Novice level figure skating: Replace the the SP and hold official ISU competitions for development/scouting.


Oct 30, 2014
There are a couple things about how novice skating is organized that bug me with regard to actually cultivating talent.

My first issue is with the short program. IMO, the short program is unnecessary and should be replaced with something similar to the "elements" portion of Russia's younger nationals competition where the jumps are separated from a steps+spin section . Doing this would give young skaters more room to experiment with jumps and be punished less. At the stage where they've newly learned a jump it's more interesting that they're able to do the jump once in a couple tries rather than how consistent they are at doing it. But those with jump consistency can better show that off too.

I think separating the jumps with the steps+spins gives a little more room to focus on performance. I think one thing figure skating really needs more of is performance frames of reference without jumps as either crutches(tada, I did a jump) or worries(wince, I'm gonna fall). Either of those mentalities are detrimental to performance and they are habitually inoculated through reinforcement because they're no countering reinforcements. Beyond what the Russians do, I'd like to see more focus on choreographic moves like spirals, spread eagles, split jumps, ina bauers, etc. Especially spirals as the core requirements in being able to do a good spiral are reflected in the rest of someone's skating and presentation.

My other issue is how the ISU doesn't seem to really get involved in organizing competitions until the junior level. This is understandable as it keeps attention off of those too young and gives them room to grow. But I can't help but think it's putting those from smaller federations at a pretty big disadvantage. The bigger and more organized federations have better information on which young skaters to invest in. Those skating in those federations have a better idea of where they're at in their development in comparison to their peers. Those from smaller federations are more lost about where they're at and what they can do. And they can't as easily grab attention from top level coaches.

I'm not really in favor of a novice world championships. I'd prefer to see a few tracking events with high standards with regards to video footage and number and distribution of judges. Just deem 3-6 established events as the tracking events. Then have a table on the ISU website that ranks the skaters and makes it easy to see the performances. Something like unseenskater's scoretracker but more official. Then work with figure skating equipment manufacturers who advertise at figure skating events to support young promising skaters. Then financially support young promising skaters under the stipulation that they go train with a coach with a proven track record of students who earn at high level competitions. Some my object to that as narrowing the coaching pool but in the long run it will broaden it as those coached by top coaches may go back and coach in the underserved areas where they come from.

Beyond novices, the short program jump rules for juniors should also be changed. It should alternate between Flip and Lutz being required and it shouldn't matter whether or not it's done in combination or not. The current rules are way too harsh for falling on the combination.
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