Nov 29, 2012

Is someone cheating?

Here's a great phrase a friend of mine likes to use:
Assume Positive Intentions

If you go through the day under the premise that people basically aren't jerks, you'll be a lot happier.

Granted, people cheat. People especially cheat to get their darlings the gold ring.

Just ask Honey Boo Boo.
Here's a question from a reader:
I was wondering whether a skater who had taken her pre pre Free Skate test in January could compete at a lower level after her test results are posted by USFS. She took the test in January, and the competition was in March.  She is competing at the next competition at no test again, against my daughter's friend. Should I report her?
 Well, no.

Don't report her.

First of all, don't get involved in someone else's fight. Second of all, assume positive intentions.

In a situation like this, you can contact the club that is running the competition and ask for a clarification of the rules. Note I don't say- "tell them someone is cheating and here is why." Just ask what the rules are.  In the case above, it may be that the application and the test just crossed in the mail, it may be that the club had to combine events or age groups because of under-enrollment. What is NOT happening is cheating, because it simply doesn't happen in this way, plus cheating at all at USFS competitions is vanishingly rare, especially at the non-qualifying level. The more common "cheat" is for coaches to sandbag their kids--not allow them to test so that they can compete and win at the no test levels. If this skater is testing, then she is doing it right.

Don't forget that clubs are run by volunteers. Mistakes happen, rule misapplication happens, and kids win (and lose) competitions for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with their actual test level.

The worst thing you can do is worry about who is winning non-quals. They don't count. Their purpose is to give kids experience at competing, and apparent unfairness of this sort is exactly the kind of situation that strengthens them for when they go to the "show."

The only thing a parent should be worrying about  at competitions (and this includes the show!) is whether the kid got enough rest, enough food, enough lead time at the site, and has all her/his stuff in their skating bag.

That's enough to worry about.


  1. I have run local competitions. Yes we are volunteers and yes we have jobs outside of skating and make mistakes. One other thing I learned was that judges often ask questions about things like this. I have had judges ask to see registration forms etc... Xan is right, let the system work it out.

    1. I love this reply. It basically means trust the judges (a good lesson in any case). If they see something really out of whack, they'll look into it. Further, coaches will sometimes challenge a score (this is rare at the local non-quals, and will more often happen at the big club events and the Qualifying levels), which will also trigger this sort of inquiry. Stay out of it, even if it's your kid.

  2. I wouldn't say anything b/c it is the club/judges job. Perhaps she should be competing at Ltd Prepre, but the test for prepre freeskate and what is expected in a prepre program are worlds apart and the child may have taken the prepre fs test but still not be able to compete at that level. Clearly she shouldn't have taken the test before being ready to compete, but it might be an innocent mistake. That is why a lot of competitions offer Prepre test track and Ltd prepre b/c the elements in a Prepre FS test are nothing like what is expected from skaters competing in the prepre and perhaps this child isn't really ready to compete at that level even though she took the test. The elements in the test are more equivalent with Freeskate 2/3/4, but in competition, kids are doing axel combinations and combination spins, etc. There is a great disparity between what is required for the test and what is expected in competition, so perhaps the child really isn't ready to compete at that level.

    1. Out of synch test and competition levels is also a mark of an insecure or inexperienced coach. Which, again, is not your problem unless it's your coach.

  3. I agree with Xan, if the skater/coach really wanted to "cheat" all they'd have to do is *not* have her take the PrePre test. And since coaches have to sign the forms both for the tests and for USFS competitions, it's not like the parents or skater could be doing this without the coach's knowledge.

    Either it's legit, or it's an innocent mistake, or there's something else going on, but regardless if the parent says anything, all that's likely to happen is that the parent and/or her skater look like "bad sports".

  4. This exact same thing happened last year to my DD's friend. I disagree with xan. But I did ask for opinions. And here is what I did. What I did is inquire to the chair whether there was a mistake made. Let them investigate. What happened in my case is that the skater was then put into the correct level (pre-pre also). Well came competition day, the skater was withdrawn. So in my case, the circumstantial evidence pointed to cheating. Anyhow, as Xan said, mistakes do happen and I put myself in the friend's place: if someone had an opportunity to correct a mistake and did not I would be really upset with them. I want to stress it is VERY possible it was a mistake and just a simple inquiry to ask if the event is correct is no accusation of cheating.

  5. also I forgot to add, I got an email from the chair thanking me for catching it.