Oct 24, 2011


(with apologies to Wikipedia)

Skatism, also known as skating discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's skating background that directly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas.

It is a form of discrimination or devaluation based on a person's skating ability or level of training, with such attitudes being based on beliefs that what you knew or could do at the age of 17 is the most you can ever hope to achieve. The term skatism is most often used in relation with discrimination against adult-onset skaters, especially those who desire to teach, in the context of high school as peak experience, or against recreational and low-test youth skaters in the context of also having a life.

Skatism involves hatred of, or prejudice towards a class of skaters as a whole or the blind application of skating stereotypes. Skatism is often associated with coaching-supremacy arguments, and in peer-group dynamics.

In philosophy, a skatist attitude is one which suggests human beings can be understood or judged on the basis of the essential characteristics of the group to which an individual belongs—in this case, their skating group, as former competitors or high test skaters, as opposed to, um, everybody else. This assumes that all individuals fit into the category of skater or non skater, and that this is the only useful defining characteristic.

Occupational skatism refers to any discriminatory practices, statements, actions, etc. based on a person's skating background that are present or occur in a place of employment. This can manifest as wage discrimination, seniority assignment, access to choice class levels, exclusion from high-status groups, etc.

At many rinks, skating discrimination – i.e. the unequal treatment of equally productive individuals only because they belong to a specific group; or the favoring of non-productive individuals because they belong to the "right" group – is still a crucial factor inflating disparities in employment, participation in program activities, and the quality of job and skating opportunities. While employment and youth-sports rules generally require that individuals participating under the same job or program description be treated equally, in practice this is difficult to enforce.

Have you encountered skatism at your rink?


  1. So does this explain the Adult Governing Council at USFSA who keep making Adult Moves harder and harder to pass unless you skated as a kid? Most adults drop out at Adult Silver.

    Does this explain my rink ignoring the huge number of adult learners (more than half are male) because 'they didn't skate as kids'.

    Does this explain why the USFSA Adult LTS is horrible--unless you skated as a child? Does this explain why there's no 'footwork/dance' track after Basic 8 for Adults to go to?

    Yeah, I know skatism. It's costing the rinks and USFSA money.

  2. @Anon: I can't answer most of your questions, because I haven't encountered those particular problems -- but I can tell you that there is a USFSA Dance track that teaches all the basic dance patterns, and that is certainly open to adults. I had an LTS coach pushing me to go that route (I assume because I am an adult-onset skater and she figured I wouldn't want the jumps & spins of the FS track). The Dance track isn't separate for adults, any more than the FS track is, but it is certainly something adults in which adults can (in theory) participate. I can't speak to the culture at your rink, obviously, but at mine, there are several coaches who really like adult skaters and are very encouraging, and are completely willing to take them through that track. Hope this helps...

  3. @Anon.. I actually thought they made the APB MIT easier by taking the FI3s off it; and it never made sense to me that the spirals were on the Silver test when they are on Pre-Pre. The rest of the changes to the tests seemed to me to correspond to similar changes made in the standard track.

    I thought the Adult LTS curriculum was too oriented toward dance when I took it (actually it was kind of a mix of Adult and Basic 1-8). I didn't think it was oriented toward child skaters though -- what aspects of it strike you that way?

  4. I actually really like the USFS Adult basic skills curriculum-- I always use it even in ISI rinks; I think it makes much more sense for adult skaters.

    The APB inside/outside 3s pattern however was a loser. MUCH more difficult than alternating 3s which it replaced, and not nearly as useful or intuitive simply as basic skating. I believe they have now changed it again, but I'm not sure what they replaced it with.

    I think the bigger manifestation of skatism is basing ALL skating accolades on your test level, and not taking into account other contributions to a given program--volunteer hours, commitment to the sport, consistent participation in classes, practice, and shows, etc.

    It infuriates me when a hard-working, long-time skater who hasn't achieved the top test level cannot ever get choice parts in ice shows, for instance, while a skater who does the bare minimum to qualify but has a high test can. In a recreational, local facility, your skating level should never be the only, or even the most important, measure of value or achievement.

    I believe that skatism is much more prevalent at the local than the national level. USFS actually does pretty well at honoring the whole skater, and providing program support to individual rinks to take the more broad-based approach.

  5. So, basically the coach with a good resume gets a better job and an adult skater shouldn't be allowed to coach a high level international team? I am APALLED by this skatism!

  6. Anon at 7:29.
    Gustave Lussi coach of Dick Button, Donald Jackson, Ronald Robertson, Ronald Ludington, Barbara Ann Scott, David Jenkins, Hayes Jenkins, Dorothy Hamill (during her novice years), John Misha Petkevich, and John Curry, was not a skater. He was a skier.

  7. I just want to show all your loyal followers what on this site is actually true and what isn't. If a person can't even write what's true about themselves how can they write about something they don't know and give advice to them on how to succeed in a profession she wasn't successful in. Your daughter Nora never even competed regional s, much less the "national" competitions you claim she has. She passed only up to freestyle 7 and took a few USFSA test. "Xanboni" tried to pass her USFSA Master Rated in group class test several times. That's how much she knows about figure skating :)

  8. oh and i left out she failed the test SEVERAL times

  9. Clearly Master is not a skating expert or they would know that ice dancers do not need to compete at regionals - they go to sectionals and nationals only (rule 2493). You can easily verify that Nora skated at junior nationals by reading the results from the USFS website.

    (I should not be feeding the trolls)

  10. Wow, reality check time for Master. Are you for real? Can you only teach things if you are a "master"? Say goodbye to our school system. I am not a graduate of juilliard or a international prize winner, I don't own a stradivarius, but I still *horrors* teach children the violin. I guess I'll just stop now!
    I am definitely a loyal follower. I can depend on Xan to write funny and interesting things, and answer any questions I have. I do not define a skating coach by their daughter's success either. Do you do that to all parents? And just how many loyal followers do you have exactly?
    It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out coming to a person's own blog and making negative comments is not going to be well received. Plus this is the internets- if you're going to insult someone you'd better step up your game. If you're really trying and not just joking that was laughably bad.

  11. I don't know how you teach violin, do what you want. But for a skating coach to be a skating coach she/he has to have skated. Also I wasn't judging her as a parent based off of her daughters ability to skate I was referencing her about xan page haha. She lied there. Just saying, how can you learn from someone who isn't even honest about the perceptives they've viewed skating in? Ice dance isn't figure skating so what right does she have to teach about FIGURE skating?

  12. Yikes--who is writing these nasty comments? Maybe to coach a potential national or international medalist, you have to be a former competitive skater, but how many budding Olympians are there at the local rink? And if they are there, they won't be there for long.

  13. Like orangechiffon, I too am a loyal follower of Xanboni, and she writes with authority on all sorts of topics of skating. And they're entertaining too. From coaching philosophy, to skating equipment, to competitions and shows and several other topics, we know much more because of Xan.

    I have encountered skatism often as a show skater. I was never considered as qualified as a coach at my old local rink. Somehow adding fishnets and false eyelashes meant I couldn't show skaters how to do an axel anymore.

    To me, the bottom line is figure skating coaches (the employees) are in direct competition with each other. That never makes for a cordial work environment. Add in the fact that coaches are inside a cold, wet environment first thing in the morning and late at night, while their "office" is often a cramp, musty, old locker room near the Zamboni fumes and it is amazing coaches stick with it. Why do they? It's good money.

    So when coaches feel like a skater could pick another coach over them, that's money that could go to their pocket going directly to someone else. So it a tendency for coaches to eliminate certain other teachers - adult skaters, show skaters, not-so-serious older teenagers to up their chances of getting potential students.

    My thoughts are that adult skaters make the best teachers because they are learning skills when they are old enough theorize the movements and verbally translate the skills to others. Just my two cents.

  14. Uh-oh, Xan. Looks like you've stirred up the sock puppets. That usually only happens when you've hit a nerve. Rarely are the righteously angry as righteous as they'd like to think.

    However, you will brush up on your perceptives, won't you? Thanks. ;-)

    As for skatism, well...I used to be bugged by a certain type of skatism, but was lucky enough to have another venue near enough that I could make an easy transition. From that perceptive, I was able to see that it wasn't really skatism in that situation, but moreso limited resources - and that was not going to change - going toward what the majority needed. However, if I didn't have another place to go, well...I wonder how understanding I would be now. You know?

  15. There's another kind of skatism that operates at local rinks, which is at least worth mentioning, I think: the skatism that gives total preference all the time to hockey over figure skating because hockey makes more money for the rink. We had a local rink's THRIVING figure skating program close down completely because the rink kicked them out to make room for more hockey time. All the arguments in the world that this was essentially privileging boys' sports over girls (yes, I know, both sexes play both, but we all know who the predominance is in both arenas) did nothing. Hockey boys pay more than figure skating girls, so hockey boys get ALL the ice. Fortunately, in Michigan, there are a lot of rinks not too far apart, so many of the coaches and kids moved to another rink nearby. But not all of them. And the program has had to restart under new management and has thus been slow to get momentum. There are no holiday shows, no adult groups, no public ice on weekends for lower-level LTS kids to practice. It's an uphill battle. On ice. And you know how hard it is to skate uphill...

  16. PS @Josette "Looks like you've stirred up the sock puppets" completely cracks me up. Pitch-perfect for deflating the bombast.

  17. I will put up a post refuting each of "Master"'s comments, but in the meantime, thank you everyone for your support. I suspect that this is retaliation for my disagreeing with a management decision at my old rink, and for taking exception to members of the staff there spreading other, even more damaging false rumors about me. Although I only confronted the individuals concerned in private, apparently quitting is the cardinal sin. I really don't want to have to moderate comments on this site, but if the slander continues I will have to.

    To claim that I have tried to pass myself off as a Master Rated coach is absolutely false, and is an inexcusable slander, accusing me of directly violating PSA ethics and potentially threatening my rating. If this individual thinks he or she has documentation proving this, I invite him or her to file a formal grievance with the PSA.

  18. @Master

    It's a good thing Xan got left the rink she was at; gets her away from people like you, someone who is clearly from that same rink. I hate to think (and know) that someone like you, who spends their free time on internet blogs trying to put people down with false statements, is in charge of and/or responsible for, the livelihood of a child.

    Sorry, but you're outnumbered and outwitted on this blog as far as people who support what Xan is trying to accomplish.

  19. Christopher HylandOctober 25, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Dear Master:

    I try to make it a point not to comment on these sites but I just couldn't let this go unanswered. First of all, whatever your feelings about Xan and her skatism piece you crossed a line when you attacked her daughter. You might want to check your facts before you try to tell the "truth" to her readers. Nora IS a USFS triple gold medalist. She has completed her USFS Senior freestyle, Senior moves-in-the-field and gold pattern dance tests. She has also passed some international pattern dances and a couple of freedance tests. She HAS competed nationally at the intermediate level, AND went through regionals to get there. (With respect to AMS - rule 2493 didn't exist yet. ) How do I know this? I COACHED HER AT THOSE EVENTS.

    As for your attack on Xan... You might want to take a closer look at her bio. She says she is WORKING on her master rating in group instruction NOT that she has passed it.

    If you disagree with something Xan has written and want to debate a point with her that's one thing, but to make a personal attack is quite another.

  20. @master

    Until you tell us your name and your bio in at least as much verifiable detail as the information we know about Xan, and then give us several years of informative, funny and clever blogging on the subject to give us any reason to be interested in your opinion, the only thing that we can presume is that you were one of the a*****s who forced her out of her previous rink and that you are trying to continue the damage on here. If you want to make comments about Xan have the guts to identify yourself.

    Otherwise go back under your bridge and stop bothering the rest of us - we have made our judgement about Xan based on her behaviour here - which is why we are here supporting her. We have absolutely no interest in the self-serving sniping of an anonymous nobody.

  21. Is "Master" brave enough to give his/her real name? I doubt it. This is typical of the mentality at the rink Xan recently left. And what kind of pathetic jerk attacks an offspring?? Sounds to me like "Master" is threatened by the skatism post. Hmmm, I wonder why?