Sunday, April 4, 2010

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Ask the Ice Moms: How Do You Put on a Club Ice Show?

A funny thing happens when you mention ice show. People begin to look uncomfortable, shuffle their feet, and  remember an urgent appointment. See ya! Bye! Mention ice show and you'll be standing alone within minutes.

Reader V. e-mailed me ages ago asking this simple question:
I have been selected to be the Committee Chair to plan our year-end show. We have a small figure skating club - approx 40 skaters (all levels). Do you have any ideas for theme, planning, organizing a show?

I have no experience with ice shows beyond cleaning out the locker room toilets and manning the ticket sales table. Here's what the board had to say:

From Xan, figure skating coach, parent of a professional ice show skater, and blogger at Xanboni!
They need a policy on solos (everyone gets one, or only above a certain test level) and they need to figure out levels for groups. They need to make sure that their rink or municipality has an ASCAP and a BMI license for music rights (most do). Choosing the music is the easy part, but they need someone to cut it, and they need to determine a standard length for all solos and group numbers, so no one feels slighted.

A nice thing to do with an ice show is to donate part of the proceeds to a local charity, like the Breast Cancer Walk, or book drive. That organization will help get audience, and local newspapers are more likely to pay attention to it.

If they're a US figure skating club, or in an area that has Basic Skills programs, they should call Susi Wehrli, member director for U.S. Figure Skating and ask her for resources. The phone number I found by Googling her is 719.635.5200, but I'm not vouching for it. Susi's counterpart at the Ice Skating Institute, in case they're an independent club or ISI program, is Randy Winslip. Both Susi and Randy are very approachable and know everything there is to know about clubs. Hope that helps!
From figure skating parent S.F.:
We used to do group numbers and divide the skaters up based on ability. The past several years we changed the format and the skaters perform the competition programs in front of an audience and the audience votes for their favorite skater. We found this format worked well for our club because we were able to put it together with less ice time/coaching fees then when we did group numbers.
From figure skating parent PairsMom, whose son and his partner won a gold medal for Intermediate Pairs skating at the December 2009 Junior Nationals competiton:

Here is my advice:

  • First and foremost, make sure that rink management, staff, and coaches are all "on board" and enthusiastic about the show and willing to lend their support.   
  • Form a committee and pick a theme - check other club websites for ideas of show titles 
  • Committee could consist of the following titles (this is a minimum and there could be more)
  • Show Director (probably a coach) 
  • Music Director - someone to select music, cut music, make copies for skaters, play music, announce, etc.
  • BackStage Director - a parent that can literally run things backstage, on or off ice behind the curtain lining up groups, solos, etc.
  • Costumes - someone to oversee and approve costume selections, make suggestions, etc.
  • Publicity/Tickets
  • Rehearsal Asst./Runner - older skater (HS or College) or parent
  • Props/Set decorations on ice and/or in the lobby
  • Plan to have an all cast combined number for opening and/or closing of the show to include all skaters of all levels. This will be the highlight of your show and the most memorable for all involved - I PROMISE!
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate

From board member S.L., who gets roped into running her club's show every year:

  1. Pick a date - This can be hard because of vacations, school breaks, and hockey conflicts. Find the most practice ice available and work your date around that.
  2. Pick a theme - Get ideas from kids, such as: Saturday at the 70's, traveling (very flexible), newspaper (very flexible), jungle, Disney, beach, music genres. Avoid religion. People will always be unhappy with the theme, but these are usually the people who complain anyway. When considering the theme, think about how hard it will be to get costumes and music.
  3. Sets - Sets are always last. Ask one person from each group to facilitate props. The coach decides what props and sets they'll need. Less is better, especially with little kids.
  4. Costumes - use dance books to help with ordering, but costumes can be expensive. You can go to or some place similar for good deals.
  5. Budget - Decide what's realistic. Charge skaters their registration fees based on what you'll need to cover the ice costs. The goal is for the show to pay for itself. For us, it's rarely a fundraiser. Sometimes you can get a portion of the ice fees donated and maybe some of the pros will donate their time, too. Ticket sales usually pay for the pros and cover the cost difference between registration fees and the cost of ice and costumes.
  6. Printing - We get our posters and flyers 100% donated. Our figure skater memory book printing is donated, too. So any money we collect from the memory book is profit.
  7. Celebrations - the rehearsal dinner, cast party, pictures, DVDs, and T-shirts pay for themselves.
  8. Jobs - co-chairs, back-stage lead, costumes, dressing room monitor, lights, Learn to Skate liaison, memory book creator, music man, cast party planner, program creator, props master, concessions, set-up and clean-up crews, ticket sellers, t-shirt coordinator, videographer, and photographer.
It's a lot of work, but very rewarding. Go in knowing that not everyone will be happy, but those people are the ones who don't help, so you don't feel as bad. It's a lot of work; don't let it scare you. It comes together nicely in the end.

Do you have any experience with club ice shows? Don't be afraid - I'm not asking you to volunteer! If you know anything that would help someone with an ice show, please put it in the comments!

As always, if you have any questions for the Ice Moms, just e-mail me! You can also send me any post ideas you have. If you're an expert, please contact me! I'm always looking for experts for Wednesday's Ask the Expert feature. My e-mail is:

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

How-to: Counsel a Kid out of Figure Skating

We've all seen this kid: she drags herself into the rink, slooooowly puts on her figure skates, gets on the ice like she's going to prison, and skates around aimlessly. She exits the rink to retie her skates, to adjust her ponytail, to get a drink of water, to hide and read a book. When she does skate, she practices moves, jumps, and spins that she learned three years ago in Basic 8.

Mom, I'm going to tell it to you straight: you need to counsel your kid out of figure skating. The other parents aren't saying anything when your skater whines in the lobby and complains in the parking lot. They're too polite and they've known you for years. They're your friends and they think you'll be offended if they have the awkward conversation with you.

I'm going to do it: save your money and find your figure skater something to do outside of the rink.

Mom, I'm not trying to be mean. Really. I like you. I even like your whiny kid, when she's away from the rink and having fun. It's just painful to watch the scene your skater makes every week and it's painful, too, to know how you're scraping together the money to put her on the ice.

Here's how you do it, Mom:
  1. Cold turkey. Just take a break. Maybe a month. Maybe the summer. When the time for the next ice contract comes around, ask your figure skater if she misses it. She probably won't.
  2. Maintain friendships. Arrange for times to spend with her (former) figure skating friends. Keep those friendship ties, but do it away from the rink.
  3. Bandwagon. Ask your skater what her school friends enjoy. I don't care if it's knitting, find a way for your kid to join in.
  4. Replace. At the very same time that your skater would be on the ice, find something wonderful, marvelous, adventurous for her to try. Normally I would never recommend horse back riding (the only thing more expensive than figure skating), but if it gets your kid off the ice, it's worth the money. 
  5. Bait-n-switch. Does your skater love the musicality of figure skating? Try dance. Does she like the performance aspect? Try theater. Does she like the movement? Get her roller blades and crown her queen of the roller rink.
  6. The long goodbye. Reduce her ice time so gradually that she doesn't even notice it happening. Pretty soon she'll be weaned off of the ice.
  7. Reward behaviors you want to see. When she's trying the new activity, gush appropriately. Watch her and be amazed. Encourage her to talk about her new activity and how very, very cool it is.
Mom, don't listen to your kid when she says in that whiny voice that she loves figure skating and doesn't want to quit. Instead, listen to her behavior. Her attitude, her actions, and her level of activity should all be good indicators that this sport isn't for her. Be strong, Mom. You can do it.

Tell her that just because she doesn't like figure skating as much as she had thought, she isn't a failure and she isn't a bad person. She just needs to find that passion, that spark, that special interest that will take her from whiny to wonderful.

Give your kid permission to quit. Please. I promise I'll call you. We'll have coffee. We'll take the kids to the movies. We'll catch up and laugh. You'll show me photos of your kid on her horse, on stage, or at the gymnasium. The kid will beam with pride. We'll both gush appropriately.

I can't wait.

Alright, parents. Do you have any ideas for this mom? How would you recommend that she counsel her kid off the ice?

Do you have a question for Ice Mom? Ice Coach? Ice Girl? Synchro Mom? Are you an expert and you want to contribute to the Wednesday Ask the Expert Feature? Do you have a suggestion for a post you'd like to see? Wonderful. E-mail me at