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johndockley92
09-13-2012, 12:05 PM
So random thoughts, but I don't really like the testing system USFS currently has in place for freeskates.

It seems stupid to me that a skater that just went to nationals would even have to test for the next level, it's clearly just procedure and a bit of a waste of time for certain skaters.

One thing that I'd definitely like to see changed is the restrictions on testing. I feel that any skater should be allowed to test all the way up to senior while still remaining whatever level they choose. As soon as they skate a certain level at a qualifying competition however, they shouldn't be able to skate below that. IE I feel that a skater should be able to test up to Senior and still compete in Intermediate, but as soon as they skate Novice at regionals, they can never go back to a level below Novice.

I also feel that the testing should be harder. As currently constituted, the test is a bit of a joke. I feel that the test should be changed to a short program that meets the current minimum requirements for that season. So if a man were to test Junior, he'd have to do a short program with a flip (double or triple) out of footwork, a double axel, and a triple double or triple triple combination (in addition to the various required footwork and spins).

To me it seems dumb that anyone would be able to pass a test without being able to do the elements that are required at that level. If they can't do the elements required in the short program, then they shouldn't be allowed to pass. I realize that this would mean less people would be passing, but it would hold a higher standard to the gold test.


Anyways, just my thoughts.


- John.

aliceanne
09-13-2012, 04:07 PM
So random thoughts, but I don't really like the testing system USFS currently has in place for freeskates.

It seems stupid to me that a skater that just went to nationals would even have to test for the next level, it's clearly just procedure and a bit of a waste of time for certain skaters.

One thing that I'd definitely like to see changed is the restrictions on testing. I feel that any skater should be allowed to test all the way up to senior while still remaining whatever level they choose. As soon as they skate a certain level at a qualifying competition however, they shouldn't be able to skate below that. IE I feel that a skater should be able to test up to Senior and still compete in Intermediate, but as soon as they skate Novice at regionals, they can never go back to a level below Novice.

I also feel that the testing should be harder. As currently constituted, the test is a bit of a joke. I feel that the test should be changed to a short program that meets the current minimum requirements for that season. So if a man were to test Junior, he'd have to do a short program with a flip (double or triple) out of footwork, a double axel, and a triple double or triple triple combination (in addition to the various required footwork and spins).

To me it seems dumb that anyone would be able to pass a test without being able to do the elements that are required at that level. If they can't do the elements required in the short program, then they shouldn't be allowed to pass. I realize that this would mean less people would be passing, but it would hold a higher standard to the gold test.


Anyways, just my thoughts.


- John.

Most people who go through the test system are recreational skaters who will never do a double axel or triple jump. They may want the credentials to coach or judge. I don't think there are enough elite competitors in the U.S. to make a separate test system worthwhile. They have a hard time finding enough test judges now. There are also very few people who test above the novice level now.

USFSA's mission is to promote skating in the U.S. Most of their constituents are recreational skaters. I think one of the reasons figure skating is not more popular as a spectator sport is that it is perceived as inaccessible to the average person. If you make it more so, you will probably lose even more fans.

gkelly
09-13-2012, 04:12 PM
Interesting thoughts...


It seems stupid to me that a skater that just went to nationals would even have to test for the next level, it's clearly just procedure and a bit of a waste of time for certain skaters.

If they've been competing at Nationals, they've already passed plenty of tests. In most cases the one they need to compete at the next level will be easy if they only include the elements required for the test. So it's not a huge burden, more along the lines of filling out the forms and turning them in. And it does give them an opportunity to put out a free program at the new program duration in front of judges.

But for the weakest national competitors in a small field (e.g., novice pairs), it might not actually be all that easy to pass the test for the next level.


One thing that I'd definitely like to see changed is the restrictions on testing. I feel that any skater should be allowed to test all the way up to senior while still remaining whatever level they choose. As soon as they skate a certain level at a qualifying competition however, they shouldn't be able to skate below that. IE I feel that a skater should be able to test up to Senior and still compete in Intermediate, but as soon as they skate Novice at regionals, they can never go back to a level below Novice.

Hm, that is an idea worth considering.


I also feel that the testing should be harder. As currently constituted, the test is a bit of a joke.

The tests serve more purposes besides just gatekeeping for qualifying competitions. The easier elements are needed in some form for the skaters who test for other reasons.

What might make sense is to keep the current freestyle tests as is but to add a requirement that junior and senior skaters who want to enter regionals need to pass an additional short program test. That would make the entries at regionals much smaller at those levels (and higher at intermediate and novice levels). It might lead to more teenagers quitting the sport when they max out on jumps and can't pass the next test, but it would ensure that only skaters who belong at the respective level would compete at regionals.

And the "test track" competitions for skaters who can't or don't want to do short programs with harder jumps would probably attract more entries from the skaters who can't pass the competitive tests. But since there's less prestige in entering them, a lot of skaters who can't pass the competitive tests would just quit at novice level, and that would be a loss to the sport at the grassroots level in terms of club members in the short term and potential coaches and officials in the longer term.

For a lot of teenagers, just being able to enter regionals at a level where they can make good-faith efforts at the required elements and compete against the same agemates they've been up against since preliminary is an incentive to keep training. If they feel welcome to keep doing that, until college and work schedules and other adult responsibilities cut into training time, they're more likely to remain connected to the sport and give back as club members and officials. If they feel rejected, they're more likely to walk away from the sport completely.

However, keep in mind that it is possible to score well in competition even with a complete failure on one element or moderate errors on a couple. For tests, everything must be successful or only slightly flawed, after up to two reskates.

So suppose you require a clean short program, allowing two reskates, to be able to compete at that level.

Take a would-be junior lady, for instance, who is strong with double jumps and spins and basic skating and presentation and can inconsistently land double axel and maybe an easier triple or two. As things currently stand she can place reasonably well (maybe even make it to Nationals if the other stuff is good enough) in junior competition when she has a good day on the harder jumps and not so well when they fail her. Under the current rules, she can pass her junior test on the first try using only jumps she's consistent at and then focus on preparing for competition. With the extra competitive test, she might need to take the test several times until she happens to have a good double axel day on test day.

With senior ladies and two required triples in addition, it would be even more of a crapshoot.

If you're worried about wasting competitors' time, forcing them to pass a test that they can't just check off on the first try would take even more of their time, although it would be time spent specifically on skills they also need in competition.


To me it seems dumb that anyone would be able to pass a test without being able to do the elements that are required at that level. If they can't do the elements required in the short program, then they shouldn't be allowed to pass. I realize that this would mean less people would be passing, but it would hold a higher standard to the gold test.

Remember, not everyone who passes the tests does so in order to be competitive.

The real question is how to maintain high standards at the qualifying competitions and at the same time also retain skaters in the sport who are never going to make it to Nationals but who have or could have other value to the sport as a whole.

We don't want to send the message that if you have only average talent and/or started at a later age, you're not welcome in the sport if you don't have a double axel by 15 or so.

Clarice
09-13-2012, 06:10 PM
Is there really a problem with the qualifying competitions the way they are? So skaters enter who would not be competitive nationally, let alone internationally. How does that get in the way of eventually identifying our national champions? Would limiting the field at Regionals create better skaters at Nationals? I don't think so, and I don't think it's a good idea to take away the goal of passing the Senior test that motivates so many skaters of lesser talent. It's still a huge accomplishment for many of them. I think the system as it exists does a pretty good job of letting the cream rise to the top.

GarrAarghHrumph
09-13-2012, 07:01 PM
One thing that I'd definitely like to see changed is the restrictions on testing. I feel that any skater should be allowed to test all the way up to senior while still remaining whatever level they choose. As soon as they skate a certain level at a qualifying competition however, they shouldn't be able to skate below that. IE I feel that a skater should be able to test up to Senior and still compete in Intermediate, but as soon as they skate Novice at regionals, they can never go back to a level below Novice.

I disagree. As aliceann said, the vast majority of skaters in USFS and even competing are recreational skaters, not elite level skaters. It's not fair to have a kid or adult who's only just managed to test into, say, pre-prelim have to compete against people who've passed - to exaggerate - their senior tests.

gkelly
09-13-2012, 07:31 PM
I disagree. As aliceann said, the vast majority of skaters in USFS and even competing are recreational skaters, not elite level skaters. It's not fair to have a kid or adult who's only just managed to test into, say, pre-prelim have to compete against people who've passed - to exaggerate - their senior tests.

This is the one part of johndockley92's contradictory suggestions that actually does make some sense to me, if set up with appropriate restrictions.

What the rules should be for limiting test levels of competitors at nonqualifying events such as prejuvenile and below, open juvenile, and test track would be up for debate, but I don't think johndockley92 is interested in those skaters (who make up the majority of the skating population in the US).

Already you can have skaters who have passed junior or senior MITF competing in prepreliminary. I've certainly seen it happen with skaters who have passed novice MITF (as ice dancers or synchro skaters) but who spend less time on freestyle and don't have double jumps. Skaters who have passed one or more tests that do require doubles (i.e., intermediate and up) are not likely to enter a competition that doesn't allow them . . . unless they're returning after injury or years away from the sport and can't do them any more, or are otherwise clearly not competitive at that level.

But the jumping skill level needed to just barely squeak past the intermediate test is pretty similar to what you see from the better jumpers at preliminary level (or Open Juvenile). And the jumping skills needed to pass the senior test are approximately what we see from the vast majority of intermediate competitors.


Let's say the rules apply just to qualifying levels.

Juvenile already has an age limit that forces skaters to move up at a certain point. So does intermediate, but for most skaters that point is after high school.

If a teenager can do double lutz and fully rotated double-double combinations and skate a 4- or 4.5-minute program, s/he may indeed want to graduate from the testing system before life changes after high school cut back the amount of training time available, or before physical growth interferes with ability to rotate jumps. But if their overall skill level is still what we expect from an average intermediate competitor, then continuing to compete at the intermediate level makes sense -- or novice level by 16 or 17 if they feel they've been there-done that or feel too big next to other intermediates. But no need to move into junior or senior competition, which requires jumps they can't do, just because they wanted to finish their tests while they still could.

At nonqual competitions, I guess they could play around with competing at different levels to see where they feel comfortable.

But once they enter the novice competition at regionals, they're not allowed to compete intermediate anywhere else ever again. Or to compete novice again once they enter regionals in juniors.

I think what would happen is that regionals (as well as club competitions) would have even more entries at the intermediate level and maybe a bit more at novice. Which may make it harder for all the good ones to rise to the top. But the talented jumpers will move up each year and leave the average ones behind.

aliceanne
09-13-2012, 07:37 PM
USFSA doesn't get government funding to send skaters to the Olympics like some federations do. It's support comes from it's membership so it needs a broad base. Elite skaters and qualifying events are just the tip of the iceberg.

ioana
09-13-2012, 08:04 PM
If a teenager can do double lutz and fully rotated double-double combinations and skate a 4- or 4.5-minute program, s/he may indeed want to graduate from the testing system before life changes after high school cut back the amount of training time available, or before physical growth interferes with ability to rotate jumps. But if their overall skill level is still what we expect from an average intermediate competitor, then continuing to compete at the intermediate level makes sense -- or novice level by 16 or 17 if they feel they've been there-done that or feel too big next to other intermediates. But no need to move into junior or senior competition, which requires jumps they can't do, just because they wanted to finish their tests while they still could.

This would make sense as long as some sort of restrictions -like you mentioned- were in place. For example, you couldn't test more than 2 levels above the level you compete and this would only apply to skaters intermediate or higher.

I for one believe the test requirements at lower levels are enough to differentiate between skaters & someone who can land a few doubles and an axel has no business sand bagging in preliminary -or even pre-pre. I still see this happen in some local competitions, with kids who just don't test up to the next level since their (very misguided, IMO) coaches and parents want them to 'establish themselves' before moving on. As if being an established preliminary girl gets you anywhere...Not being allowed to take the next test until you start competing there helps alleviate this situation somewhat. Am afraid testing and being allowed to compete at a lower level would only encourage this attitude.

Aussie Willy
09-13-2012, 11:57 PM
One thing that I'd definitely like to see changed is the restrictions on testing. I feel that any skater should be allowed to test all the way up to senior while still remaining whatever level they choose. As soon as they skate a certain level at a qualifying competition however, they shouldn't be able to skate below that. IE I feel that a skater should be able to test up to Senior and still compete in Intermediate, but as soon as they skate Novice at regionals, they can never go back to a level below Novice.

You would be opening a whole can of worms with this one.

The point of testing (taking out the recreational skaters and those who are just doing tests) is to set a minimum standard for the level to compete at. It doesn't have to be a fantastic standard and at the end of the day the competition will sort them out. But having someone who has done a Senior test competing in Intermediate does provide an unfair advantage to the Senior skater.

RFOS
09-14-2012, 03:41 AM
You would be opening a whole can of worms with this one.

The point of testing (taking out the recreational skaters and those who are just doing tests) is to set a minimum standard for the level to compete at. It doesn't have to be a fantastic standard and at the end of the day the competition will sort them out. But having someone who has done a Senior test competing in Intermediate does provide an unfair advantage to the Senior skater.

Well, the best Intermediate skaters in the U.S. would be more than capable of passing their Senior FS tests now (and many have passed Senior Moves in the Field) as it is, so the disparity in skill level is already there.

Plusdinfo
09-14-2012, 08:19 AM
Question: why did Maria Butyrskaya have to do this test skate (or was it just her choice) having already competed at Worlds?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PXYfsO0trs

Aussie Willy
09-14-2012, 08:57 AM
Well, the best Intermediate skaters in the U.S. would be more than capable of passing their Senior FS tests now (and many have passed Senior Moves in the Field) as it is, so the disparity in skill level is already there.
Then you get people complaining about sandbagging.

Cherub721
09-15-2012, 12:07 AM
Question: why did Maria Butyrskaya have to do this test skate (or was it just her choice) having already competed at Worlds?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PXYfsO0trs

This is a different type of test skate. I believe this thread is referring to tests an American skater must pass to move on the next level. In countries such as Russia and France, the federation will sometimes do a "test" skate to test the skater's fitness or readiness for the Worlds, regardless of how experienced they are. I don't know the specifics of 1997, but Maria was inconsistent in the 90s (for example, she didn't qualify to the LP in 1994 Worlds, causing Russia to miss a spot in the Olympics), so I'm not surprised they would have her do a test. This past season, Ksenia Makarova struggled with her jumps, so the federation made her do a test skate after Euros and were deciding between her performance there and Polina Shelepen's at Junior Worlds, ultimately deciding Ksenia was to go to Worlds.

leafygreens
09-19-2012, 10:12 PM
I also feel that the testing should be harder.

Harder for whom? They're already hard for 99.9% of skaters.



I for one believe the test requirements at lower levels are enough to differentiate between skaters & someone who can land a few doubles and an axel has no business sand bagging in preliminary -or even pre-pre.

I really have a problem with the term "sandbagging." Just because a skater can do a double or two, doesn't mean their spins, MIF, or choreo is up to the standard of the next test. If the skaters were doing triples in pre-pre (not sure that's even allowed), or staying in preliminary for 10 years knowing how to do all the doubles, then THAT would be sandbagging, but doing 1-2 doubles in preliminary at the same age as other kids is not really sandbagging! It just means, the skater is good, and usually the skater's mother is jealous for their child. It's kind of nosy, IMO, to get into someone's business about "why" they haven't tested up a level. Maybe they're not confident or ready. It's not for anyone else to decide. In fact, the head coach at one of my old rinks would not let her students take pre-pre until they could land an axel.

gkelly
09-19-2012, 10:40 PM
If the skaters were doing triples in pre-pre (not sure that's even allowed),

It's not.
http://www.usfigureskating.org/content/Singles%20FS%20Elements%202012-2013%20No%20test%20-%20Pre%20Juv.pdf

Hardest jumps allowed at the lower levels:
no test: single lutz
pre-pre: single axel
preliminary: double loop
prejuvenile: double lutz
juvenile: double axel

These rules were put in about a dozen years ago, more or less (I don't remember the exact year). I remember hearing that during the debate at Governing Council some coaches asked what to do about a juvenile-age skater who could do triples and many in the room chorused "Test up!"

The same would apply to prepreliminary skaters who can do doubles.

Certainly there are skaters who are working on jumps that are not allowed at their level and landing them occasionally. But that doesn't mean they're ready to put them in a competitive program.

Most doubles at preliminary and prejuvenile, and many triples in intermediate, are underrotated.

The really talented jumpers who can rotate the jumps at the lowest level they're allowed are generally younger and less physically mature than average for the level they're at, let alone the next one after that, so they would be at a disadvantage if they moved up.