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    Figures: Do any coaches still teach them?

    This morning during a group class, the coach went over some of the first basic figures with the skaters. Not that MIF don't need focus and hard work, but my daughter (Int level) looked absolutely exhausted from concentrating so hard on even the beginning figures. (Which I assumed was a good challenge.)

    I know there is a bit of "back in my day" relativity to this argument and sometimes hand-wringing over the loss of figures.

    But I was just wondering whether they are still taught/practiced in any meaningful way at any rinks or by certain coaches (even if they aren't tested)? Is there really something to be gained over MIF other than an "academic" sort of challenge?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozet View Post
    This morning during a group class, the coach went over some of the first basic figures with the skaters. Not that MIF don't need focus and hard work, but my daughter (Int level) looked absolutely exhausted from concentrating so hard on even the beginning figures. (Which I assumed was a good challenge.)

    I know there is a bit of "back in my day" relativity to this argument and sometimes hand-wringing over the loss of figures.

    But I was just wondering whether they are still taught/practiced in any meaningful way at any rinks or by certain coaches (even if they aren't tested)? Is there really something to be gained over MIF other than an "academic" sort of challenge?
    My old rink started a figures clinic a few years ago. It started off as a trial, to see if there was any interest with the kids. The clinic was always full and the kids really enjoyed it. The main problem we ran into was that only one of our coaches had any type of extensive background in training/testing figures - the rest of us were too young to have really learned them.

    I personally think there is a lot to be gained from learning figures - edge control and quality to start with. I think it's great that coaches are incorporating them into clinics and lessons - I wish my coaches had done that when I was growing up.

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    I don't know if there are "serious" programs out there, but my coach teaches me moves based off her figures knowledge. If I'm having problems with the counters for example, she will have me do them on an 8 like she used to do. Yes, it really helps! I feel very blessed to have this knowledge passed on to me, but sad that I do not have the foundation to someday pass this on to others.

    Sometimes there is a special figures session group class at the rink but it's rare. I wish there were more.

    Is it possible to still test figures?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozet View Post
    This morning during a group class, the coach went over some of the first basic figures with the skaters. Not that MIF don't need focus and hard work, but my daughter (Int level) looked absolutely exhausted from concentrating so hard on even the beginning figures. (Which I assumed was a good challenge.)

    I know there is a bit of "back in my day" relativity to this argument and sometimes hand-wringing over the loss of figures.

    But I was just wondering whether they are still taught/practiced in any meaningful way at any rinks or by certain coaches (even if they aren't tested)? Is there really something to be gained over MIF other than an "academic" sort of challenge?
    Not sure what you mean by "meaningful", but all the coaches at my club are absolutely delighted whenever anyone asks to work on figures. We don't have a patch session, but they are more than happy to take over a little corner of ice and work with a student who wants to learn them.

    And yes, there really is something to be gained from them: concentration, body control, better edge quality. IMHO with moves (and the equivalent that we have here in Canuckistan) too often speed and ice coverage is emphasized at the expense of the edge quality that moves are supposed to teach.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    Not sure what you mean by "meaningful",
    I think what I meant is there something to be gained that can be translated into improving MIFs or other types of testing or competition. Intuitively, I thought yes, but wanted to hear others' thoughts.

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    Check out this new "Compulsory Figures Project" group (created in September by a coach in Minneapolis) on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/groups/417864058269890/

    Description: This group will follow the progress of a Patch Class that began on Sept. 6th, 2012 and it will also be a forum for both preserving and newly innovating the lost art of compulsory figures.
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

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    My rink in NY runs figures classes on Saturday mornings, on club ice.
    And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    Is it possible to still test figures?
    In the US I believe it is, if you can find a panel of judges that still have their test qualifications for whatever level you're testing. I know an adult skater who passed her Gold figure a couple of years ago, but she had to do a lot of searching to find enough judges for the test. Luckily she lives in a very large city (Los Angeles) so it was a lot easier to arrange the test than it might have been in a less populated area with fewer judges of any kind.

    The judges that she found were very happy to do the test for her, though. She told me that at the end of the test, one of the judges said to her, "When we're gone....that's it" - meaning that when that generation of judges with those qualifications passes away, the tests will disappear too because no one will be qualified to judge them
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    The coaches I have who did figures absolutely teach figures, or use their figures knowledge as a foundation for teaching other stuff (my main coach is always using them to help me know what to do with my shoulders, arms, free leg, etc). And yes, there is still a testing structure in place for figures but it's more and more difficult to find qualified judges
    BARK LESS. WAG MORE.

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    There are figures coaches in our area too.

    What disturbs me is that I see coaches who did not learn figures trying to teach figure-type moves (like the figure 8) and are teaching them all wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    In the US I believe it is, if you can find a panel of judges that still have their test qualifications for whatever level you're testing. I know an adult skater who passed her Gold figure a couple of years ago, but she had to do a lot of searching to find enough judges for the test. Luckily she lives in a very large city (Los Angeles) so it was a lot easier to arrange the test than it might have been in a less populated area with fewer judges of any kind.

    The judges that she found were very happy to do the test for her, though. She told me that at the end of the test, one of the judges said to her, "When we're gone....that's it" - meaning that when that generation of judges with those qualifications passes away, the tests will disappear too because no one will be qualified to judge them
    I passed my 3rd figure test in 2003. My test chair did have to set up a special session for me, since they couldn't tack it onto the beginning or end of a regular test session, so we picked 9:00 am on a Tuesday and I took off from work. I had no trouble finding judges luckily, since there were a number in our area qualified to judge and they were dying to do it. At the end of the test, they asked me to hurry up with the 4th test since they weren't getting any younger.

    There is a figures competition every August in Oregon.

    I have some figures information compiled here with some information about patch ic and testing. THough I admit I haven't updated it in a while.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

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    Figures are still a really large part of roller skating and they do have major championships in those.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    I also should point out that IME with adult skaters, those who skated as children/teens (i.e. when figure tests were required) are much better at Moves/skills than adults who didn't test or compete during the figure days.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    All the coaches at my rink had extensive training in figures, and my coach always likes to tell me how, "Back in the day........"

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    Thanks everyone, and thanks for the links! We're going to try figures again next week and I might even give it a go. My kiddo who dreads moves actually liked doing figures. Watching them, I was reminded of the penmanship drills we used to do over and over again in grade school (also waaaaaaayyy back it the day.) Figures looks like learning good penmanship...with your feet. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    The judges that she found were very happy to do the test for her, though. She told me that at the end of the test, one of the judges said to her, "When we're gone....that's it" - meaning that when that generation of judges with those qualifications passes away, the tests will disappear too because no one will be qualified to judge them
    I know, it's so sad that skaters of today will not be able to teach the skaters of tomorrow any figures, because they are not being taught them.

    I'd really like to get my coach to teach me some of what she knows. It's frustrating that she has all this figure knowledge that I can't get out of her. Even if I decided to start testing figures, how would I even practice it with no patch sessions? Freestyles & publics are too busy and I'm not sure what the attitude would be if I lugged out a scribe. It's fighting a losing battle to even learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I'd really like to get my coach to teach me some of what she knows. It's frustrating that she has all this figure knowledge that I can't get out of her. Even if I decided to start testing figures, how would I even practice it with no patch sessions? Freestyles & publics are too busy and I'm not sure what the attitude would be if I lugged out a scribe. It's fighting a losing battle to even learn.
    No, it's not. You might not be able to practice the figures at the full size with the regular proportions (as they would be if you drew them with a scribe), but you can practice smaller versions of them in a corner of the rink, or wherever you can find a quiet(ish) bit of ice.

    And I can't imagine that your coach *wouldn't* want to teach you what she can, if you asked her.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    You don't need a scribe to practise figures. I have found it is fun to use the hockey or curling circles on a rink and try and stick to the lines. I also suggest this to help those who have trouble getting onto an outside edge.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    The circles are supposed to be proportionate to the skater's height, hence the use of a scribe which can be adjusted.

    I did figures when I was a kid and really loved it. During the time I was not skating, when I learned that figures was out and moves was in, I was very disappointed. I have a bad attitude towards MIF and am distressed about the figures being gone because figures are a test of focus and precision that can't be adequately demonstrated by a MIF test. I feel like MIF has made skaters lazy.

    I just got a pair of Gold Test figure blades off EBay for 99 cents plus shipping. Gotta put them on something!

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    There's a difference of opinion about the use of scribes. Some people used them to lay out the circles beforehand, others used them to check the shape and size of the circles. I think the pattern was that for beginners/new figures, you would use the scribe beforehand and for experienced skaters, you would use it afterwards to verify that the figure was correct. However, a scribe wasn't mandatory. It was a "nice to have" tool, though, and definitely a status symbol, lol.

    Most of the circles for Figures are supposed to be three times the skater's height, but it's pretty easy to eyeball the outer edge point and estimate the other points on the curve. That also improved accuracy since you weren't following a pre-set pattern; you had to look where you were going and use proper edges rather than wobbling along on a pre-drawn figure with your head straight down for the entire figure.

    Only a few high-level skaters even owned scribes when I skated Figures in the 1980's, so it wasn't controversial - if you had one, you used it. (I didn't have one, but I bought one a few years ago off eBay.)

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