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Thread: What If....No More Tests???

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    What If....No More Tests???

    Have been reading posts about ice testing system......On roller (back when I skated in the 80s) there weren't any tests. Basically, it went by age up to sophmore. If you medaled at Regonals, then you moved up to Junior/Senior. Otherwise, you stayed in Sophmore. After a while, they added A and B events so the "beginner" skaters would be separated from the others to make it more "fair".......(ie. Freshman A or Freshman B).
    Ice is very interested in testing. I know that people will immediately jump to defense of the system by stating that the basics need to be maintained etc. but WHY? I mean seriously....WHY? Why not let skaters put together programs that showcase their strengths and let the judges decide? Admittedly, you might get a "jumper" or "artist" (cortionist with excellent edge quality and poorer jumps). But then that is individuality. Right now, the skaters have so many requirements that they all seem to be doing the same thing and look like robots or carbon copies of each other (only skating to different music). :sheesh:
    Don't attack idea out of hand just to defend system. Seriously. What whould it be like if there weren't any tests/requirements?
    Last edited by bondgirl; 11-03-2009 at 08:16 AM. Reason: Added stuff

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    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Oh my. Testing is important for learning the basics, for learning balance and body control, and for learning proper technique on turns, jumps, and spins. You simply can't have people of all abilities and levels out on the ice at one time flailing their bodies around with no sense of technique. This is an absolute disaster waiting to happen.

    I have a question for you, from your posts it seems that you have a problem with coaching, learning the correct techniques, and now testing. Why is this? If you want to be good, skaters need to learn and have guidance. A skater simply cannot progress if they do not have coaching, technique, and testing in their skating. I understand that you just want to skate for fun, and that's great. However, the majority of skaters want to learn, progress, and compete or test. If you take that away, what will they have left?

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    Did not mean to make it personal. Roller did not use testing (when I competed) and there was still a "reasonable" competition structure....Judges judged. Someone could (theoretically) come into Regonals right off the street. Skate. And win. No tests. Seemed more democratic that way.......

    But since you did make it personal.....Yes, you're right. I don't like rules. And I don't necessarily agree with you that you need to "follow the rules" to progress...(Don't see what a perfect rocker or counter turn done on the non-dominant side has to do with landing a triple).....But if you have to require something it would make more sense to require jumping/spinning in the opposite direction for a freesylist or something like that than rockers/counters. Sometimes it is good to question the rules.....What is wrong with that? (Don't worry. It is impossible to actually change rules without money/power. But questioning them is always ok.)
    Last edited by bondgirl; 11-03-2009 at 10:34 AM. Reason: Added

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    Quote Originally Posted by bondgirl View Post
    Did not mean to make it personal. Roller did not use testing (when I competed) and there was still a "reasonable" competition structure....Judges judged. Someone could (theoretically) come into Regonals right off the street. Skate. And win. No tests. Seemed more democratic that way.......

    But since you did make it personal.....Yes, you're right. I don't like rules. And I don't necessarily agree with you that you need to "follow the rules" to progress...(Don't see what a perfect rocker or counter turn done on the non-dominant side has to do with landing a triple).....But if you have to require something it would make more sense to require jumping/spinning in the opposite direction for a freesylist or something like that than rockers/counters. Sometimes it is good to question the rules.....What is wrong with that?
    I was just curious about your viewpoint is all. As for counters and rockers, they are important for footwork and transitions. Also, if you are going to become an ice dancer these are essential to have. Skating is not all about jumps and spins. I loved working on my skating skills and rockers are probably my favorite turn

    I think it's fine to question the rules. However, they are in place for a reason. When you have skaters flying around the ice with blades on their feet their needs to be structure and the right technique emphasized. It's just the same as hockey players progressing through power skating and getting the proper coaching at their teams practice.

    BTW, I didn't even know there was such a thing as roller figure skating. Interesting.

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    Yes, unfortunately it is not very popular here in the US. (The Italians pretty much "rule" the sport. It is also popular in South America.) Here in the US it is very hard to find rinks to practice at (like ice, they loose money on figure skating). I was practicing outdoors at a skatepark for goodness sake! :sheesh: If you are any "good" people in the US expect you to go to ice "where you belong." (After all, that type of skating is ice skating....)
    I guess it is just the democracy of the thing that appeals to me. Love the idea that someone could just "walk in" and compete at junior/senior level at Regionals/States and win without tests. (Or at least leave that open as a possibility.) Why not? What are they afraid of? If that skater's technique is so poor (due to the non-testing) then the judges (and even audience) should be able to see that. Right? Oh yes...There could be a problem. You get an incredible jumper (maybe ex-gymnast) with triples and Beilmanns, but pre-juvinile level footwork/edges. Now judes getting bood for giving out low scores. Think Bonaly. (Loved the backflip at the Olympics! Sorry....but I did.)

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    roller figure skating is where Tara Lipinski got her start, IIRC


    as for tests, I do think they have a place, it's to save the skater from harm, for one, and it gives everyone the same advantage... it's the same thing as a competition which is just a bigger test...

    there's a rhyme and reason for it all, ettiquite is good to have, and yes it seems like a rich person's sport for all it entails but so what? Much prefer to sit through skaters who know what they're doing all day long at a competition than someone who skates recreationally pretending to be a competitor. If it's "not fair" too bad. Anyone can come take a test and see if they pass.

    as for Bonaly she was a poor sport that night, IMHO, and her basics were poor... she didn't grow as a pro skater, either, and watching teh same jump five million times was not impressive or entertaining.
    Last edited by Tonichelle; 11-03-2009 at 10:49 AM.

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    Yes, Tara was from roller. Also a senior level female from one of the current top US pairs teams (forget her name. Pretty. Blond hair.) She is an ex-roller.
    Testing is interesting in that it requires the freestylists to do MITF and basically high level dance turns/moves without in turn requiring the same of the dancers (to do high level freestyle moves.) Would love to force dancers to preform 2lutz before they are allowed to take the senior dance test. But the freestylist must preform the senior MITF before being allowed to test freestyle....um....
    Last edited by bondgirl; 11-03-2009 at 11:01 AM. Reason: fixed sentence

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    Yes, but what is entertaining to one person is not for another. I don't watch ice dance because personally I find it boring. (But that is just me. And I'm allowed to find it boring just like some people find a million triples in a program boring.) Obviously, people seem to be interested in/attracted to skaters who skate in "their style.".....

    And for "fair"...My goodness! What is wong with "fair" or making a "rich person's sport" more accessible for everyone?????!!

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    moves in the field are a part of 'freestyle' though... and a lot of dance turns/moves are used in footwork sequences in 'freestyle'

    Evan Lysacek uses twizzles ad nauseum in his footwork, for example... and ice dance work is amazing when it comes to edges which is what skating is about...

    And for "fair"...My goodness! What is wong with "fair" or making a "rich person's sport" more accessible for everyone?????!!
    there's no such thing as "fair" for one thing. what about those kids that DO take the tests and DO work hard and DO pay for endless hours of training and the like... how is it FAIR that THEY had to jump through the hoops but some random person didn't have to? *drama queen moment*

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    Quote Originally Posted by bondgirl View Post
    And for "fair"...My goodness! What is wong with "fair" or making a "rich person's sport" more accessible for everyone?????!!
    So allowing somebody to walk in off the street makes it more accessible? How so? If anything, it just increases the danger. Should a person simply be able to put on a pair of skis and enter a ski jumping competition? Should a person just be able to "walk -on" to a competitive hockey team? Sports are competitive and athlete's must be talented and have the right coaching in order to do well in them.

    I don't think skating is a rich person's sport. Many world class skaters parents' have taken out second mortgages on their homes to pay for skating. Or they have sold their homes and rent a small apartment to save money. My family wasn't rich and I was able to skate competitively for over 10 years.

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    I believe that in some countries (Soviet Union? maybe still in Russia?), competitive skaters advance by competing, with age groupings at the lower levels, and not by testing. But they had to develop all the skills necessary for competitive success.

    That works for programs where there is strict training for competitive skaters, with relatively few participants, and there is no means for older recreational skaters to work their way into the competitive system. Not very democratic.

    The USFSA test system grew up over time as there were more and more skaters participating, especially at lower levels, and as the content of the sport evolved. You have to look at the history to understand why things developed as they did.

    Back in the 1910s there were just junior and senior competition levels, all the tests were figure tests (e.g., rockers and counters, no jumps), and the test requirements for competing at sectionals were lower than for nationals.

    In those days there was no competition structure for skaters who hadn't already passed enough figure tests to compete at junior level.

    As the number of skaters grew, sectional and then regional qualifying competitions were added. A novice competition level was added, and then later juvenile and intermediate levels below that, and then a preliminary level below that. There was NO competition structure for teen and adult skaters who hadn't already reached the intermediate or novice level.

    It was a pretty exclusive system -- not much room for recreational skaters who wanted to compete. And the result, to some extent, was that many skaters dropped out when they got frustrated with not having (m)any opportunities to participate in USFSA or skating club events if they hadn't reached an intermediate or elite test level by a certain age. (I know that's one reason I quit as a teenager.)

    And among the kids who were under 13 and hadn't yet passed the second figure test but did enter club competitions for early experience, there were thousands of kids a huge range of freestyle ability, ranging from still struggling with single jumps to fairly consistent double loops, flips, or lutzes. Basic skating quality also covered a wide range. The first figure test (e.g. "sub-juvenile" or "pre-juvenile" level) and then also the preliminary figure test served as cutoffs but didn't necessarily have a direct correspondence to freeskating ability.

    ISI provided and still provides a less formal approach geared more toward recreational skaters of all ages. Their testing system is much less formal. But their competitions limit the program content at each level much more strictly.

    Then over the last 30 years or so USFS has moved to be more welcoming of lower level skaters who may not be young kids working toward serious elite competition. They added what's now called Open Juvenile as a competition category for teenagers not quite ready for intermediate. They added an adult competition structure.

    In the mid-90s, at the same time that figure tests were eliminated at the lower levels, the pre-preliminary was added and pre-juvenile freestyle test level was introduced.

    More recently, they added a "competitive test track" competition structure for skaters who have passed freestyle tests but can't do the more difficult jumps or spins that are allowed (and required for levels that include short programs) and needed to place well at the corresponding standard competitiion levels.

    These additional test and competition levels at the lower levels keep more kids in the sport longer -- it's less elitist, more democratic. The freestyle tests are relatively easy compared to what's required to be competitive at each level, more and more so the higher you get in the competition structure. So skaters who aren't able to train to elite levels are still able to keep moving up the ranks and competing alongside the elite-track competitors in qualifying competitions if they so choose.

    All these additional competition options makes the sport more inclusive for skaters who are not on the elite track.

    Remember that there are thousands and thousands of kids across the country who skate below the juvenile or intermediate level. At a large club competition, there might be a few hundred entries at these levels. Possibly a hundred "preliminary" girls ages 7-17 if you divide by test level or a hundred 9- and 10-year-olds of no-test to prejuvenile skill level if you divide by age.

    Those fields have to be divided up just to be manageable in size. Its makes for much fairer playing fields to divide by skill level first and then by age than to divide only by age.

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    There are many recreational skaters who do not like to compete. Passing tests is more rewarding for these skaters.

    Interpretive/artistic competitions are another option that have looser standards about testing.

    For adult competition, remember that until the 1980s or 90s USFSA really had no opportunities for adults who hadn't reached novice level to compete at all, other than in ice dance.

    The beginning of the USFSA adult structure was relatively unstructured. More recently they have required Moves in the Field testing for adults, and the upper limits on jump content are much stricter for adults than for kids, because adults usually learn new jumps more slowly compared to their skating skills than kids do and because adults are more likely to lose jumps they used to be able to do as they get older.

    This does mean that a younger adult for whom jumping comes fairly easily may have jump skills beyond what is allowed at the level s/he is able to test to based on other skills. Is this the source of your frustration? (I've been there myself, as a bronze-level adult skater who was able to regain my childhood axel for a while but was otherwise not quite good enough overall for silver level.)

    Nonqualifying competitions usually offer skaters the opportunity to "skate up" to one level higher than they're actually qualified for by test.

    In ice dance it's a bit different, because ice dancing started out as a social recreational activity before it was a competitive sport. Testing is still important, but there is some fluidity in what level you can compete at depending what dance tests you have passed, which in partnered events may change up or down depending on your partner's test history. Also, nonqualifying dance competitions sometimes offer "Open" dance events in which anyone can enter a competition for a given compulsory dance regardless of test level or partner's test level.

    Maybe, at competitions that attract a lot of adult skaters, there would be a market for an adult event that allows the minority whose jump content exceeds their basic skating skill to include their hardest jumps. In addition to the standard restricted prebronze event (which allows untested skaters to "skate up" and which limits the jump and spin content), adult or general nonqualifying competitions could offer something like "unrestricted adult no-test" or just "unrestricted adult" that anyone can enter with no prerequisites, no limits on allowed content, and some generous upper limit on tests passed. That would allow rec skaters who don't like to test to compete against tested skaters and to include whatever their best skills happen to be.

    Don't be surprised if a rec skater with several double jumps loses to more controlled skaters with only singles.

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    I would love to see testing eliminated from requirments to compete. Testing is for learning how to skate and a test structure is fine for that, but it is not needed for a competition structure. testing is is a demotivating impediment for competition that drives people away fromt he sport.

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    I agree with gsrossano that testing turns many people away from competing. Which is really too bad....

    Actually, there are many sports that DO allow people to "walk in off the street." Doesn't football have open tryouts? (The movie Invincible is about just such a true story.) In fact, I believe several sports have open tryouts. Anyone can run a marathon, right? I really don't believe that people are going to hurt themselves without tests....No one is going to thow themselves into a russian split for the fist time during a routine at Regionals because they decided to "walk on" ...And if they CAN do a russian, well good for them!!
    Fact: Every single skater I know of who has been injured at any rink I've been practiced at took tests. Me. No tests. No injuries. Interesting.......Maybe tests cause injuries.....
    Last edited by bondgirl; 11-03-2009 at 02:17 PM.

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    gkelly,
    Thank you for your answer. You really did give it a lot of tought and were very polite. And you make a lot of sense when you bring up the fact that ice has a lot more participants competing and without a testing structure there might be a ton of people trying out for the "upper levels" without the skills necessary to acutally compete there. On roller you had to medal at regionals (sophomore level) to be allowed to skate Junior/Senior level so even there there was a type of barrier so not everyone was running to skate Senior with single jumps and upright spins. It just seems like the testing structure is a bit undemocratic. Would love to see more "open" events....

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