Unexpected Fail

sk8r2021

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My daughter failed a move test. The hard part is that it can’t be explained. She was over prepared. The test originally was before *********, but cancelled for lockdown. After rink reopened, we couldn’t get into test because it filled quickly. During this time, she was keeping practicing and having lessons. Her coach said she was very ready several times. After another 7 month, we finally get into test. She skated normally in the test, no mistake. Her coach said it’s a strong test. Then when paper came out, she failed. The coach only said “Ridiculous!”. Our coach is not a newbie. She has many students of higher level than my daughter. That’s just so odd. Any opinion?
 
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MacMadame

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Most likely there was something on the test she did incorrectly. So it looked good but was the wrong move.

However, the test forms should explain why she failed. They don't just say "Failed." They have comments. What did they say?
 

Debbie S

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Read the comments?

Sometimes, the judges just don't think a test is passing. Particularly with Novice and up (are you in the U.S.?). They don't just want the moves done well, they want a certain performance level. If the judges are local, maybe your coach could ask one to come to the rink to watch and offer a critique (if it's allowed).
 

sk8r2021

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For all above, Novice in US. Yes, judges wrote many comments here and there, most are about performance, not smooth, ...etc. But our coach thinks it's bullshit. She said her students skated less well passed before. Well, she is experienced and worked well before this test. So I don't feel that their opinions should be SO MUCH different.
 

Debbie S

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For all above, Novice in US. Yes, judges wrote many comments here and there, most are about performance, not smooth, ...etc. But our coach thinks it's bullshit. She said her students skated less well passed before. Well, she is experienced and worked well before this test. So I don't feel that their opinions should be SO MUCH different.
Well, for starters, the judges might not be the exact same judges who judged those other skaters you are referring to. And even if so, it sounds like the moves were technically OK but they were looking for more speed, confidence, etc. Any sign of fear or tentativeness dooms a Novice or higher test.
 

MacMadame

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For all above, Novice in US. Yes, judges wrote many comments here and there, most are about performance, not smooth, ...etc. But our coach thinks it's bullshit. She said her students skated less well passed before. Well, she is experienced and worked well before this test. So I don't feel that their opinions should be SO MUCH different.
This happens sometimes. Judging is not an exact science and you generally only have 3 people judging tests. I would just shrug it off and take the test again when you can. Most likely she'll pass easily.
 

sk8r2021

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You probably got something. But it's still hard to see they deduct so many points. As an experienced coach, she should be able to tell if my daughter's performance was not good. Bur she didn't mention it. Yes, it's not science. But this is too subjective.
 

MacMadame

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You probably got something. But it's still hard to see they deduct so many points. As an experienced coach, she should be able to tell if my daughter's performance was not good. Bur she didn't mention it. Yes, it's not science. But this is too subjective.
Sometimes a particular panel is harder than average and sometimes coaches disagree with the panel.
 

sk8r2021

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Thanks, McMadame and overedge. It's really hard to shrug it off. Now we have to wait for test in Aug because all tests are full till the end of this skating year. This test takes too long time! If she can't master a technical skill, that's even better. This is like you don't know what's wrong. You have to keep practicing but don't know what's happening next time.
 

AxelAnnie

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For all above, Novice in US. Yes, judges wrote many comments here and there, most are about performance, not smooth, ...etc. But our coach thinks it's bullshit. She said her students skated less well passed before. Well, she is experienced and worked well before this test. So I don't feel that their opinions should be SO MUCH different.
Maybe you need a different coach!
There is so much (opinion) that goes into judging a judged sport. What was acceptable last year may have been superseded by new/different standards.

Navigating all that, and putting together the elements of the test so that it meets and exceeds the criterion should be the coache's job.

And sometimes it is just not fair.
 

overedge

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You probably got something. But it's still hard to see they deduct so many points. As an experienced coach, she should be able to tell if my daughter's performance was not good. Bur she didn't mention it. Yes, it's not science. But this is too subjective.

The coach may have been just as surprised at the results as you and your skater were. It doesn't mean they're a bad coach because they weren't able to predict the outcome.

Sometimes judging panels do weird things. There was a dance judge in my area who used to be a competitive ice dancer, and didn't get as far as a competitor as they had hoped to (they explicitly said this to other judges). I think they were taking out that frustration in their judging. They were incredibly tough on ice dance tests, even for lower level tests that were supposed to encourage skaters to continue rather than push them out of the sport. If you got this judge you just kind of accepted that you were probably going to fail, no matter how well prepared you were, and you did the test for the experience.

Judges almost always want to see skaters do well in tests. It makes their job easier, and they like to support skaters and encourage them. If a panel fails a skater, it doesn't mean the coach or the skater didn't do a good job preparing for the test. It isn't good for a coach's reputation to put skaters up for a test if the skaters are genuinely not ready to take the test.

It's frustrating to fail, because it’s a subjective process, but the marks and the comments should indicate what the judges think the skater should work on for next time. The skater may not feel the marks reflect how they felt they performed, but the feedback lets them know what the judges saw. And that's what is passed or failed.
 
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fan

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are you at a high level club? ie skating club of boston, skating club of ny? sometimes judges hold these clubs to higher standards. I know that at the cricket club in toronto, judges know it's an elite training centre and expect tests to be at a higher level than an average skating club. perhaps they were expecting junior level quality for a novice test? i'm not saying it's right, but it does happen.
a little fail can often be a good motivator. i know that in life, i've learned more from things i've not done successfully at the first try, than things i have.
 

sk8girl

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are you at a high level club? ie skating club of boston, skating club of ny? sometimes judges hold these clubs to higher standards. I know that at the cricket club in toronto, judges know it's an elite training centre and expect tests to be at a higher level than an average skating club. perhaps they were expecting junior level quality for a novice test? i'm not saying it's right, but it does happen.
This is very true. My club isn't nearly at the level of the Cricket Club, but it has a competitive program and is the biggest club in our area, while most other nearby clubs are more recreational with mostly lower level skaters. It is common knowledge among our skaters and coaches that it is harder to pass a test at our club, because we are held to higher standards (even for lower recreational-level tests). No, this shouldn't happen, but everyone agrees that it does. People will have a decent test fail at our club, then retry and pass it at one of the smaller clubs in the area, with a similar skate. Of course, this totally depends on the judge you get too...
 

MacMadame

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Sometimes judging panels do weird things. There was a dance judge in my area who used to be a competitive ice dancer, and didn't get as far as a competitor as they had hoped to (they explicitly said this to other judges). I think they were taking out that frustration in their judging. They were incredibly tough on ice dance tests, even for lower level tests that were supposed to encourage skaters to continue rather than push them out of the sport.
We had a judge who hated adult skaters. If he was judging, you'd get a fail from him pretty much no matter what you did. Usually, there were two other judges who were reasonable and it worked out but if you were on the bubble, then it only took one other judge to fail the test. My philosophy was: if I was on the bubble, it would be good to work on the test some more, and maybe another, more reasonable judge would have failed me too.
 

Aussie Willy

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From a judge's POV, my first suggestion is to ask for feedback from the panel. They should be able to explain why the test failed. Sounds like you got the form and it explained why the test didn't pass but you and the coach don't agree with it. I would move on and work towards the next test session.

Secondly judges just don't fail tests for no reason. We had a situation years ago where skaters kept getting put up for tests but they failed. We then got the coaches to then sign off to say the student was ready to test. But that still doesn't mean the skater is going to put forward a test that is passable. I have judged some really poor quality tests and that coach would have signed off on it. In fact it makes me quite angry to see skaters who put forward for tests that they are doing it "just to see what the judges say". It is a waste of my time and they might have taken the place of a skater who couldn't get in because the session was full.

Also coaches are not judges. Over the years I have heard many comments from various coaches about skaters passing or failing tests. But the coach is not the one judging the test. The judges are. But I know that sometimes coaches go beyond the line of professionalism and take a skater not passing personally and a reflection of them. I have had that happen too. Not saying it is always the case, but it happens. I think for the coach to use the BS word is not professional.

I know as a judge I want to pass tests. But the skater will pass or fail themselves. My job is to verify they have demonstrated competency and met the standard.
 

overedge

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Thanks, McMadame and overedge. It's really hard to shrug it off. Now we have to wait for test in Aug because all tests are full till the end of this skating year. This test takes too long time! If she can't master a technical skill, that's even better. This is like you don't know what's wrong. You have to keep practicing but don't know what's happening next time.

When you say it is "too long" until the next test, please remember that the judges and officials are volunteering their time to be at the test sessions. And so are the people at the skating club(s) that are organizing and hosting the tests. There may also be judges and officials who would usually be judging or officiating, but who may not feel safe being in a rink during a p*nd*m*c. Any club that is able to put on a test session right now is doing that under very unusual and difficult circumstances.

Because of the p*nd*m*c, there are also many clubs that have little or no ice time, and there are many skaters that are not able to skate, train or test at all. Honestly your skater is very lucky to be able to train and to take tests right now. Please keep that in mind.
 
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misskarne

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Not just coaches who put forward skaters who are not ready, as Aussie Willy says. But also parents who refuse to accept that their angel may not have been perfect on the day. And it does not take much reading between the lines in this thread to make me question if we have such a parent here. The total dismissiveness of the comments on the sheet, the complete acceptance of the coach's apparent remark that it was "bullshit", the lack of seeking of feedback from the judges...seems we have a parent that has decided it is easiest to blame the judges than accept that perhaps their child was not good enough on the day.
 

Lacey

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I might be a little bit confused, but I think you said future test sessions were already full. Does that mean that skaters can be signed up, for example, for more than one test session, saying let's try every month, and, after 6 or 12 tries surely we will pass. To me, that is not fair to other skaters, like you, who need to therefore wait months for the next available test session--puts the burden unfairly on the next skater. And perhaps causes judges to be mad at seeing same old failures each and every month, so they can't judge with clear eyes. (This may or may not have been the case with your skater's test, obviously I don't know, just a different angle.)

One of my daughter's skated up through all but two of the International Dances, over Gold, and she only signed up each month, one by one.
 
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gkelly

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I might be a little bit confused, but I think you said future test sessions were already full. Does that mean that skaters can be signed up, for example, for more than one test session, saying let's try every month, and, after 6 or 12 tries surely we will pass. To me, that is not fair to other skaters, like you, who need to therefore wait months for the next available test session--puts the burden unfairly on the next skater. And perhaps causes judges to be mad at seeing same old failures each and every month, so they can't judge with clear eyes. (This may or may not have been the case with your skater's test, obviously I don't know, just a different angle.)

One of my daughter's skated up through all but two of the International Dances, over Gold, and she only signed up each month, one by one.


I can't speak to sk8r2021's situation, but I can say that in my club, the demand for testing usually exceeds the available ice time, often by quite a lot. So if the club opens registration for, say, three test sessions in upcoming months, they may all fill up with skaters trying to test at least once within the near future. Some skaters sign up for more than one test -- usually in different disciplines (MIF, freeskating, dance), but sometimes a skater is ready to test up two levels in the same discipline so they sign up for the lower level at the next available test session and for the next level a month or two after that.

This has been especially true in the past year, when availability of test sessions has been sporadic due to rink closures or restrictions.

So it's entirely possible for test sessions to be filled up several months in advance without anybody signing up for the same test more than once.
 

sk8r2021

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For Aussie Willy:

First, thank you for the information from your perspective. I never know any judge. So it's good to know the other side. Second, my post was not to shame on judges or coach. Or else, I won’t ask what others think. As I said, it’s odd. So I wonder who had similar experience or have any clue. That’s why I asked here. As you can see from replies, some people heard of some tough judges, while some had doubts on my coach. But the intention was not to accuse judges. I am sorry that the case you mentioned is not my case. My coach never sign a student if she doesn't think she is ready. Well, my coach didn’t say BS word either. That's my understanding. What she said was "ridiculous". She is a well-respected coach with national medalist students. That’s why I don’t understand why her opinion and judges’ opinions were so different this time. If people feel bad about my coach due to my post, that’s my fault, not hers. Anyway, no matter how people interpret from different ways, the only thing my daughter should do now is to improve.
 
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sk8r2021

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Lacey, we are a large club and only have about 4 tests each year. Tests get full immediately when they are first open. So we already know that the rest tests are full. The earliest session we can try to sign up is Aug, although no guarantee.
 
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MacMadame

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No, we do have waiting list policies, such as, if you failed before, priority goes to the ones who never tried before. If you want to test more than 1 test, for example MIF and FS, priority goes to the ones who only sign for 1 test. It's quite complicated. But right now, the test session got full immediately because we are a large club and lack tests. The test in June got full immediately back in March when it's first open. But even if the test is not full, we may not get into them. The earliest session we can try to sign up is Aug, although no guarantee.
Yeah, this has been a crazy year. Normally the clubs around here run test sessions all the time so that, if you fail a test, you can take it again a month later (I think that's the waiting period) either with your club or another one. But that was in the Before Times.
 

sk8r2021

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Misskarne, sorry to give you that impression. My emotion might be strong at that time because it's so unexpected. If my daughter generally failed a test, I won’t. But for a test that she was said to prepare very well, it is a surprise to fail, isn't it?

I just realized it might not be a good idea to discuss this specific case online, because there are many details that aren’t explained. For example, my coach was not rude. She was too surprised, and it never happened before. But it seems to point at the judges although no one knows the judges on that day, which might be unfair. It’s odd but happened. I don’t know why. But one thing is true is that all she can do is to keep practicing.
 
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overedge

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But it seems to point at the judges although no one knows the judges on that day, which might be unfair. It’s odd but happened. I don’t know why. But one thing is true is that all she can do is to keep practicing.

As someone already said, the coach is not a judge. The coach can prepare the skater for the test, but the coach is not judging the test. The judges don't know the skater as well as the coach does, and the judges haven't seen the skater do the elements in the test for months and months like the coach has. So it's not all that odd that the coach and the judges might have different opinions on how the skater performed in the test.

The sheet that your skater got from the judges after the test should have marks on it and have written comments from the judges as well. You, your skater, or your coach might disagree with the marks or the comments, but those represent what the judges saw and how they evaluated the skater's performance. So when your skater is practicing for the next test, she and her coach should be looking at those marks and comments from the judges, and focusing on the parts of the test where the judges suggested improvements.
 
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Aussie Willy

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For Aussie Willy:

First, thank you for the information from your perspective. I never know any judge. So it's good to know the other side. Second, my post was not to shame on judges or coach. Or else, I won’t ask what others think. As I said, it’s odd. So I wonder who had similar experience or have any clue. That’s why I asked here. As you can see from replies, some people heard of some tough judges, while some had doubts on my coach. But the intention was not to accuse judges. I am sorry that the case you mentioned is not my case. My coach never sign a student if she doesn't think she is ready. Well, my coach didn’t say BS word either. That's my understanding. What she said was "ridiculous". She is a well-respected coach with national medalist students. That’s why I don’t understand why her opinion and judges’ opinions were so different this time. If people feel bad about my coach due to my post, that’s my fault, not hers. Anyway, no matter how people interpret from different ways, the only thing my daughter should do now is to improve.
Thank you for your reply.

There are all different types of judges, coaches and skaters. You can never put them in the same bucket. But I think part of the problem we have in the sport is that there can be such a disconnect between the three. You don't have to be friends with the judges, but it is worth at least talking to them. I know when I was skating myself as an adult, I had certain experiences which probably clouded my judgement of them. But I never thought that any of them were biased or judged me unfairly. In fact I got peeved because the feedback I got for one test was "That was the worst groups of tests we have seen but we will pass then anyway. I asked "Well if I was so bad why did you pass me". He actually said I did the best test I was just very slow (it was my first test). This person was an international judge who later on when I started judging was a very nice man and had some great stories to tell about his time judging at worlds and olympics. He has since passed away.
 
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AxelAnnie

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Misskarne, sorry to give you that impression. My emotion might be strong at that time because it's so unexpected. If my daughter generally failed a test, I won’t. But for a test that she was said to prepare very well, it is a surprise to fail, isn't it?

I just realized it might not be a good idea to discuss this specific case online, because there are many details that aren’t explained. For example, my coach was not rude. She was too surprised, and it never happened before. But it seems to point at the judges although no one knows the judges on that day, which might be unfair. It’s odd but happened. I don’t know why. But one thing is true is that all she can do is to keep practicing.
I have no direct experience in this area. It would seem to me, though that failing a test you are prepared for is no different than bombing a program at Nationals.

And skating is a subjectively judged sport as is Gymnastics and Riding, (not jumpers which measures speed poles that are knocked down.

I do know about riding. You just have to take your lumps. The judge may like a horse that got a wrong lead change and score that person more than you....who did everything correctly. Shoot, if a judge sold you the horse, you can be sure that you will get a good score. And my favorite....they don't like the color of your horse.

I have watched both my kids ride, and have a better round than another person, and the other person wins.

As a parent, it is difficult, heartbreaking, and unfair. But it is what it is. There is a sign that is part of the archway as you enter the property where I ride: "Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn". Yep.
 
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Lil Sarah

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Lacey, we are a large club and only have about 4 tests each year. Tests get full immediately when they are first open. So we already know that the rest tests are full. The earliest session we can try to sign up is Aug, although no guarantee.
Are there other clubs around that are still open / having test days? I know around here it is normal to test at other clubs if there is room. You pay an extra "guest" fee usually but it is well worth it.

I am currently one of those who hasn't been able to train since December because all of the rinks closed due to lockdown and haven't opened again yet, so I am just jealous anyone is skating!
 

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