nickysb2b said...
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