Competition is a fun experience for most skaters, although daunting at first , competitive figure skating also can teach children valuable life skills - organisation, dedication to practice, patience learning difficult skills, managing nerves etc.
It is also a very social opportunity to meet skaters from other clubs as well as spending time with their own club members several times a year. Young skaters form wide social networks through figure skating and many develop life long friendships with people who share their love of skating.
Once skaters have the basic skate skills they can then choose to skate competitively, however this is not a requirement to enter the QISC Club.
The NZIFSA (New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Association ) oversees all competition and testing and in NZ we follow the ISU rules. Skaters can also opt to just testing official tests which are skill based if they do not wish to compete but want to progress their skating. Full information can be found on the NZIFSA website but the following is a brief outline of how competitions work.
For singles skating Children work their way through the following grades in order
Beginner, Pre elementary, Elementary, Juvenile, Basic Novice, Intermediate Novice, Advanced Novice, Junior. Senior (this is the level Olympic athletes compete at)
Generally skaters under the age of 12 compete in mixed gender grades.
Ice dance and pairs are also an option for interested skaters and have their own specific rules and tests.
To move up a grade there are two sets of associated tests - stroking tests which are specific skill based tests and free skate tests -which are usually the competitive routine a skater performs to music and has specific elements (skating jumps , spins etc) for each level.
Adult skaters have their own separate set of grades from beginner equivalent levels but are named slightly differently eg bronze, silver , gold and are age divided also
In order to compete and test skaters must be a member of a club affiliated to NZIFSA and will generally need a lot of practice with a trained figure skating coach to learn the skating skills needed for competition and testing. Skaters also pay an annual Testing and Competition fee (TC registration) to the national body (NZIFSA) as well as local competition and testing fees for each respective competition or test.