Monday, September 13, 2010


Ice Mom had a question about tights too...and since I have only a minute I thought I'd do a quick share.

There are several options out there:
  • Over the Boot tights. Great for skaters with short legs (like me). Also great for skaters with things they need to cover on their boots. Not so great for skaters with big feet in proportion to their body or really long legs. Also great for synchro skaters because it makes all their skates the same.
  • Footed tights (or in the boot tights). Great for skaters with long legs (or just those really skinny lanky legs - every kid tall or short goes through this stage). Also good if you need an under pair of tights - they work will for those who prefer thicker tights in their skates. Not so good with those of us with short legs. The distance between the skating skirt and the skates makes your legs look stubby and unflexible. Trust me. Not so good if you freak out that your skates are going to come undone.
  • Stirrup tights. They're a little 90s, but I preferred them, especially for practice, over OTB - they made me feel better that my laces are secure. 
  • Over the Ankle tights. Personally I think these are good for no one, but if you insist on keeping your laces safe and want your boot showing, this is where it's at.
The other "cool" style for synchro skaters right now, I've been informed, is:

  • Over the Heel tights. For synchro I kind of like this look, as long as the white skate is sticking out. I think it looks neat. 
  • And black tights are making a comeback. They hide knobby knees (like mine) for sure, but I'm not sure how I feel about the 90s making a comeback. It brings back too many bad memories.
Now the real questions...

And...I bet you know my answers if you've been reading my appearance posts.

Does it matter?

Nope, not really.

Do I notice?


Do I think someone shouldn't be wearing a certain kind of tights?


Do I notice a hole in your tights?

Most often not.

Does it bother me when you wear over the boot tights and it slips up and I can see your white boot?

Are you going to lose marks because I hate your tights?
Nope. It won't change your position - unless it's distracting. In which case, I might miss something or pay more attention to your feet. So just remember - if you're attracting attention to your feet or legs - you better have straight knees and beautiful crosscuts.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Questions from Ice Mom - Skates

Continuing on with some questions from Ice Mom from

(I promise...Transitions soon. I know you can hardly wait!!! I completed a seminar for a group of about 12 kids today on Transitions and I think they thought I was a little crazy I got so passionate about transitions. they're my new love!!!!)

DIRTY SKATES/FUNKY SKATES:  I was at a test session last week and a judge wrote at the bottom of a skater's feedback form dirty skates. How big of a deal is it? Ice Girl has solid red glitter on the heels and soles of her boots. It's soooooo cooooool. But, she wears over-the-boot tights during competitions and testing to hide the glitter from the judges. Some kids have stickers, photos, or their names in the varnish on the bottom of boots. Is this a big deal?

Well, truth be told - this goes pretty in line with the hair question too. It's not going to put you in last place just because Ice Girl has shiny, glittery red soles...but I think that continuing to wear over the boot tights during competitions and testing IS a good idea? Why? It's distracting!!!

Do you really want to draw attention to your feet? That answer is a big fat no. If you're drawing attention to your feet, you'd best have the most beautiful footwork and crossovers, ala Patrick Chan, I have ever seen. If you're going to make me look at your feet with red glitter, you better give me good reason to be distracted by your feet!!!

I think it's the same with any of those examples up there - stickers, photos, etc.- the judges don't really need to see those because they're distracting and unnecessary. I don't see top level skaters with those things on their boots, so really there's no reason for you to have them either.

But again, that being said, I understand that it's cool and hip...but remember - I'm young and I hope I'm hip. Mr. Man Judge next to me that has judged for 400 years isn't going to like your stickers on your skates and sometimes he doesn't follow the rules - sometimes he'll knock you down a couple placements (especially in 6.0 judging where it's easier to do that) - because he's grumpy and doesn't like it. I'm not saying it's right and I'm not saying that's what I would do...but someone, somewhere has to admit these things.

Another thing I remember doing as a younger competitor was being forced to paint my skates. Truth be told, I won't notice as a judge. But as a skater it gave me something to do the night before a competition and made me feel as though the competition was important and big. Painting my skates was indicative of my "professionalism" in a competitive world.  Anyways - painting your skates is much more time consuming than over the boot tights, but if you want to keep them shiny and white, by all means. I probably won't notice. As for the skater at a test session with the dirty skates according the judge, they must have been pretty tarnished up and dirty for a judge to notice. Again, don't distract and draw attention to your feet (where mistakes are made!).

So, if you're a parent wondering out there - let's make it easy. If your skater insists on decorating their skates, then just wear over the boot tights. However, I can tell you that when my daughter is old enough to have skates she won't be decorating them, cool or not - that definitely decreases the value of them second hand and I'm kinda cheap that way ;)

Look next for a post on tights or transitions. It's a good surprise to come back for.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hair - A Question from Ice Mom

I'm interjecting my regularly scheduled program (of Transitions) for a couple questions from the famous IceMom. This is mostly because I liked her questions, and my transitions binder is in my car - since I live in an apartment, I don't want to walk downstairs to get it :D IceMom asks some great questions and I wanted to answer them. I've divided them into a couple posts - the first starting with "hair."

I need to put in a warning though. I am young. I've been a skater my whole life. I "get" it...or at least I hope I'm still young enough to get it. I know how kids are and I know that some things are cooler than others. That being said - I am not an OLD judge. I am not a 100 years old and I don't have my ways set in stone. I can assure you that if your judge IS 100 years old, has been judging since...well, the ice age...then he will have different opinions then me. Often just the opposite. Keep that in mind.
HAIRDo pink streaks turn judges off? How about a 9-year-old's hair-cutting mistake?  What about ponytails versus buns?

I know that real life happens. I know the teenagers will rebel and die their hair pink. I know that 9-year-olds give themselves haircuts. Mistakes happen. And this is especially something that is personal opinion...I don't really care. Note that I am a person, not some sort of robot - and if you're hair has a pink streak in it, I might think "cool" and/or I might think "that looks terrible." Am I going to take off marks and place you last? Not likely.

But, as I guess the name might suggest (:D), I will judge you. It's human nature and I can't help it. I'm just old enough to think dying your hair strange colors is a sign of rebellion. It's off the beaten path. I KNOW it's not always, but when I see it - I'm going to think, "Man, that kid has an attitude, I bet." I also might think, if you skate badly, "That kid isn't disciplined, as her hair might suggest." If you skate well though, I'll think "That funny colored hair gives her that attitude boost she needs in skating." If your dress and your hair clash, I won't take off marks, but I will most definitely laugh in my head. I'm human.

As for a 9-year-old's hair cutting mistake, I'm sure the mom will do whatever she can to hide the bald spot, etc. And that's life. Again, I might laugh - and I'll probably think, "poor mom", but it's not going to affect your score. However, I probably will note it on my little sheet, especially on 6.0, simply because it helps me remember you...and because 6.0 is a system that judges you one against the other, it will help me remember.

I'm big on ponytails versus buns. That's an important aspect of figure skating - presentation. It IS about how you look. Again, I'm not going to put you last because you're wearing a messy ponytail, but it really doesn't add to your appearance. If you don't look confident and proud, a) you probably won't skate that way and b) if you do manage to skate well and another girl skates similarly and looks better, even if it is subconscious, she'll probably place over you. Why? She looks the part. I know it doesn't sound fair, but that's the way figure skating is. If you don't like it, you're in the wrong sport. Yes, skating is athletic, but it is also pretty and artistic. 
So which do I prefer? I prefer a neat and tidy bun with a scrunchy or matching hair piece. With gel. I hate seeing whispies flying all over the place. It's a personal thing, but in my opinion it looks like you didn't take the time of day to prepare yourself and look the part. If you don't care, why should I care? And yes. I know the pain of whispies. I have curly hair. It has been a painful, mucky skating career for me ;)

If you're not going to have a bun, please don't have a floppy ponytail with clips everywhere and bangs flopping in your face. Again, it's your choice, but it truly looks like you don't give a care - it looks like you rolled out of bed and showed up at a competition. If I have to get up and look nice, wear dress clothes, and groom myself appropriately, then you do too. If you don't care, why should I care?

I also really like creative, cute hairstyles. I'm not going to lie. They stand out. I can tell you about a girl I've judged at a competition in a little pre-preliminary event three or four times. Her hair ROCKS. It's in double french braids twisted into the side in a bun. There is ribbon weaved in. And I marvel every single time about how perfect her hair looks. Every time. Does it help her placement? Not necessarily. Did I consider her hair in her mark? Nope. Absolutely no relation. But does she look awesome? Yep. Do I remember her? Yep. Might that help her in the future? It could. Oh, and if you have a ponytail and you've curled it or done something cute, I notice that. I like that too.

And when using 6.0 for judging the younger kids - I'm going to write something down to remember you by. A floppy ponytail is not a good thing to be remembered the 20 seconds I have to compare you to the last 12 skaters, I can't read over every note I've written on every skater - but if I see floppy ponytail it'll probably be associated with a negative though. Just telling you the truth!!

So in summary? No, you're not going to come last because you have pink hair in a floppy ponytail. You're not always going to skate better because you look good - but my thought has always been look good, feel good, skate good. I think my biggest example of hair in the competitive world is Joannie Rochette versus Mira Leung. I'll admit off the bat that I am Canadian and a big Joannie fan, but I know you'll agree with me.

Who looks like the confident, strong Olympic bronze medalist? Who looks like the nearly-retired forgotten Olympian? 

That's what I thought. You can't possibly disagree.
Appearance doesn't make the skater...but sometimes it breaks them.

Monday, August 30, 2010

PCS Series (Singles): Skating Skills

Starting out with my first "real" post, I decided to go with a series on Program Components. I'll break them down individually and tell you my honest to gosh thought patterns, scribbly codes, and thoughts that go through my head as I come up with a score for "Skating Skills." Though I judge Novice and down (and therefore my ranges tend to be 4.5 to 0.75 for PCS) these thoughts can be applied at any level. I will focus on the lower levels though, because I don't feel like Yuna Kim is browsing my blog looking for ways to raise her PCS!

Let's start at the beginning: Skating Skills.

That is the very first mark on the top of the sheet the judges use. It is almost always the very first box I write in. Quite literally - did you know I almost always mark whether your first few strokes are toe pushes (TP) or not. Nearly every program at the younger levels (and often even the higher levels!) start off with some sort of artistic display. Some use of the highlights in the music and crossovers with pretty arms. I find that the skaters are already focusing on their first element and that seem to forget that these first few crossovers are making a major first impression. Do you think about those steps or are you focusing on that first jump?

What specific things do I take into consideration (honestly!) when I watch you skate for your skating skills mark?
  • How many pushes do you use in a crosscut - 1 or 2? If you only have 1 push in a crosscut, I'm going to note that you poor basic skating skills (either -SS, -bSS, or x's1).
  • Speed - Are you fast or slow (-spd or +spd)? I also note where your power is coming from, because some skaters are naturally stronger and can go faster with "cheated" power. A small 8-year-old girl is not going to go as fast as a strong 12-year-old - simple fact. However, if that small 8-year-old's power is coming from strong crossovers, I'll make note (pwr from Xs). If the 12-year-old is fast I'd note that too (pwr from TP <toe pushes>). 
  • Flow is included in this section too - simply noted as good or bad (+flw, -flw).  I might not always note this as sometimes flow is included with the other things mentioned, but sometimes, oddly enough, a skater DOES have great speed and poor flow.
  • If something you started out strong with dies during your program (ie: I wrote down +spd and by the end you're just crawling), I'd either put a downwards arrow (which I can't figure out how to do on here) or simply just cross out the word (+spd). I don't give very much credit at all for something that you started out strong with and die by the end. It shows that you are inconsistent and poorly trained.
In the first few levels of competition, those are pretty much the only things I need to look at to develop a score for you. If you're in the beginning categories up to and including at times even PreNovice, I don't need to look further than your crossovers and powers - there is often not much other opportunity to grade your other skating skills. Turns, edges, etc. are not factors yet at this levels, except for the top competitors - in which case I make small notes (+turns, +edges, etc).  When we start to get into the top half of most PreNovice competitions and into Novice levels (and obviously above) more notes are required. I consider other things, too:
  • Edge control and quality of edges. Simply - is there edges? Sometimes it comes down to that. Is there outside/inside edges or is your skating mostly flat. Is there deep edges? Good control? Etc. I look at things like posture - if your upper body is all over the place trying to keep your control of edges, then you do not have any control whatsoever (-ctrl, +ctrl). 
  • Quality of turns. Of the turns that you're doing, are you doing them well? Are you doing fabulous three turns with control and edges? Or are you simply attempting to hard of turns and executing them poorly? Are you completing brackets on the wrong edges? (+3s, -brtks). I don't grade your choice of complexity in this section as much - I leave that for transitions. 
  • Varied speed. In the lower levels, the top skaters are the ones with good speed. However, as you go higher, good skaters aren't always fast - they have the ability to slow down and speed up at different points in the program.  To be honest, I don't have a short form for this as I haven't seen it often enough to reward it - I will have to come up one!
So - during the course of your program, I make notes on the above things. Sometimes your box is filled, sometimes there's not much. Sometimes I might just note +/- meaning good and bad at different times.  And then in the 30 seconds or so after you skate, I have to come up with a mark? What is the difference for me? 
  •  1.0-1.75 - These are your most basic skaters. So far to date I haven't dropped below the 1.0 level, though I was tempted once last weekend. I gave a 1.0 instead. What would be the difference between a 1.0 skater and a 1.75 skater? I look at the above markings I guess. I sort of come up with a gut feeling and then looking at my notes. I think - "Well, that skater seemed pretty fast and solid, let's go with 1.75." When I look down at my notes, I see +spd, -edges and I see that actually her edges weren't solid and her speed died - and I drop it down to say 1.5. 
  • 2.0-2.75 - This to me is the next level of skating. There is confidence and sureness of skating. They know what they're doing. What would bump you from a 1.75 to 2.0 - I'd say it's the confidence and EASE of skating. When I see power coming from 2 pushes in a crosscut and not breaking at the waist to do so, I'm going to bump you into the 2s. Again, I look at my notes and plus/minus accordingly for the interval. 
  • 3.0-3.75 - I'm starting to see the second group up there - you have turns in your skating and you are doing them well (at least for the upper 3s). I see control of your skating and edges at all times. I think that's what bumps it into the 3s for me - at all times. When I see glimpses of struggling (and that may be in the form of being tired by the end) I'm going to keep you in the 2s. 
  • 4.0-4.75 - I think officially the highest mark I've given if 4.5 if I recall properly. What bumps you into the 4s? I shouldn't have to contemplate your ease of skating - I should just see ease of skating skills at all times without question. I mean, like, I shouldn't have to write +/- ease down at any time because it isn't even a question - it's like "duh!". I'm going to see ALL pluses to bump me into the high 4s. I'm going to see different turns done well for the most part. I'm going to start to see a word that would bump me into the 5s if we get there - effortless. When I see effortless skating that is when you're going to get up there. 
That's all for today folks.
Check back soon for the next section on PCS - transitions (ooh, a controversial topic no less!!!!!). Perhaps if I scour YouTube enough I'll post videos of what I consider a "1-1.75" skater, a "2-2.75" skater, etc.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Who Are You?

Who am I? What gives me authority to post my thoughts and judging opinions online?

I am a mid-level skating judge somewhere in Canada. I've judged for just a year, but been involved in various aspects of figure skating for almost 20 years. I started my own skating career as a little one in a learn to skate program and quickly progressed into the STARSkate program SkateCanada offers - the alternative to competitive skating, but equally competitive. I competed in singles and synchronized skating for as long as I can remember.  I retired from any sort of competition last year fully and decided to take up judging to stay involved with the sport.  I also have my Level 1 Coaching Certificate and coached skating from learn to skate to competitive for three years - I retired to keep up my own skating, start a family, and start a career in a very different world that didn't involve skating. 

I am in love with the "new system" in skating - I believe that CPC is the best thing to happen to figure skating in many, many years. Though it had it's growing pains and will always have its blips (as skating is subjective, there is always going to be debate), I believe that the majority of those involved in the skating world are satisfied to some degree with this system.

I feel that there is a lot of misconstrued ideas out there and that judges get a lot of flack. I believe in being an honest judge at all times, but realize that mistakes will always be made. I want to share my knowledge with you as I grow as a judge. I'm not sure what direction this website will take, but feel free to guide me and grow with me.