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ISI VS. USFSA Basic Skills

Discussion in 'Moves In The Field' started by Rukia, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Rukia

    Rukia Currently in the 7th circle of Feelin Good

    So when I started taking lessons, another woman in my class and I decided we needed a goal to work towards. Our coach told us there was an ISI competition locally this summer, so we decided we were going to compete in it. We've been having so much fun we decided to look into more competitions. However, there's not a lot of ISI competitions to choose from. So I looked and saw there are quite a few USFSA basic skills competitions around here. However, my coach has always done ISI at lower levels, so she's not as familiar with the basic skills structure (and she doesn't really like how their levels are set up).

    So I thought I would see if any of you are more familiar with it. I have lots of questions really. Are adults typically allowed in basic skills, or are they expected to do USFSA's adult track? How is testing levels done? Is it like informal testing we have had for ISI (ie my coach did mine in a lesson)? Is it frowned upon to do both ISI and USFSA competitions? I'm just looking for options for us, and I know my coach would really be game for anything we want to do. Thanks for any and all information!
  2. LilJen

    LilJen Reaching out with my hand sensitively

    Adults ABSOLUTELY are allowed in ISI!!! ISI is a lot of fun and a lot more laid back than USFS. (Well, maybe it's that we adults--who KNOW we'll never win an OGM--are more laid back.)

    ISI offers a lot of variety in terms of competitive events. At lower levels, ISI testing is done simply with your coach watching you do the elements and then filing the paperwork with ISI. Membership is about $15/year, I think.

    I have done both, and there are pros and cons to both. ISI: I get to do stuff like footwork programs :) and jump/spin teams. And ISI comps are cheaper. USFS: There are more 'real' competitions, at least in my area, and testing in the USFS test stream is MUCH more extensive than with ISI. If I had stuck with just ISI I'd probably be much higher because I could fudge the footwork stuff and just spend all my time doing freestyle. Maybe.
  3. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Well-Known Member

    We do both ISI and USFS. It's not frowned on at all and very common in my area to do both. Our coach had testing/paperwork etc to coach USFS and become a member before she started USFS competitions but I don't know if that starts in basic skills or at a higher level or what work it entailed on her part.
  4. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    I know more about USFS, including Basic Skills, than I know about ISI, so I'll only address that part of it.

    Here are announcements for a couple of upcoming Basic Skills competitions in my part of the country:

    They don't mention adults or age groups in the event descriptions, but they do ask for your age on the entry form. If you signed up and no other adult did, they'd probably ask if you want to compete against kids or get your money back. If you and your friend both signed up for the same level, they'd probably put the two of you in an event of your own.

    What's your skill level?
    Basic Skills includes levels from Basic 1 to Basic 8 and Freestyle 1 to Freestyle 6. There is also an adult basic skills curriculum that covers most of the Basic 1-8 skills in four badge levels instead of eight (http://www.usfigureskating.org/Content/AdultCurriculum.pdf), but it's pretty rare to see classes or competitions offered for adults.

    The Basic Skills classes and events are structured so that skaters learn a few new skills at each level and then move on to add more; each basic level would take a few months to move through if you're taking classes and practicing regularly; the freestyle levels would probably take longer especially for adults. Freestyle 6 is approximately equal to ISI Freestyle 5, although it doesn't require a clean axel -- by the time skaters get to that level they're ready to move out of Basic Skills and into the standard USFS test and competition structure.

    The competitions usually offer compulsory moves (just the skills from that test level in isolation), freeskating (program to music that expect those skills and lower/uncaptured moves), and artistic.

    The Basic Skills testing is similarly informal. You would need to register with USFS as a Basic Skills member or as a full member and have a Basic Skills instructor/program director pass you through each level.

    If you're more interested in joining the USFS adult skating community beyond the basic levels, or if it's easier for you to find regular USFS competition that offers adult levels, you might want to enter an adult competition at the Pre-Bronze level (most events will let you "skate up" to this level even if you haven't passed any tests -- but make sure you feel ready for it).

    See the bottom of the second page of this chart for what's allowed/expected in Pre-Bronze freestyle competition. You might also want to search youtube for examples of skaters testing and competing at that level.

    You would, however, need to be a full member of USFS to enter a standard adult competition.

    If you do feel ready to compete at that level, you might also want to look into passing the Pre-Bronze tests.

    See pp. 14, 23, and 120-125 of the tests book for the content of the Pre-Bronze moves in the field and freestyle tests.

    General adult skating information:
  5. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    If there are two of you at the same level and you don't see it listed in the competition announcement, it never hurts to call the competition chair and ask them to add your event. Generally, if they have time, they will.

    Of course, then you both have to show up and skate. (Nothing ticks off a chair like going out of their way to accommodate a request and then having the skater scratch or just not show up.)
  6. Rukia

    Rukia Currently in the 7th circle of Feelin Good

    Thanks for all the info gkelly! That helps a lot. I'm currently ISI Gamma/Delta, but I can't really tell where I am in basic skills because that includes some things ISI doesn't. If I were to hazard a guess I'd say 5-7 ish (I've covered most of 5 and 6, parts of 7 and 8). Does the person passing you off on your tests have to be specifically registered in basic skills or just USFSA in general? I know my coach can coach at USFSA stuff (in fact, she's doing it this weekend), she just doesn't know a whole lot about the basic skills program. Oh well, this gives me a lot of info. Thanks to everyone!
  7. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure of the details.

    Here's the main Basic Skills page. Maybe that page or at some of the links will have the answers to your questions.

    Or just go ahead and contact Susi Wehrli-McLaughlin (contact info given at that page). She should be able to give you the right answers or point you in the right direction.
  8. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    In order to compete at a USFS Basic skills competitions, you HAVE to be a registered Basic Skills member and the only way to do through a Basic Skills program.

    OTOH, Basic Skills tests are not recorded anywhere outside of the club, so once you have the membership, your test level is a matter of honesty.
  9. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    I skated mostly ISI and a minimal amount of USFSA before Basic Skills (BSS) was introduced. I've taught group/private lessons and coached competition skaters in both programs.

    If you plan to compete, the ISI's testing is more formal than the USFSA BSS. The ISI requires that competitor tests be documented and recorded by ISI Headquarters, plus you have to become a member of the ISI. (ISI Membership is affordable and test registration is free, but some rinks charge a service fee anyway.)

    USFSA BSS competitions do require a USFSA membership, which can be through a Club, as an individual or through a Basic Skills program. The Basic Skills program membership is the least expensive option at less than $15/year. Those tests don't have to be registered, so your coach can test you informally, just to figure out what level you've mastered fully.

    However, I've never see Adults entered in the Basic 1-8 or Freeskate events at a BSS competition. It's not against the rules (check with Susie @ USFSA) but no adults ever register for those levels.

    Typically, lower-level adult skaters register for the "Adult 1-4" events which are very different than the Basic/Freeskate levels; there are far fewer jumps and spins in those levels. Given your current level, you'll do fine in Adult.

    I've had several adults in Basic/Freeskate levels and they've progressed far faster than the skaters in the Adult groups because the Basic skill sets are laid out very logically. The Adult curriculum has many gaps in skill progressions and it contains very few freestyle skating elements. It seems more geared towards Ice Dancing than Freestyle. (I have had several men in Adult groups that want to move onto Hockey; I instead use the USA Hockey curriculum for them - it's just silly to teach them progressives and chasses, lol.)

    Having taught both ISI and BSS, BSS is more geared towards progressing the skater through skills quickly so that they can go on to private lessons, skating clubs and the formal test/competition structure. The ISI wasn't intended to get skaters to the top levels quickly; it's a rink-run program designed to keep skaters challenged while they learn. The highest levels are very difficult, but truthfully, those are the skills you see many elite skaters doing in their programs, including jumps and spins in opposite directions.

    From my point of view, BSS is structured better with more interesting elements. The restrictions on skills in BSS competitions keep the playing field level, but the ISI goes further than the USFSA by implementing education and testing to make sure the coaches know the restrictions and requirements. Both are far less expensive and stressful than the formal USFSA test/competition structure. BSS could be a really fun environment for adults, if the USFSA were willing to specify that the existing age groups for the Adult structure be applied to BSS Basic/Freeskate competition categories. At that point, adults could start registering in the Basic and Freeskate levels in competitions without being relegated to the Adult events, which are usually "against the book." Even if they were "against the book" in "Basic 6/21-30", at least they'd be mainstreamed and skate with the other Basic 6-level skaters.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012