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  1. #1

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    "Mock" Competitions and/or Judge's Critiques - How to set one up?

    I've seen some clubs that hold "mock" competitions, and I really like the idea. However, I am not sure about all the ins and outs about setting one up.

    Basically, the club sets aside one or two hours of ice and members sign-up as they would for a competition. The skaters are put into warm-up groups, they perform their competitive programs, and possibly, it is combined with a judge's critique.

    The idea is to give skaters a feel of competition so that they can "practice" competing, while additionally getting feedback on their performance. The skaters usually pay an entry fee (although, I'm guessing the club subsidizes the ice rental fees). It's a good way to practice competing and get feedback without the higher cost of entering competitions.

    But, before I begin the process of setting up something like this for next year, I'm wondering whether anyone has any experience doing something like this. I'm looking for some BTDT advice and experience so I'm not making too many mistakes right off the bat.

    I am currently our club's test chair, so I have some experience in acquiring judges and wrangling skaters. :-)

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Hmm. I haven't directly set one up myself, but I've been involved with them "on the day".

    A couple of things off the top of my head:
    - As you note, ice rental costs are a big factor. Time of day is also important. Parents that would pull their kids out of school for a real competition or test may be reluctant to do so if it's "only" a simulation. Some clubs get around this problem by having the mock competition on a weekend or on a statutory holiday, but families may already have other plans for that time. As you probably know by now, you will get whining from someone no matter what time is chosen but I would suggest a mid-week late afternoon or early evening. If the club has to cancel a session to do the mock competition, it can help reduce the whining if it's a session that most of the competitors would be on anyway.

    - In addition to judges and skaters, you'll also need ice monitors, runners, music players, etc. Pretty much the same staffing as a test day. So I would make sure you could get those participants as well before scheduling the event.

    - It's extremely helpful to have judges who are not from your club or who haven't seen much of the skaters before.

    - Be very firm about the deadline for registering, and make it clear that there are no drop-ins or buy-ons.

    - Try to schedule the competitors as they probably would be in a competition, i.e. little ones/prelim levels first, and more senior/advanced skaters later on.

    Hope that helps at least to get you thinking...
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  3. #3

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    One thing I've seen done is to have, in addition to the critique judges, seats set up for skaters to "trial judge" the skaters and see how well they can match the real judges' scores. This hopefully gives the skaters a realistic idea about how difficult it is to be a judge and also maybe get one or two interested in becoming one.

    I've also seen clubs take a more casual approach by having all the judges be skaters and coaches, while having just one official judge do the critiques off to the side, or not have critiques at all. In the latter case, the purpose is more to give skaters the feeling of a competition: how to handle the brief warm-up and what do while between the time the warm-up ends and the time to actually skate, how to face the judges stand and even what it's like to skate on empty ice in front of a crowd. It all depends on what levels of skaters you have and how many have competed before.

    You can make it as formal or informal as you like, depending upon the goals of the people involved.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  4. #4

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    The learn to skate program at our rink here at the end of term runs a small competition for the Rising Stars program. We use a different criteria from the regular one which we write on sheets to give feedback to the skaters and mark various aspects just out of 10. The skaters don't do a formal program but have a group of elements that they need to perform. When we run it one judge looks at the elements and the other judge looks at skating skills, presentation, use of music, etc. It is really informal. Also there is just a couple of pieces of music (usually fast or slow) that they can select from so they don't have to worry about that.

    The skaters are also grouped depending what level they are.

    Please PM me and I can see if I can get a copy of the judging sheets that we use.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  5. #5
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    I've participated in pre-competition exhibitions for charity, where we skate our competition programs and it benefits someone. In the one I did, all the profit was donated to a local autism group, and they had a silent auction. The audience were non-skaters (I have no idea how she advertised it), and it was great to be able to put a program out in front of strangers.

    A synchro program I sometimes skate with just did an exhibition of their competition programs, asking for donations for an injured hockey player instead of ticket charges.

    It's nice if you can combine skaters being able to get their programs out there with a charitable act.

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    Wow! Thank you! Great feedback and advice!

    I like the idea of occasionally making it a charitable event. LOVE the trial judge idea! Maybe we could combine it with an on/off-ice "Understanding IJS" class during a camp.

    As you probably know by now, you will get whining from someone no matter what time is chosen
    Amen.

    And Aussie Willy, I'd love to have copies of the judging sheet. I'll PM you.

  7. #7

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    sk8er1964's comment reminds me that some clubs in my area do a simulation/send-off event, where the skaters going to a competition do their programs to show them off before they leave. There is a judging panel to give the skaters feedback, and it's a chance for the skaters' friends and families who can't go to the event to see the programs performed and to cheer for their skaters. If there's an entry fee charged (usually just a couple of dollars), the funds that are raised are used to offset the costs of going to the competition. Not quite as noble a cause as what sk8er1964 describes, but it can certainly help the skaters for competitions where it's expensive to enter or to get there.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  8. #8

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    We do that for our skaters going to Nationals. Basically a training session but judges are there to provide feedback.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  9. #9
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    How do you fake a Competition?

  10. #10

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    You have judges and a schedule like in a competition, it takes place in an ice rink, the skaters get warm-up times and get their names announced and their music played just like they would in a competition, and the skaters do their competitive programs. And hopefully there are people in the audience to watch as well!

    Basically you have a session at the ice rink that's set up and run just like a competition would be. The only difference is that there aren't "winners", and there aren't any medals or other prizes. The judges give comments and sometimes marks as well to the skaters, and they are supposed to be the same kind of comments or marks that the judges would give in a real competition. But the comments and marks don't count for anything - they are supposed to help the skaters improve their programs or their performance before the skaters participate in a real competition. It also helps the skaters to know what being in a real competition feels like, so they might be less scared or nervous when they go in a real competition.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  11. #11

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    Yes, we want to do everything except hand out awards. We want the feel of a competition--something just enough to get kids' hearts pumping and get the feel of skating under pressure similar to a competition, except without the expense/travel/time off school. It can't take the place of getting used to everything that goes on under actual competition conditions, of course.

    But with my own kiddo, I can see that there's a gradual step up in first learning a jump or element, then putting it in a program, then completing that element under competition pressure. Again, I'm mostly looking at this as a money saving way to help kids get close to that competition pressure.

  12. #12

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    So it doesn't matter if there are other skaters in the same event to compete against.

    Will you be offering this opportunity to nonqualifying levels judged under 6.0, as well as to the IJS levels?

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    So this is basicly a Training Competition for Skaters to prepare them for the real thing,right?

  14. #14

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    So it doesn't matter if there are other skaters in the same event to compete against.
    No. I mean, I haven't put one together yet, but we wouldn't have complete flights of kids at the same level. As close as possible so warm-ups aren't a disaster. But, I'm just thinking of my own kiddo...it took a lot of competitions before she got comfortable skating at any place in the line-up. Some skaters just have that innate focus, it seems. Other kids get rattled by something new and need to try it a few times before they feel comfortable. Again, it's cheaper to get that experience in a pretend competition.

    I used to joke that we should put three parents with clipboards in the hockey box during freestyle, just to get kids used to having judges there during test sessions. I guess skaters have done well without it for year, but again, we've been to enough competitions that turned out to be expensive "learning experiences"...how to handle losing your place on the ice, how to compete when your last practice ice was 4 hours ago, etc.

    Will you be offering this opportunity to nonqualifying levels judged under 6.0, as well as to the IJS levels?
    I suppose we could. I'll have to think about that. I remember my daughter's first Basic Skills competition and how frazzled we both were, thinking it was a huge deal. I try not to be condescending now and think, "That pressure was nothing compared to IJS or skating at Liberty or Regionals." But it is a big deal to those kids and parents. I know kids do fine without having practice competitions or critiques, but if it does help enough kids bridge a gap or build confidence, then let's try it.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by FSWer View Post
    So this is basicly a Training Competition for Skaters to prepare them for the real thing,right?
    Yes. Although it's not really a competition because there are no results (like first place, second place and so on) and no awards or trophies.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  16. #16

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    Depending upon how large your club is, you could have a "real" in-house club competition with judges, marks and awards for members only. I know a few of the bigger clubs do this, more for fun than for the experience of competing but it could be done fairly easily, especially if you stick with 6.0 test-style marking. I know one club that uses partipation in an in-house comp to help skaters who can't do a lot of travelling to earn "show points" that help determine who gets solo spots in the annual show. But it all depends on how elaborate or structured you want want the event to be.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

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