On The Edge... Again

The last time I skated regularly, you needed 2 pair of skates, a scribe and skated patch. Triple jumps were almost unheard of, so were Bielman spins. Twizzles were only done by ice dancers and Ronald Regan was just elected into office.

Fast Forward 32 years. Starting January 2, 2012, I am back on the ice doing something else that was unheard of .... Adult Figure Skating. We had "coffee club", which was like adult swim, but there was no opportunity for testing or competition.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Road to IJS

OK so at the adult silver level  we are judged by United States figure skating under the old 6.0 majority rules .  The Panel of seven judges watch you skate. They make a few notes by hand and they decide whether you should be first, second, third or 10th etc.  you can see in my previous post a results page for my silver free skate at nationals. To the right of my name are the ordinals that I was given by each of the seven judges.  Most of the time they are very close in agreement but sometimes they are all over the place.  This happens a lot especially in what used to be known as the interpretive events that are now called showcase.  It's very subjective.

When you achieve the test level of gold in adult skating or if you were a more accomplished child skater and returned to the sport as an adult, you may be a Masters skater at the intermediate/novice or Junior/Senior levels.   All of these events are judged under the rules governed by the international skating union or ISU, and the judging system is called IJS or international judging system.  I'm not a skating historian, but I believe this all stemmed from a "thrown" score at the 2002 Olympics in the pairs event.

 I have a loose understanding of how the scoring works.  When you put a program together, each  jump, spin, step sequence, spiral sequence or as we call them "elements" have a  base point value.
 Obviously the harder the jump the more points you get, the more revolutions in a spin or the more complex combination jumps and combination spins will render you a higher base value.  Coaches in choreographers will try to create a program that will maximize your base value score before you ever hit the ice according to your abilities… And usually a little beyond - they like to push us  into reaching our potential.

Now when it comes time to skate  not only do you have a panel of seven judges but they already have a list of your program components before them in a computer. They may have never seen you skate but they know what you're attempting to do in your program and in what order.  So rather than write down everything that you do, they make notes on each element on how well or in some cases-  poorly you execute each of those components.  This is called the grade of execution or GOE.  This ranges from +3 to -3. And because we are only human, your eyes may be down making notes when something is going on so there is a technical panel viewing on a monitor as you skate to see  whether or not a jump was fully rotated or if the jump took off from the correct edge,  how many revolutions were achieved in the position of a spin etc.

 Elite skaters are all judged and do this scoring system, so if you're watching skating on television this is why everyone shuffles over to what's known as the kiss and cry bench to wait for these calculations to finish being made in within a few minutes the  technical score in the component score are calculated and posted and everyone knows where they stand after they skated because they will announce what place they are currently in.  It also gives skaters a chance to skate against themselves… In other words trying to achieve a personal goal of attaining a higher point accumulation during their program.

 One of the beauties of adult skating is that the judges in the 6.0 system seem to be a little more lenient on things like taking off from the proper edge or attaining a real sit spin position where your butt  has to be at or below your knee level.  Under that complicated IJS system it is what it is  and it's all under review.

 I'm up for the challenge, but I have aptly named this new system IJS = I'm just scared!!!

 So if you haven't fallen asleep reading the previous paragraphs or if you skipped over it because you already know everything there is to know about it below is my first lesson after coming back from adult nationals and I am working with my coach, trying to improve my spins for this judging system that I will be skating under at the end of August in Vancouver British Columbia for the 2016 International Adult Skating Championships.  Usually this is one event per year held in overstored Germany, but this year they decided to hold to international competitions.     Obersdorf  will happen in June.  Each competition is independent of each other.