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  1. #61
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    Hmmmm that generalized a bit. ISI is created for recreational skaters, where kids and adults are equally likely to quit after progress stalls. When qualifying to eligible competitions is not the ultimate goal, it's fair to emphasize the fun factor and keep skaters in the sport. Really, one can be as serious as s/he wants at an ISI competition, the lighter options are just a possibility to get loose. It's not like USFS adult nationals don't have similar events.

    Not all group lessons are genetic and introductory. It depends on the class size and coach's ability to challenge everyone. If it's a good group class, keep it alongside privates: different perspective and camaraderie.
    Last edited by jjane45; 04-02-2013 at 05:13 PM.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by J-Ro View Post
    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.
    Maybe your rink sucks at group lessons....
    I started as an adult and did group lessons and progressed through them fabulously, though through a series of moves and different rinks kind of did an odd path (started in basic 3/4, then Adult 2, the at my current rink did Delta, but they dropped ISI so Basic 7/8). After I passed Basic 8 I started private lessons, but our rink's freeskate LTS is excellent, so I stayed in that until recently when my schedule changed. I had passed through Bronze freeskate and was in a group class with kids at the preliminary and pre-juv level. We also have a group class for kids at the juvenile/intermediate level.

    Doing private lessons for basic skills would have been way cost prohibitive for me. $30 + $9 ice time for 30 minutes? Group lessons include ice time and are about $11 each here. Plus they give you a practice pass for ice time later in the week, meaning the actual cost of the lesson is almost nothing. (One of the reasons I stayed in groups while doing privates- I used the practice ice pass for the ice I had my lesson on.)

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by treesprite View Post
    That's an absolutely ridiculous statement. Obviously you don't have adequate experience with ISI to be able to form a real opinion about it. USFSA didn't even have basic skating levels until fairly recently, and skaters are not required to pass those levels before going into freestyle testing and competitions. If anything, advanced USFSA skaters are in general less trained in basic skills than ISI freestyle skaters who absolutely must pass the basic skills levels before moving on to freestyle tests/competitions. Also, ISI freestyle levels at the upper end are more difficult than the USFSA senior level. You don't see PSA giving higher ratings to USFSA coaches over ISIA coaches.
    It is true that the basic skills program is separate from the regular testing track. However, if a skater is starting out as Pre-preliminary, the passing standards are the same whether you have been through basic skills or not. It does not mean that a skater who has never been in the basic skills program will be less of a skater when he or she has passed the pre-preliminary tests. The skater just may have to spend more time in private lessons to get there, that's all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie S View Post
    I would suggest you don't have adequate experience with USFSA. By "basic skating levels", I assume you are talking about the Basic Skills curriculum. Yes, it's true that the USFSA developed its group lesson program (mid 80s) after ISI did. But I believe leafygreens is talking about skating skills in the context of Moves in the Field (MIF) tests, which are required in USFSA but do not exist in ISI.
    Not exactly. The USFSA has had a type of basic skills program for ages--at least 40 years. When I was a kid in the early '70s, there was the badge program which is pretty much the same as today's basic skills program.
    Last edited by J-Ro; 04-03-2013 at 01:49 AM. Reason: Misread original post

  4. #64
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    For those who are citing the cost factor as benefit to taking group lessons: yes, this can be something to consider. However, after a certain point, differences in skill levels even among progressing beginning adults will become apparent. I am a proponent of group lessons for an absolute beginner but once the differences in skaters becomes apparent, the group provides less of a benefit and one's time and money could be better spent with individual instruction. The faster-progressing skater will likely need extra challenges and the slower-progressing skater will need extra attention. $30 for the 30-minute lesson can be time and money well spent.

  5. #65
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    J-Ro does your rink just do an 'adult' level? That's a major mistake. I wouldn't put up for that for group classes.

    Adults should be divided by skill level just like kids, and possibly with kids (adults in our program usually are once they reach Basic 5 where the kids are a bit older). Then it doesn't matter if you are fast or slow progressing. If you are fast, you promote out of the level in 8 weeks, and move to a new one. If you are slow, you might stay there for a few years. But one person's progress shouldn't effect anothers.


    And I don't think anyone who passes Delta is in any different position than someone passing Basic 8 to begin working on pre-pre moves in the field. The programs are roughly equal. It totally depends on the rink and whether they hold passing standards or do social promotion. I know of an ISI rink in Chicago that is downright stickler for having to be at mastery level to move to the next class, and I've seen USFS rinks pass kids because the 8 week course is over, so they get to Basic 7 without being able to do a one foot glide!

    The USFSA Adult Basic skills program also has some major gaps- I'd recommend to any adult wanting to do freestyle skating to do the Basic Eights instead.

  6. #66
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    A good coach doesn't limit what she/he teaches to test requirements, but to what the skater wants to learn and has the potential to learn.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by J-Ro View Post
    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.
    Maybe you don't do it for "fun!" but a whole bunch of us do (including me). In fact, I would argue that most adult skaters are in it for the personal reward of learning a new skill, overcoming fears and yes - having fun both with their skating and with their skating friends. You may personally need the "hard work and concentration" aspect of skating to make it meaningful to you and you may personally need to be with the "more respected" organization, but I don't think it is constructive to dismiss a whole segment of adult skaters (as well as an entire organization) just because they (and it) don't fit into your personal needs.

    Both USFS and ISI serve their purposes, and the individual skater should choose whichever system best fits their personality and goals. One is not better than the other, they just serve different needs.

    FTR, I skated both ISI and USFS as a kid back in the 70's and 80's, and as an adult I have been to USFS Adult Nationals six times, with AN medals in solo dance and interp, as well as a sectional medal at championship gold, so I'm pretty familiar with the adult competitive skating world. I have not done ISI competitions as an adult, but I would consider it. I hear they're great fun from a couple of people who do.

  8. #68

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    IME, the first thing that most adults who don't skate want to know about skating is: am I going to fall down and hurt myself? If the fun aspect of skating is emphasized, that might be what's needed to get past that to get them on the ice. Most adults are smart enough to realize that something that's fun can also be hard work and frustrating. Sometimes the "fun" is in achieving something out of all that difficult hard work, and that's OK too.

    And really, we're talking about adults. No one is going to Worlds or the Olympics. Does it really matter for adults that the USFS is "more serious and more respected in the skating world" than ISI? (a statement I don't agree with - I think ISI is very well recognized and respected for what it does, and for creating opportunities for skaters who might not otherwise be participating)
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8er1964 View Post
    Maybe you don't do it for "fun!" but a whole bunch of us do (including me). In fact, I would argue that most adult skaters are in it for the personal reward of learning a new skill, overcoming fears and yes - having fun both with their skating and with their skating friends. You may personally need the "hard work and concentration" aspect of skating to make it meaningful to you and you may personally need to be with the "more respected" organization, but I don't think it is constructive to dismiss a whole segment of adult skaters (as well as an entire organization) just because they (and it) don't fit into your personal needs.

    Both USFS and ISI serve their purposes, and the individual skater should choose whichever system best fits their personality and goals. One is not better than the other, they just serve different needs.

    FTR, I skated both ISI and USFS as a kid back in the 70's and 80's, and as an adult I have been to USFS Adult Nationals six times, with AN medals in solo dance and interp, as well as a sectional medal at championship gold, so I'm pretty familiar with the adult competitive skating world. I have not done ISI competitions as an adult, but I would consider it. I hear they're great fun from a couple of people who do.
    You have a point. However, I am just asking the original poster to consider what she wants out of it. Hey, if she wants "fun!" (with exclamation point), great. I just find that the enjoyment of skating is on a much deeper level than "fun!" and this it is something to consider and that the word "fun!" can be deceiving because learning skating is arduous, no matter which organization you go with. I then added my own opinion because the poster wanted to know what people's opinions were. So I gave it to her.

  10. #70

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    I started with standard USFS testing back in the dark ages before Adult Test were a glimmer on the horizon because it was all there was back then in my area. Once you got past Basic Groups, if you wanted to jump or spin, you joined the club and took private lessons. There was no other option. Although club people kept trying to push me into Ice Dance, I persisted in figures and free skating, mainly because I didn't have a dance partner and the dance sessions weren't convenient for me.

    A couple of decades later I had friends in ISI and it looked like fun so I tried it. My then-coach did both so it wasn't an issue. By then I'd competed some in USFS Adult events, including Adult Nationals, medaling in a couple of figures events and finishing in the meddle of the pack in free skating. I did ISI Adult Nationals and Worlds when they were within driving distance and medaled in both.

    So I have personal experience with both systems. As has been said, both have their strong points and weaknesses. When I see the two programs side by side, as at Bay State Games, the differences between them beome very apparent. But for me the one glaring issue I have with ISI is that I've found competition results to be totally inxplicable, especially among adults. And it's been impossible to get any explanation from the judges. In a USFS event, I can generally guess from watching who the better skaters are, and then when the rersults come up, and I see who the judges are and where they put skaters (my events are generally under 6.0) and, from long aquaintance with the judges, I can figure out why. If I can't, I know I can ask the referee to ask the judges for feedback. The couple times I've tried that at ISI events, the only response has been "The panel says there were no deductions." which really isn't very helpful. Especially when I know I missed at least two of the required elements and spent a good fifteen seconds of the program sliding across the ice on my stomach so there was no reason for me to come in ahead of people who completed all the elements, at least that I could see. It was one of the few times I've been embarrassed to accept a medal. At least this event didn't have a fancy medal ceremony; they just handed out the medals when I picked up my music after skating. I still feel bad for the people I supposedly beat.

    I stick with USFS now, especially since I'm doing dance, even though my rink requires ISI membership. It just makes more sense to me But that could be because I know it better and find it easier to get consistant answers to my questions.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    Although club people kept trying to push me into Ice Dance, I persisted in figures and free skating, mainly because I didn't have a dance partner and the dance sessions weren't convenient for me...

    ... I stick with USFS now, especially since I'm doing dance...
    Solo or partnered?

  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjane45 View Post
    Solo or partnered?
    Solo.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    But for me the one glaring issue I have with ISI is that I've found competition results to be totally inxplicable, especially among adults.
    I haven't noticed this, I've found results at both ISI and USFS competitions to be baffling.

    For those that aren't familar with the system, ISI has coaches judge events, not official judges (for Basic Skills USFS, the judges are generally coaches or volunteers). You do have to pass a test on the rules to get a judge certification for ISI, and it is recommended you don't judge your own skaters, though it can happen (their stance is teachers grade their own students, so coaches should know how to be objective as well.)

    In ISI, each judge judges one or two things. For example, my coach, when she did her judging at ISI synchro nats was in charge of judging the pinwheel. No other element of the program mattered to her. Just the pinwheel. When I judged a local competition, I had to judge (I think) a toe loop and a pivot. I didn't care at all what else the skater did.

    When I judge USFSA Basic Skills (I'm not a real judge) we have a list of ALL the elements, which we make notes on, and then we give the skater an overall score (just a single one, since this is basic level, not real two score 6.0).

    So the ISI judging really doesn't take into account the whole program (though I think one person does do an 'artistic impression' score that is more holistic).

  14. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    Solo.
    Sweet!
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  15. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    Sweet!
    You haven't seen me dance. "Sweet" has never been used to describe what I do.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  16. #76
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    I was speaking of the MIF component that makes USFS superior. It's hard to believe that any ISI skater who reaches the higher freestyle ranks without taking MIF would be a better skater overall.

    I believe that the ISI testing structure is too easy. In most rinks you can test in front of your coach during a lesson, up until FS5-6 (I think)? With USFS you have to test in front of three judges, which is significantly harder, and if you can pass levels that way it says a lot about your abilities as a skater.

    Yes, the ISI FS 10 test is the hardest test. But you have to wonder why more senior-level USFS skaters, who can do triples, don't take the ISI 10 test. There have only been a handful of skaters to pass 10. If it was that important, more senior USFS skaters would be taking it. I bet that those skaters who pass FS 10 have also passed USFS Senior MIF and Senior FS, and are taking FS 10 just for an extra challenge after learning the basics.

    The fun factor is pretty subjective. I think USFS is funner because I'm learning more. USFS also has a lot of "fun" events like comedy/dramatic skate, and jump/spin/team events.

    Theoretically, you could learn all of the MIF outside of your ISI levels without testing MIF, but it comes down to motivation that testing provides. It would be like auditing college classes without getting the degree. Some people would be ok with this, but most would want the proof of a degree or passing a test as validation that you learned it.
    Last edited by leafygreens; 04-26-2013 at 04:56 PM.

  17. #77
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    Here is an example I found of what ISI does, and what skaters are able to accomplish: http://www.skateisi.com/site/sub.cfm...ecipients_2007
    http://www.skateisi.com/site/sub.cfm...strict_seminar
    Here are the test l;evels - note that ISI has figures which UFFSA abandoned for the much easier MIF series: http://www.skateisi.com/site/sub.cfm...requirements#7

    My suggestion is to fully research both USFSA and ISI before making any decisions. I have been doing it intensely for the last year, to figure out which direction I'd want to go if I decided to get active in more formal stuff.
    Last edited by treesprite; 05-09-2013 at 01:20 PM.

  18. #78

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    Correction: USFS has not "abandonned" figure tests. The tests are still available if anyone wants to take them and most of the older (40+) judges are willing and eager to judge them. Just last month I heard judges at a local competition excitedly talking about the 4th figure test they had been asked to judge at an upcoming test. Figures are just not required as part of the structure any more.

    But then neither are the ISI figure tests. They're a separate track.

    The problem with doing figures these days is finding coaches who know how to teach figures - and teach them correctly. I know my survey isn't scientific but when I asked the coaches at my local rinks about doing figures, all of the USFS coaches had passed at least their 4th test and some as high as 7th and 8th and were willing to teach figures to me. Of the ISI coaches only a couple had ever done figures as children, none taught them and several looked at me blankly as if they had no idea what I was talking about. "Oh, we don't do those anymore." was the most common response. But then, the ISI coaches in my area seem to be a lot younger than the USFS coaches. Make of that what you will.

    Personally I like figures. I did them for years and found them to be equal parts fascinating and frustrating. But I learned edges and turns and that knowledge has helped me ever since. I miss warming up with figures.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  19. #79
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    What is interesting to me is that while history shows the 2 organizations trying to work together and each making changes to try to balance out so skaters can have more opportunities, so many strictly-USFSA skaters seem to be at war with the ISI organization and would never consider doing an ISI competition, even though it is now possible to use the exact same program for both the USFSA comp and the corresponding ISI open FS comp.

    Perhaps some people think skating isn't simply the act of skating on ice, which is what could be the cause of this debate about skating "just for fun". Maybe their idea of fun is all the non-skating aspects of skating and not solely the skating in and of itself. Maybe some these people have some other secret motive for continuing to skate, like wanting to feel that they "belong" to something bigger than themselves, or wanting to prove themselves better than other people, or wanting to have some external disciplinary force to make up for a feeling of a lack of self-discipline. Seriously, if there were no more test sessions or competitions available, and no governing bodies, organizations, and all the bureaucracy they involve, would anyone who truly is serious about skating actually quit skating? Or would they all admit that they are serious about skating because they have fun skating, love how skating makes them feel, and have a happier life as a result of regularly stepping onto the ice and skating?

    The motivation to skate is the sheer love and joy of skating for me, not whether or not there are tests and how hard they are, or how competitions are judged. When I feel like I am close enough to my past skill level to do something in front of other people, I will consider competitions, but I'm not going to go by what organization is behind it or how it will be judged, just whether or not I'll enjoy myself skating in the particular competition social atmosphere which is presenting its opportunity to me. If I'm not going to enjoy something, why put myself through it when the only thing that could possibly be at stake if I don't place is shameful, shallow, momentary self-pride? But then again, I have already tested under both organizations at their comparable skill levels to one another (based on ISI now having open FS levels), which will give me that opportunity to use the same program for both.

    People who refuse to do ISI just because it isn't USFSA, with the mindset that the tests are not worthy simply because of how they are done, are throwing away a lot of opportunity to enter competitions to show off their skills and enjoy the social environment of it. This is completely self-defeating for those whose motivation to skate is the ability to compete, rather than to just to improve their quality of life by way of skating.

    My suggestion to adults who are never going to be heading to the Olympics but who really want to delve into the world of competition FS skating by giving themselves as many opportunities to compete as possible, is this: Get past USFSA adult bronze first, then, as ISI allows for USFSA members but not "strictly ISI" skaters, skip over all the ISI prerequisites and go straight to the open silver test. Then if they have a program to "skate up" to USFSA adult silver as allowed for adult bronze, they can use that very same program to skate in ISI open silver as well - same skill level, same program, far more opportunities to enter competitions without doubling the cost of doing it.
    Last edited by treesprite; 06-30-2013 at 02:57 PM.

  20. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by treesprite View Post
    When I feel like I am close enough to my past skill level to do something in front of other people, I will consider competitions, but I'm not going to go by what organization is behind it or how it will be judged, just whether or not I'll enjoy myself skating in the particular competition social atmosphere which is presenting its opportunity to me. If I'm not going to enjoy something, why put myself through it when the only thing that could possibly be at stake if I don't place is shameful, shallow, momentary self-pride?
    I'm not following this. Where exactly would shallow self-pride come into play here? Isn't not placing the same in either system? Presumably most adults compete in order to perform a program they worked hard on, regardless of what test structure gets them comfortable enough to reach that point.
    Last edited by ioana; 06-30-2013 at 05:08 PM.

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