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Thread: Those who compete USFSA--what do you think?

  1. #1
    Salchows and Shimmies!!!
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    Those who compete USFSA--what do you think?

    A buddy and I were at Freestyle together yesterday, and we got to talking. We both train ISI and compete (against each other, too!!)--we're now at Freestyle 2/3 level. We both love ISI comps, they are relaxing and fun, and we plan to test USFSA, but we're both somewhat ambivalent about competing USFSA. We've seen and heard about so many problems with the judging and we've seen abuses of the system. Those of you who compete USFSA--what do you think? Does it work well for you? What have you experienced?

    Thanks in advance!!!

  2. #2
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    Well of course you're talking about two completely different animals altogether. Both serve their purpose, but I don't really understand the adult skaters that want to compete USFSA. I appreciate that the USFSA recognizes adult skaters, but if you're competing as an adult, why not just go the chaeper and less snarky route of ISI? A lot of the adults around here look down on the ISI and feel the USFSA is the more legitimate organization, but I think they're nuts. They're never going to be elite skaters, what does it matter what program they test/compete through? LOL

    I respect both organizations, but I've seen and heard too many downright ugly things at adult comps where I was volunteering and if I had the inclination to ever compete again, I wouldn't be going through the USFSA to do it. That's JMO. I understand the adults themselves have a wonderful time of it and if you want to do it, by all means go ahead. You might love it and never look back. You might abandon ISI altogether.

  3. #3
    Salchows and Shimmies!!!
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    I think one thing that struck me was at MidAtlantics this years. One of our adult skaters was dying to go back and compete again--last year she skated really well but was placed well below skaters who made mistakes (most from New York clubs...gee, you think that had anything to do with it????). She was eager to go back and prove herself this year--but guess, what? They completely CANCELLED the adult event to have a memorial exhibition for Will Sears, the young pairs skater who died suddently last year. Now, I think that's a great thing to do and all, but of course, the adults get the shaft. Geez, maybe we could have NOT had FIFTEEN GROUPS of both "No Test" and "Pre-Preliminary" Girls and had an adult event? But to me, that's the USFSA's attitude. They care about "up and comers" and potential elite skaters, adults aren't going to make Worlds/Olympics and bring them TV revenues, so the heck with them. I know that attitude might sound really snarky, but that's what I've seen.

    Last edited by Yazmeen; 09-22-2003 at 01:45 PM.

  4. #4
    In love with the axel!
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    Originally posted by Yazmeen
    I think one thing that struck me was at MidAtlantics this years. One of our adult skaters was dying to go back and compete again--last year she skated really well but was placed well below skaters who made mistakes (most from New York clubs...gee, you think that had anything to do with it????). She was eager to go back and prove herself this year--but guess, what? They completely CANCELLED the adult event to have a memorial exhibition for Will Sears, the young pairs skater who died suddently last year. Now, I think that's a great thing to do and all, but of course, the adults get the shaft. Geez, maybe we could have NOT had FIFTEEN GROUPS of both "No Test" and "Pre-Preliminary" Girls and had an adult event? But to me, that's the USFSA's attitude. They care about "up and comers" and potential elite skaters, adults aren't going to make Worlds/Olympics and bring them TV revenues, so the heck with them. I know that attitude might sound really snarky, but that's what I've seen.
    The scheduling thing is the club's fault, not the USFSA's fault.

    I did both ISIA and USFSA as a kid, but am doing only USFSA as an adult. Most of the clubs around here are USFSA clubs. I've been to two adult-only competitions (Sectionals and Adult Nationals) and two mixed competitions in the year and 1/2 that I've been back on the ice. All of these competitions were very good experiences. The judges were honest, as far as I could tell, and the fellow competitors and host clubs were great. I have noticed that the judges will reward adults with better overall skating skills - for instance at last year's AN somebody who didn't complete her axel placed ahead of me, when I had a clean program containing an axel. However her overall skating is wonderful, and I don't necessarily disagree with the judges' choice in this case.

    The Adult Committee members of the USFSA have been very helpful to me as I entered the sometimes confusing world of adult testing and competitions. Being adult skaters themselves, they are very supportive of adult skating. The USFSA recognizes adult skating as an important part of their organization. Sure, we don't get monetary support from the USFSA to travel and compete, but realistically very few kid skaters get that kind of support either. We may not bring them tv revenue, but we are one of the fastest growing sections of skating right now, and we do bring in a considerable amount of revenue in membership, test and competition fees. Also, we are generally more involved than a simple parent, becoming involved in the clubs and learning to be judges. The USFSA magazine even has a seciton devoted to adult skating in each issue.


    As for what peachstatesk8er says, yeah we may never be skating in the Olympics, but IMO it is a pretty big thing to to be a national champion in your age group and level. Heck, it is a pretty big thing to participate in a national competition like AN's. I also consider the masters and Gold champions (those that have to qualify for the championship event) to be the elite skaters in the adult world.

    I have ambitions in my skating that would not be satisfied by the recreational track. Testing and local competitions are not enough for me right now. I'm not saying that the USFSA is better than ISI - they both have their purposes. I've found the USFSA comps to be friendly and adult-supportive - but then I'm in a different region/section than both of you, and in an area that has been in the forefront of USFSA adult skating (the Ann Arbor FSC). That may make a difference in how the clubs in your regions/section view adult skating as opposed to how they view adult skating here.

    If you pass your pre-bronze freestyle, why don't you come on out and try the North American Adult Invitational? It's in March, in Wyandotte Michigan, south of Detroit. It's an all-adult event, and it was a lot of fun last year, even though I had to withdraw due to injury. I think you'll be pleasantly suprised by how friendly and nice a competition it is.

    Edited to add the link to the Wyandotte comp. The forms aren't out yet, but the dates and pics from last year are there. (I'm sitting in the stands with a goofy look on my face in one of the pics!)

    http://ic.net/%7eburgoyne/wyandot/wyandot.htm
    Last edited by sk8er1964; 09-22-2003 at 09:13 PM.

  5. #5
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    What sort of ugly things Peachie? I would like to hear.

    Anyway, I started skating as a teenager in a USFSA club and when I picked it back up again as an adult, I never even knew about any other options, so I'm a USFSA adult competitor. I've only been a couple of events, but those I've attended were positive experiences.

    I don't have a problem with being a lower priority for the USFSA than the younger Olympic level skaters. I mean really, I have to work, I have home and hubby and will eventually have children. I skate as a hobby and I don't expect the moon, just to have a few events that cater to adults, a testing structure and an opportunity to improve. I've got those things, so I'm pretty satisfied overall.

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by StillBlueLake
    What sort of ugly things Peachie? I would like to hear.

    I grew up skating both ISI and USFSA. Of course you get used to the pettiness and snarking that is a regular part of competitive skating, but to see the same crap when it's all adults was a little alarming to me. The last time I was a volunteer for the Peach comp down here, I can't tell you how awful the judges were about commenting on the ladies. "OMG, would you look at her thighs", "What is she doing wearing a backless dress with all that back fat?", and so on. One judge has always been that way, she'll never change, but to hear a whole panel going on was ridiculous IMO. After my first experience volunteering and hearing that I said never again, but I gave it another chance only to see and hear the same garbage again. Those are adults out there with real bodies, they're not, nor should they be, held to the same standard of looks as an 18 year old elite skater. I was just apalled. And a lot of the competitors were not much better. I'm sure it's fun for everyone involved, but I had my skating days, they're over, and I have no desire to get back into it when it appears it's just the same crap 10+ years later. But, to each their own. I have the utmost respect for anyone willing to get out there on the ice and compete no matter what the organization or level.

  7. #7
    Yurisgirl
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    Scary that some of those judges were being as snarky as they were. I bet if they took a look at themselves in the mirror they'd find a few fat rolls and cellulite lumps here and there!

  8. #8
    Salchows and Shimmies!!!
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    Since someone brought up "uglies", here's a classic:

    This involves a comp that combined ISI and USFSA into combined levels with USFSA judges. In one event, a coach who was also an adult competitor had a student come in fourth and just miss a medal. This was a basic skills group, for skaters who have no more than a waltz jump. It was won by a little girl with an AXEL, plus a full complement of other jumps and spins!!! The situation was hideous, and there was much sturm and drang over the fact that the ref permitted this kid to skate in this group after seeing her in practice. She was obviously WAY too advanced to skate at this level, not just in tricks, but even in basic skating, and this was major sandbagging for a gold. Afterward, the coach/adult skater I mentioned, who stayed out of the fray, went to the ref and asked politely for him to define the skating skills that were needed in this event as she wanted to be sure for future reference. No accusations, never even mentioned the results or the kid who won. The ref basically admitted that they had noticed the skills the child had and the judges were instructed to ignore the axel only.

    Here's the upshot. The coach had her own adult event later that week. She was supposed to skate against about four others, but three withdrew, and the other one didn't show. Because of this, she skated against the book, an artistic program with no required elements. When she took her opening position, she faced the judges and looked into the eyes of the ref she had politely questioned about the previous event. He was judging her event. Guess what--when she saw her scores, every judge had ranked her first--except the ref/judge who gave her a 2nd place finish even though she was the only skater and had skated a clean program. How's that for a nasty little message to get across to you that you should never question anything????? The coach wanted to file a complaint about her kid's event, but this told her if she did, to do it anonymously lest it come back to hurt her.

  9. #9
    In love with the axel!
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    This same discussion is going on over on another forum:

    http://www.skatingforums.com/showthr...threadid=10326

    I do agree that sandbagging is a problem in the USFSA, because there are few limits. I would like to see more controls on this, especially at the lower standard levels. Many comps do offer Pre-pre that has limits on it (ie no axel), which is an attempt to cure the problem that you mentioned. IMO, a basic skills competitor with an axel should have been disqualified, but that was the referee's call.

    As for the snarky judges and possible revenge, I find it very hard to believe that all ISI judges are always fair, always blind to a skater's appearance, and always judging skaters exactly according to the rules. Whether you are skaing at a basic skills competition or at the Olympics, judging is a subjective sport.

    Should the USFSA judges mentioned have acted in the manner that they did? Absolutely not. (Especially commenting on someone's body shape - that's just plain rude, no matter who you are.) My experience at adult competitions is not great, but I'd like to repeat what I said before - I have not seen, nor have I heard of, that kind of activity going on around here. The adult skating world around here is rather small, and there would be rumors, if nothing else.

  10. #10
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    I've seen very few questionable calls in ISI events and I've been involved with them for 20 years. They really are advocates for participation, not elimination. You won't make it to the Olympics through them, but their levels are fair and while they're restrictive in what you're allowed to do at each level, I think that makes for a more level playing field. You'll still find some people sandbagging (my first comp I skated Beta against a girl that should have been in FS1 or 2 easy), but it's not as common a problem in ISI as it is in USFSA.

  11. #11
    Salchows and Shimmies!!!
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    I am a new ISI judge (Bronze, the first level) and I can tell you my "shadow" (practice) judging time at our Spring competition was enlightening and gave me a very favorable impression of the ISI system--I took my bronze exam at the annual conference in Vegas post this comp. There were no snarky comments from the judges, we just had a good time and did our best to be fair. I was able compare my scores, which didn't count, of course, to those of the real judges, and I was pleased to see that I came pretty close to their scores in almost all events/skaters. The discussion on skatingforums was interesting. My coach agrees about ISI levels--she always jokes that if she could rewrite them, edges would come in Alpha!!! She taught me edges along with the beta and gamma skills, which helped. I have to agree with Peach that ISI is simply more inclusive and I too have just about NEVER seen the judging problems that occur with USFSA. In fact, at local ISI competitions, I've seen the judges be willing to bend the rules and schedule a bit to be helpful (allowing a skater to skate their program at a different time than it would normally be scheduled if they can't make the scheduled time for serious reasons, etc.)

    As someone prepping to test pre-bronze MITF and Free, I see the pre-bronze skater's complaints. Most of the time if you want to compete, you have to skate at bronze, and then you're basically out there to just try and put a clean program on ice, because you're going to come in behind the bronze skaters, even if they make mistakes. Hey, I'm not grumbling about medals, its the idea that most competitions seem to see us as boring wastes of time with just sals and toes and not worth considering in competition.

    There's obviously a place for both ISI and USFSA in the skating world, and its a matter of choice. I did have to roll my eyes a bit though at one poster's comment that she won't do ISI anymore because USFSA comps are more "important and impressive." That tell's me a great deal about what's important to her about skating.

    I also want to add one other special thing about ISI that my husband's coach always points out as why she prefers it. ISI takes into consideration the kids (and adults) who simply aren't ever going to be able to jump and spin and gives them a chance to compete and perform. I think that is very valuable to the community at large. I've heard stories of kids who started in USFSA basics and when they weren't able to progress into the jumping and spinning stage, essentially got ignored by the program because there weren't opportunities for them to use what they could do and have team/club fun and enjoy skating. ISI doesn't shunt these kids aside.
    Last edited by Yazmeen; 09-24-2003 at 01:56 PM.

  12. #12
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    One thing I don't understand about the USFSA adult system is why they have a prebronze level if they aren't going to provide competitions. That just makes no sense to me. I compete at Bronze and I've been up against ladies with pre bronze level skills, and it isn't really fair to them. Big difference in jumps, I mean this one competitor had way better style than me, but her hardest jump was the loop and she fell. Seems that they need to expand the adult comps a bit and give pre bronzers a level.

    However, I HAVE seen Prebronze events at some competitons, I think Wyandotte. But they aren't at Adult Nats.

  13. #13
    Rinkside
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    I'm new, but....

    ...I'm new here, but I also wanted to comment on this thread so far.

    I competed on and off (ie when I wasn't pregnant with my son) at the Pre-Bronze level in USFSA from the summer of 1999 to the spring of 2002, and I had to skate up at 2 competitions out of 5 due to there being no Pre-Bronze level. Those two competitions have since added a Pre-Bronze adult event (I know at least one of those competitions got two requests/questions about it, one of which was from me). Every local competition in my state that offers adult events now offers the Pre-Bronze adult level, including our State Games. So my advice to the Pre-Bronzers is to contact the club or individual who is running the competition you would like to compete at, and let them know way in advance that you are interested in Pre-Bronze. If they know there is a demand for it, chances are a lot better that it will be added.

    There are also several all-adult competitions all over the country that not only offer Pre-Bronze FS, but also Moves, compulsories, spins, etc. One of these is Peach Classic in Atlanta, which is held every year on Labor Day weekend. I skated Pre-Bronze there my first year and had such a blast I have gone back every year since then! The USFSA's adult page has a bunch of them listed, along with competitions offering adult events here:
    http://www.usfsa.org/programs/adult/...mpetitions.htm

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by flutzilla; 09-25-2003 at 12:20 PM.

  14. #14
    Rinkside
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    I've competed USFSA for years (decades!) and recently began working my way through ISI. USFSA levels are broader and more difficult and people tend to stay at one level for long periods before moving up, if they ever do. So if you compete a lot you get to know your competitors and where your skills stand against them. The results of USFSA competitions don't vary a whole lot, even though the judging panels change with every competitions. The standards in long run are pretty even. Whereas in ISI the results seem to vary wildly within the same competition - one person can be first in one event and last in the next. But the ability levels seem to be much more closely matched - all of the people within the group are doing pretty much the same things, the variable become speed and sureness rather than difficulty.

    The one big difference I see between USFSA and ISI competitions is that the USFSA judges are, for the most part, willing and even eager to talk to skaters and coaches, give advice, pointers and corrections. ISI seems to actively discourage the judges (who are also coaches) from speaking to skaters or having to explain their results. The lack of direct feedback makes it difficult for me to judge my progress. ISI is more relaxed and congenial, though, and less stressful.

    Each system has its strong and weak points. I think you have to try both to see which one suits you better.

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