United States Figure Skating, or USFS, is the national governing body in the United States for the sport of figure skating and is both a member of the International Skating Union (ISU) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The USFS is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado and has over 173,000 members that include more than 700 member clubs, collegiate clubs, school affiliate clubs, and registered Basic Skill Program skaters. United States Figure Skating offers the Basic Skills Program as well as a more competitive structured path so that a skater can learn and test their skating skills and may choose to compete in USFS sanctioned competitions within their club or nationwide. United States Figure Skating can be a stepping stone to the Olympics should a skater decide to take the competitive path.
The Basic Skills Program was created to provide a fun and safe environment to learn correct techniques of the basic elements of ice skating while promoting good health and fitness. The skater does not have to be a member of USFS to participate in the Basic Skills Program. Lets take a look at the 13 different programs the Basic Skills Program has to offer. The “Snow Plow Sam Program” has 2 levels and was designed to help the pre-school aged child gain strength and coordination while becoming comfortable on the ice. The “Basic Skills 1-8” program teaches skills such as forward skating, backwards skating, stops, edges, crossovers, mohawks, and turns. When a skater completes all 8 levels they will have a basic knowledge of skating and will move on to more advanced skills. “Hockey Curriculum” is a 4 level program that teaches the fundamentals of ice hockey skating. The program teaches proper skating technique and although hockey skates and an ice Certified hockey helmet are required equipment, no pucks are used. “Adult Curriculum” is a 4 level program designed for the beginning adult skater and teaches proper skating technique while promoting physical fitness along with improving balance and coordination. The “Free Skate Curriculum” is divided into 6 levels in which each level is divided into 4 sections covering moves in the field, spins, dance/footwork sequence, and jumps. At this point, a skater may decide to pursue a competitive path.
The “Dance Curriculum” is a 6 level program that focuses on ice dance techniques and teaches the first 6 ice dance patterns in the USFS test structure. The “Synchronized Skating Curriculum” is a 4 level program that introduces the skater to the circle, wheel, intersection/transition, line, and block, which are the 5 basic skills of synchronized skating. The “Pairs Curriculum” is a 6 level program in which the skater must have passed the Basic 8 level or be recommended by a class instructor in order to participate. Each level is divided into sections and will cover handholds and positions, moves in the field, individual spins, pair spins, side-by-side jumps, and lifts.
After completing, Pairs level 6, the skaters will have a strong foundation to build upon and the program can be used as a preparation to the U.S. Figure Skating Pairs preliminary pairs test. “Artistry in Motion (AIM) Curriculum” is a 4 level program in which the skater must have passed the Basic 8 level. The program teaches the basic principles and philosophy of choreography and teaches the fundamentals of body alignment, movement, lines, facial expressions, arm movements, extensions, and music interpretation. The “Speed Curriculum” is a 6 level program for skaters that have completed Basic Skills 1-4. Skaters are taught basic edges, turns, starts, and speed development and will be ready to race after completing all 6 levels. The “Theatre On Ice Curriculum” uses choreography, movements, and the skaters will create programs to be skated using the four themes: Joy, Fear, Anger, and Growth. The “Special Olympic Badge Program” and “Therapeutic 1-14” program teaches skaters, who are mentally and/or physically challenged, skating skills while providing the benefit of healthy exercise and fun. The USFS Basic Skills program offers many programs for many different skaters of all ages, levels, and abilities. A skater may choose to continue on through the Basic Skills Program levels or choose to take a more competitive path.
The USFS offers a more competitive structure, which is geared toward a skater moving forward toward qualifying competitions at the local, regional, sectional, national levels, and beyond. At the competitive level, a skater will test both in Moves in the Field and Free Skate. Once a skater passes a Free Skate level they will be qualified to compete at that level and not below. A skater may continue to test and pass the Moves in the Field levels without it affecting qualification of competition levels. Once a skater completes the Senior Moves in the Field test and Senior Free Skate test they will earn a Gold Medal, in each, from USFS.
Let’s take a look at the competitive levels. The single skater test and competition levels are Pre-preliminary, Preliminary, Pre-juvenile (14 years old and under), Intermediate (18 years old and under), Novice, Junior, and Senior. Pair skater test and competition levels are Pre-juvenile (under 14 years old), Juvenile (under 16 years old), Intermediate (under 18 years old), Novice, Junior, and Senior. Ice Dance skater test and competition levels are Pre-juvenile (under 14 years old), Juvenile (under 16 years old), Intermediate (under 18 years old), Novice, Junior, and Senior. Synchronized skater test and competition levels are Preliminary (under 10 years old), Pre-juvenile (under 12 years old), Open juvenile (under 19 years old), Juvenile (under 13 years old), Intermediate (under 18 years old), Novice (under 16 years old with 4 team members 16-17), Junior (older than 12 but younger than 19 years old), and Senior (older than 14 years old). Each level has test element and competition element requirements that they must complete as well as program time length requirements. The USFS also offers competitive paths for Adult singles, Adult Pairs, and Adult Ice Dancers. A skater participating at the Adult level must be over the age of 21. Although there is no age limit for Novice, Junior, and Senior levels for single, pair, or ice dance skaters, the college student may decide to participate in a Collegiate Program which is represented by skaters of many different levels. Some Collegiate skaters started skating when they were very young while others just start to skate while in college. Collegiate skating provides opportunity to participate in intercollegiate team competitions, synchronized skating, U.S. Collegiate Championships or staying involved in the sport as a coach, judge, or other official. United States Figure Skating has something for every competitive skater from the beginner to the most advanced skater.
United States Figure Skating Basic Skills Program offers 13 different programs that provide a safe and fun environment where skaters learn the fundamentals of skating. Skaters can advance through the different levels and build a strong foundation in which they can continue to build upon no matter which discipline or path they choose. For skaters that choose a competitive path, USFS provides a solid structure for training and advancement in several disciplines. USFS is the path for the top single, pair, and ice dance competitors to advance to the U.S. Junior Championships (Juvenile and Intermediate levels), U.S. Championships (Novice, Junior, and Senior levels), and for Senior level skaters- International competitions, Worlds, and the Olympics.