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  1. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    I would suggest, if you would like to compare the skills levels of USFS and ISI tracks, that you attend a competition that includes both and watch the comparable levels. In New England, Bay State Games includes both ISI and USFS and include adults as well, and the State Games of America in York, PA this summer will as well.

    The differences in the two programs will be apparent.
    I know. I was at Bay State Games to compete in an adult event the next day and went to the Saturday gala where winners in all categories performed. What struck me -and not in a good way- was how in ISI, the skating level visibly declined as age categories went up. So the platinum 12-14 winner was quite good , but 16-18 was a lot worse. Yes, I realize this might have had something to do with who signed up to compete, but let's just say it didn't make me want to try ISI.

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    One thing ISI does really well is to encourage people to keep skating, recreationally.

    Most of the 'okay'; 16-18 year olds at our rink have given up on USFS. They still work on their moves tests, but they don't compete. We no longer have ISI competitions locally, and if one of the area coaches didn't travel with his group taking them to the national events for ISI, they just wouldn't be skating at all.

    So ISI skaters may not be as good as USFS skaters at the same age, but for the most part, I think skaters at that ability level would just quit (though test track is helping this a little, but it has a lot of stigma to it) otherwise.


    However, comparing the teens skating in one system is kind of irrelevant if we are talking adult competition. And yes, I will say the adults competing USFS are generally better- but that means that people like me are always going to be stuck at the bottom of the standings in USFS. I have my bronze test, but won't ever have a flip or a lutz- I can do combo spins though. Locally, I place well and enjoy competing, at nationals, I'm going to be screwed. ISI, I probably wouldn't enter freestyle, but I might enter a few artistic categories, the improve (interpretive they call it) event is fabulous, I might try the rhythmic skating events, maybe do compulsories, try a team event, skate a duo, enter the stroking competition, do the spin event- there are so many more options.


    Maybe it is just around here- but when we did have ISI events, the first entry was $30 and additional events were $10. By contrast, USFS competitions the first entry is around $60 with additional events about $30. That is without IJS judging. To me, that makes a major difference too.


    I just don't see the need to put down one system because you skate in another. Maybe it is because we don't have ISI local, but to me, it isn't about the system you skate in, but the coach you choose. The system doesn't teach you to skate, the coach does.

  3. #43
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    Adults around here are really having fun with ISI competitions, it's much cheaper too. I skate at ISI rinks. Most coaches will take students thru USFS tests. I do not think they identify themselves as exclusively ISI or USFS.

    Not sure if the OP is still with this thread (lol). The most important thing is to choose a coach that matches your learning style. The coach will let you know what competitions are available in the area and where would you fit in. Yes tests are usually required as you move up the ladder. Enjoy skating!

  4. #44

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    How does testing work in ISI? Can you go all the way from beginner to upper levels only with private lessons?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    How does testing work in ISI? Can you go all the way from beginner to upper levels only with private lessons?
    Yes, you could, though pre-freestyle most do groups, as they do for USFS.

    ISI asks that coaches do not test their own students. ISI rinks often have a skate director run tests at the end of group lessons, or when a skater in privates asks for a test. If the rink is not an ISI rink, a coach can test their own students. ISI believes coaches can judge their own students, just as teachers have to score their students papers, though when possible at tests and competitions, they try to avoid this.


    For the higher tests (7, 8, 9), you must do them at an official ISI regional or national event or through video submission. For level 10 it must be done at an ISI national event.

    Or you can take USFS tests and enter categories designed to match with these levels. That may just be for freestyle levels though, not basics.


    Here are the requirements if you are interested: http://www.skateisi.com/site/sub.cfm...requirements#7
    The dance step sequences are explained in the rulebook. The FS3 one is a 9 step mohawk sequence that is nearly identical to the 8-step mohawk on the juvenile USFSA test, except it is not required to be done as fast.
    Last edited by Skittl1321; 03-27-2013 at 07:27 PM.

  6. #46

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    Thanks, Skittl321.

    So basically, for pre-freestyle levels and first few levels of freestyle in either system, most skaters start with group lessons and may add some additional private lessons as they advance. Some skaters who are serious from the very beginning might start with privates especially if they're aiming to be competitive skaters on the USFS standard track.

    In ISI you have one dance step sequence that is required at each level, as opposed to the 5 or 6 patterns that are prerequisites to the freestyle tests at each level in USFS . The content is more difficult than what's required at a comparable level in the USFS standard track, but the standards needed to pass the test are not what's required for the same move on the higher level USFS test.

    A skater who passed Freestyle 4 or 5 in ISI or Freestyle 5 or 6 (highest group class level) in Basic Skills would be ready to enter standard-track USFS no-test events, to pass the pre-preliminary Moves in the Field test, and could easily pass the pre-preliminary freestyle test but might not want to compete at that level if they don't have an axel.

    For the adult track, the progression of skating skills vs. jumps is different.

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    That is a pretty good summary gkelly.

    However, at least at my rink, the skaters who are ISI Freestyle 5 are generally competing preliminary or pre-juv USFS. Freestyle 5 does require an axel. The USFS Freestyle Learn to Skate top level only requires the ability to walk through, not land, an axel.

    For an adult level comparision- I passed my Bronze MITF about the same time I passed ISI Freestyle 3. It took me a number of years longer to pass the Bronze free test (freaking loop!). Adults might prefer that ISI has you do a change foot spin before a sit spin. I know I did!

    At our rink, I've never seen a kid start at the very beginning with privates, but I suppose you could. Most everyone, even those who stay in group lessons, begins privates after Basic 8. I know of only 1 child skater that does freestyle group lessons and no privates, but she has never skated a program.

  8. #48
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    Ha, everyone I know who does ISI hates that changefoot spin in Freestyle 3. And I've heard a lot of ISI coaches say that it should be at a higher level test because it's too difficult for a lot of kids. I think the last time I did a clean one was when I passed the Freestyle 3 test
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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    Ha, everyone I know who does ISI hates that changefoot spin in Freestyle 3. And I've heard a lot of ISI coaches say that it should be at a higher level test because it's too difficult for a lot of kids. I think the last time I did a clean one was when I passed the Freestyle 3 test
    Well, sit spins tend to be just as hard because of the stupid knee bend! I do think the change foot spin is considered the 'stretch' element of the test though- every ISI level has somthing that just seems to get people.

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    I was an ISI skater and never had a problem with change-foot spins when I tested ISI FS3 nor since then. I can do several combinations of sit, upright and camel spins with a change of foot. My bugaboo on ISI FS3 was the back pivot, lol.

    I do agree that the USFSA puts more emphasis on footwork and transitions. ISI skaters should do Moves or Figures to challenge themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    Ha, everyone I know who does ISI hates that changefoot spin in Freestyle 3. And I've heard a lot of ISI coaches say that it should be at a higher level test because it's too difficult for a lot of kids. I think the last time I did a clean one was when I passed the Freestyle 3 test
    My coach used to say for that level it's too difficult to actually get true back outside edge on the backspin. So coaches let the skater get away with back inside edge, then it's difficult to fix later on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    it isn't about the system you skate in, but the coach you choose. The system doesn't teach you to skate, the coach does.
    For me, it has nothing to do with the coach. An ISI coach can teach me the most advanced MIF ever, but if I don't have the test forcing me to learn it then I probably won't have the desire to push myself very far.

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    Our area may be unique but all the ISI coaches here have their students do USFS moves tests. They just don't all do USFS competitions (some do).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Our area may be unique but all the ISI coaches here have their students do USFS moves tests. They just don't all do USFS competitions (some do).
    People who have been involved in skating for a long time recognize that, years ago, many rinks were ISI-only and the Clubs were typically USFSA, so there was a schism. There was no Basic Skills or Moves in the Field and USFSA Clubs didn't offer a lot in terms of footwork. Transitions and footwork were requirements, but there was no curriculum to "learn it the USFSA" way. Today, there are very few ISI-only rinks and yes, most coaches introduce USFSA Moves patterns because it's a more challenging method of learning footwork when compared to the ISI Dance Step Sequences. The ISI has evolved as well, introducing their "metal" levels of testing to keep skaters involved in their testing and competitions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjane45 View Post
    My coach used to say for that level it's too difficult to actually get true back outside edge on the backspin. So coaches let the skater get away with back inside edge, then it's difficult to fix later on.
    This. I had this exact problem. To this day I STILL have issues with my backspin because of it.
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  16. #56
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    I'm lucky I never had a wrong edge issue. My problem was crossing my stupid foot.

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by treesprite View Post
    If I was only 21 and was going to do USFSA tests, I'd stick to standard rather than adult track. Reserve adult track for after you hit your 30s.
    30s?? Surely you underestimate a lot of us....

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I'm not talking about the coaches, but the system. My skating stagnated for so many years because I wasn't being taught MIF. One pattern (if that) per level in ISI just doesn't cut it.

    The ISI system is also rigged to where you aren't able to compete some pretty basic moves in lower levels. There are some restrictions in USFS on maneuvers, but they aren't nearly as strict. For example in ISI, no back pivots in FS2. Seriously?

    This seemed to lead, in my experience, to a resistance from my coaches to teach me any moves outside my level (such as flying spins) or any kind of novelty spins or maneuvers that were not on my current test level. In other words, they didn't like teaching you anything from the new level until you passed every single thing in the old. My experience was with two different coaches in two different geographical areas.

    I got fed up with not learning anything new in ISI. Then, when I decided to test USFS, my skating drastically improved from doing MIF. Frankly, I was a little embarassed that after going so far with ISI, I could barely even do inside edges and 3-turns on the lower MIF tests. I had to work at it really hard but it made me so much better. My USFS coaches had no reservations at all about teaching me FS10 level spins even though I'm not doing doubles.

    I love that I can still become a Senior level skater one day with MIF, without doing all those doubles that my body may not withstand.

    Obviously if a skater is doing both systems at the same time, there is probably a benefit from the extra chances to compete. However I would not pick just ISI, as the test structure is lacking.
    What she said. ^^^

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    Here's how I see it: Your situation is like deciding you want to learn ballet as an adult. Do you, as an adult, want to go to a dancing school where the big event is the recital at the end of the season where everbody wears all sorts of shiny, sparkly outfits? Or do you want to really study ballet? The ISI is like the big recital dancing school and the USFSA is like taking class at the Boston Ballet School. You're ultimately going to really, REALLY learn ballet at the Boston Ballet School. I was just looking at the ISI web site and saw that it stresses "fun!" with an exclamation point like it's one big party at the ice rink. This concerns me because, as a lifelong skater, I can say that skating, while it has its fun moments, is more like a studying ballet or practicing yoga; it's an exploration of what your body can do, and "fun!" (with exclamation point) is too frivolous a word to describe what is wonderful about skating. You struggle class after class (or session after session in skating) just to be in the "zone" just once. It can be very sublime. And beautiful. And it can be frustrating as all hell. But to call it "fun!" is kind of misleading, because it suggests that there will be no struggle, or that standards will be lower in the interest of "fun!" Skating is hard work and requires lots of concentration (which is what I like about it, actually). But it will be intensely rewarding. Which is why we do it. So don't look at skating as a series of tests and "fun!" events where you wear sparkly outfits (although there will be a time for that). You will get much more out of it if you look at it in terms of a lifelong exploration. Don't get me wrong; you should have tests as a goal--which you need often as minimum requirements to practice on certain freestyle sessions, for example--but don't get sucked into racking up tests as if for a resume. You'll be very frustrated if you do this. That said, I would go the USFSA route. It's more serious and more respected in the skating world--and also the official governing body for figure skating in the US. You will probably become a better skater in the long run.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    That is a pretty good summary gkelly.

    However, at least at my rink, the skaters who are ISI Freestyle 5 are generally competing preliminary or pre-juv USFS. Freestyle 5 does require an axel. The USFS Freestyle Learn to Skate top level only requires the ability to walk through, not land, an axel.

    For an adult level comparision- I passed my Bronze MITF about the same time I passed ISI Freestyle 3. It took me a number of years longer to pass the Bronze free test (freaking loop!). Adults might prefer that ISI has you do a change foot spin before a sit spin. I know I did!

    At our rink, I've never seen a kid start at the very beginning with privates, but I suppose you could. Most everyone, even those who stay in group lessons, begins privates after Basic 8. I know of only 1 child skater that does freestyle group lessons and no privates, but she has never skated a program.
    If you're starting as an adult and know you want to skate--the original poster already says she's got some of the basics, then don't waste your time with group lessons. It's too generic and too introductory. Just cut to the chase and find a coach who works well with adults.

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