Every year, the club invites a dance partner and three USFS-certified judges who judge all tests in Moves and Freestyle, and Dance. This enables nearly all area skaters to test if they are ready to.  But what exactly is testing? Does every skater test? Why is one’s testing level important? Who does the judging? What is the standard needed to pass? What happens if a skater receives a result of “Retry” instead of a result of “Pass”? Do skaters receive recognition for passing tests?

First, testing is an activity sanctioned by United States Figure Skating, the national governing body of figure skating in our country. Skaters may test at their appropriate level in all disciplines: Moves in the Field, Dance, Freeskating, Pairs, or Free Dance. All tests for all disciplines start at the Pre Preliminary Level (Moves and Freeskating), the Preliminary Level (Dance, Pairs) or Juvenile level (Free Dance). No Freeskating or Pairs test may be taken until skaters pass the same level’s Moves in the Field test and Free Dance tests are governed by the rules of the corresponding compulsory dance test.

Skaters advance up the ladders of their chosen disciplines as they pass each test from Pre Preliminary, Preliminary, or Juvenile (Free Dance only) to the Senior or Gold level. CCSA Gold Test Medalists’ names appear on a plaque in the rink along with the year they earned their Gold Medals and the appropriate disciplines. Be sure to look for this plaque in the trophy area adjacent to the rink.

Does everyone test? Good question. To pursue figure skating as a sport skaters do not have to test. But most skaters choose to test, and test as often as they are thought to be “ready” for a test by their Teaching Professional.

Why are skaters’ test levels important? Skaters work hard for each dance, jump, spin, or Moves in the Field pattern they “master”. Presenting “tests” before a panel of USFS-certified judges and receiving marks of a passing level from the majority rewards all the time and effort skaters put into their sport. Knowing they’ve mastered a level of a discipline helps skaters build the confidence they need to continue progressing.

Each test passed helps skaters develop their abilities and knowledge in the sport. They use techniques and abilities learned in one discipline to help them master the next test in that discipline’s test ladder, or apply what they learned to the other disciplines. All disciplines’ test ladders are designed to work together in developing skaters’ abilities and transferring techniques from one discipline to the others.

If skaters wish to compete at nonqualifying events like Turkey Trot (CCSA’s November competition) or the Ron Carlson Marquette International Open (Marquette FSC’s February competition), and/or in the Michigan High School District and State Championship competitions, they must do so according to the levels they have tested and passed. For first timers, all nonqualifying competitions have events labeled “Beginner” for those skaters who have not yet tested in a discipline.

Passing Moves in the Field test levels is also required of synchro team members beyond the beginning levels of that discipline.

If skaters wish to pursue a berth in a qualifying competition, they will do so at their achieved testing level and compete against the very best in their Region for a chance to continue on to Sectionals and Nationals. Former CCSA skaters Elinor Elchert and Jane Summersett, who appeared in last year’s Ice Show, pursued Regional, Sectional, and National berths at qualifying competitions. Kristen Roth, who taught CCSA skaters for the past six years while a Michigan Tech student, was a National Pairs Champion at the Novice level with her partner.

Who does the judging and what is the standard needed to “pass”? USFS, the national governing body of the sport, certifies all test and competition judges American testers and competitors will come in contact with including certain Canadian judges who have also met USFS requirements. Judges undergo a rigorous education program in the rules of the sport, passing a certification test on all new rules each year. They apply to the USFS Judging Committee for approval to start the process of becoming a judge, and, after a study period of months or years of matching their “results” alongside the actual results of tests they have “trial judged”, they can apply for a judging appointment. Once that appointment is granted the new judge must actively judge at the level he/she is appointed to and continue studying and often “trialing” to become qualified at additional levels or in other disciplines. CCSA and its predecessor, Portage Lake FSC, have produced three “home-grown” judges over the past 26 years: most recently, Meghan Hayden who currently judges, Catherine Horsch Burns, now the coach of CCSA’s High School teams, and I who was appointed a dance judge in 1988.

The standard needed to pass any test at any level is outlined in the current rulebook. The standard consists of a written description of what needs to be done to pass a test as well as the “passing average”, a number that represents that standard on a 0.0-6.0 scale. Judging panels for tests may consist of one judge at the Pre Preliminary, Preliminary, and Pre Bronze levels. All other test levels require three USFS-certified judges. Judges interpret the standard to determine a test’s result. The result consists of a word, “Pass” or “Retry”, and a number for all tests above the Pre Preliminary and Preliminary Moves and Freeskating levels and the Preliminary Dance and Pairs level.

Receiving a result of “Pass” on a given test enables skaters to “move up” to the next level in a given discipline and to take the corresponding Freeskating test once they’ve passed a particular level’s Moves in the Field test. Receiving a result of “Retry” on a test requires the skater to present the same test again. Skaters may retry the same test on the 27th day after receiving a result of “Retry”.

To recognize skaters’ test accomplishments, CCSA sends out congratulations and a listing of all skaters and the tests they’ve passed after each testing session is completed. These same results are posted, eventually, in SKATING the official magazine of USFS. USFS issues a certificate for each passed test and CCSA hands these certificates out at each year’s concluding banquet. USFS also offers pins, medals, and bars for purchase after each test is passed and I will send out an email asking CCSA members if they wish to purchase these after the February Test Session. CCSA purchases all Gold Test Medals earned by CCSA skaters and presents those medals at the annual spring banquet.

Work hard, skaters, get those tests ready for the judges! They’ll be here soon. Will you be ready

Sherry Karnosky
CCSA Pro Liaison
Winter 2010