Nov 12, 2010

Observing a test session

I've been to a LOT of test sessions. Somewhere around 60 just between me and my daughter (between us nine moves plus retries, ten USFS Free Skate plus retries, six ISI FS, two Figures, and twenty-eight dances plus retries). But I've always been the skater, or the mom.

Today I went to a test session as part of my prep for the PSA ratings I'm currently working on- Registered Moves, Registered Free Skate, Master Group, to watch with an objective eye (okay, I tried to be objective.) (Okay, not really), to help me learn the elements and to call the skills like a technical specialist, if just to myself.

There was only one skater there that I knew, so the objectivity part was easy. I recognized all of the coaches, but I fly a little under the radar here, so I'm pretty sure none of them recognized me. Even though Nora tested with this club, I don't think the moms register all that much so they don't really know me. So I was able to be fairly anonymous.

First observation: when you walk into a test session everyone in the lobby snaps around to glare WHO THIS? Then faces fall and they all lose interest because it's no one interesting. I mean it. It was so bizarre, and something I'd never noticed before, (since I was probably one of the ones doing this), that I tested it a couple of times. Weird.

Second observation: watching a test session that you're not involved in is a little strange. The people in the stands, and the coaches outside the boards kept looking over at me WHO THIS? so I finally found a less conspicuous place to sit. (Maybe they did recognize me and were wondering what I was doing there-- stealing students?)

Third observation: if you come with the toddler sister for god's sake shut her up. Several poor girls had to skate through their entire moves test with a toddler louding demanding attention, candy, potty, access to forbidden areas, ice skates and you name it at the top of her voice for the entire time they were skating. The judges glaring at you is a really good clue that you should maybe, um, leave? Okay, maybe if the toddler shouts once or twice, but she kept it up for nearly 15 minutes before mom got a freaking clue and took her away. It's nerve-wracking out there folks, please remove unnecessary distractions.

Fourth observation: it's really cold sitting there for two hours. Judges are saints.

Fifth observation: they passed kids who looked terrible and failed kids who looked fine to me. They passed a kid on a reskate who made the identical error on the reskate that she made on the test. Or else I have no idea what I'm seeing, a distinct possibility.

Sixth observation
: if your skating sucks, it helps to have a famous coach stand with you at your test. Just as a general observation. I didn't actually witness this. Or anything.

Seventh observation: "Calling" the elements is fun, and hard. I tried to use the IJS abbreviations, ending up with several lines of code that look like this: (tr) SpUL, 1A, (tr) 1T, (tr)1Lz1TCo, SpCoCSU, StSeqSS, 1L, (tr) ChSp CoSpCSChCUL (that's verbatim from my notes, so if there are errors in coding forgive me). This was a Juvenile Free Skate, and it was damned hard, plus I can't figure out how/if they code all the transitions that were present even in these very low-level programs. I invented the little (tr) code to indicate where transitional steps were inserted. Even Juvenile programs have a lot of content these days.

Eighth and final observation: Skater gurlz have a lot of poise and self-possession. I'd choose them to take on any little hockey princess in full-body armor any day.

What's the craziest thing that has happened to you at a test?


  1. Thanks for this post, it was really informative! Craziest thing that's happened to me at a test is crashing into the boards...woops.

  2. I wasn't at this test session but I WISH I was. A friend took his Gold moves as the last test of a session, just before a minor league hockey game. There were also a few girls doing higher level (novice maybe?) freeskate tests at the end of the session.

    By this time, the crowds started piling in for the game, and cheered them on for the whole tests as if it were a show. Since both of the girls are performance skaters, I'm sure it helped them, and the guy who did moves said he's sure he bored the crowd (they still cheered him) but that he LOVED it because he knew the judges couldn't hear a single scratch. (That's why I wish I had been there- my coach often joked about paying friends to go stand not too far from the judges and have a loud arguement during my tests so I don't sound as scratchy.) For those used to super quiet tests it was probably horrible, but for those of us who skate at the mall, and are used to the "fishbowl" practices- it was probably somewhat comforting.

    Other out of the ordinary occurence- judge stepping out of the box on a pre-pre test, grabbing a marker and showing a skater what the waltz-8 looked like. The skater did not pass (he had other errors as well), but it was very kind to give him a hand when he couldn't remember.

  3. Skittl, that's great. In fact, I've been working on a post "what if hockey dads came to figure skating competitions!"

  4. A thunderstorm blew in during the test session and the lights went out. The skater kept skating, but the judges finally asked her to stop because they couldn't really see her.