I almost never hear negative stories about the big adult competitions. Whatever it is that ISI and USFS is doing for the adults, they are apparently getting it right.
A great experience at adult competition starts with a coach who understands adults. And where do you find them? In classes. Here are some of the things to looks for:
For a lot of adult-onset athletes, the community and the friendships (or the shared misery) are almost as important as the skill. Look for a "Cheers" class- where everybody knows your name.
A lot of rinks crowbar the adult classes into the ice times that no one else wants. Look for a rink with mid-evening, weekend morning (Saturday or Sunday), and Sunday evening classes, as well as the more typical weekday midday times, and you've got a winner.
I was stunned to find out that not all ice shows include their adult skaters! And then I looked at the program and, yup, not very adult friendly. An ice show number for adults says "we care about this part of our program."
A lot of younger coaches hate teaching adults. I hear this again and again. They think it's weird to teach someone their mother's age. And you know what? It is. A program with experienced coaches teaching adults is a good sign.
A great adult coach will let the skater set the pace more than for a kid. But only up to a point. Adults are notorious for stopping just shy of their comfort level. A good adults coach can push this limit back without triggering the fear response.
Are the same coaches who have adults in privates the ones teaching the adult classes? If so, you've found coaches who like teaching adults. If the adult class coach has no adult private students, that coach might as well hang a big red flag saying "I'm not good with adults."
A famous skater at a local rink actually killed a fairly robust adult program because the adult skaters hated the coach so much. They begged the skating director not to assign this coach. Director wouldn't listen, so they stopped taking the classes. End of program.
What clued you in that you'd found a great adult coach, or someone who should NOT be teaching adults?