Olympia asked in the Gordeeva's daughters thread,
Good questions, which I thought might be worth discussing apart from any particular young skaters.what is it that one will spot at this age to give indication of her talent? Or maybe I should ask, at what age might one spot potential?
I'll suggest some qualities that seem to me to indicate potential when present in young lower-level skaters when they're starting out:
balance, awareness of where the body is in space (proprioception, alignment), fearlessness
ability to skate fast, lean over edges, support the weight on bent knees, turn both directions and change direction with ease and at speed, which includes subtle adjustments of balance over the right part of the blade at the right time for each move; ability to jump high and rotate quickly
Some of this can be trained, but only so far, based on one's natural physical gifts. Obviously the skating skills I list after the line break are learned, but I'd say talent = ability to pick up these skills quickly.
Especially for ice dancing, ability to hear musical rhythm and control the body movements to match it.
And then there are talents more related to the artistic side of skating, such as ability to feel music and to move in ways that makes audience feel it, that will help a skater's results compared to others of his/her skill level but that won't substitute for technical skills to begin with. And flexibility and extension, some of which is genetic and some of which can be trained, but are not skating skills per se.
What do you think?