Skater’s Guide

Revised April 2015

Introduction

The world of skating can be confusing for parents of young skaters.  As your skater progresses, there is a transition from the group structure of CanSkate to the STARSkate program, which introduces both parents and skaters to a whole new world.  However, all skaters do not take the same path when progressing from CanSkate.  This guide is intended to help you decide the best route of progression for your skater. This guide will also be useful to explain the basics about competitions, test days and other STARSkate events if your child decides to move into the STARSkate program.

CanSkate

CanSkate is Skate Canada’s marquee program. The CanSkate program will be taught the same way in most skating clubs across the country.  If you are new to this club or will be leaving the club, your child’s CanSkate level should be transferable with any club in Canada.

CanSkate is a dynamic, learn to skate program designed for beginners of all ages. The focus of CanSkate is on fun, participation and basic skill development. There are 6 stages in the CanSkate program. Participants earn badges and ribbons at each level as skills are mastered.  To receive a badge for  level, skaters will have to earn 3 ribbons at that level. Skaters are taught in group lessons which are led by Skate Canada Professional Coaches and supported by trained Program Assistants.

Some skaters may choose to complete all 6 stages of the CanSkate program.  Upon completion of stage 6 your skater will have learned a lifelong skill and be confident skating with others. Some skaters will then choose to enter the STARSkate, SyncroSkate or CanPowerSkate programs to continue developing their skating skills.

Other skaters will choose to move from the CanSkate program into STARSkate or CanPowerSkate before finishing the full CanSkate program. There is no rule on when is the best time to move between the programs.  The decision is best made by looking at your child’s interest in skating as well time and financial commitments. Children interested in learning to play hockey will move toward the CanPowerSkate program, whereas children who are interested in learning figure skating are encouraged to become involved in the STARSkate program.

STARSkate

STAR=Skills, Tests, Achievement, and Recognition

STARSkate is a Skate Canada program that offers opportunities for skaters of all ages to develop fundamental figure skating skills in the areas of

1) Ice Dance

2) Skating Skills

3) Free skate

4) Interpretative

The STARSkate program teaches figure skating with a small group and/or private lesson format in a progressive and systematic manner that includes opportunity to take Skate Canada tests through a nationally standardized testing program.  STARSkaters may also participate in competitions. STARSkaters with the Prince of Wales club are divided into different programs depending on their abilities as established by successfully completed STARSkate tests (Pre-Junior, Junior, Intermediate and Senior).

Pre-junior

Pre-junior is a learn-to-figure skate program.  It is the next step up from CanSkate for a skater who is interested in learning skills specific to figure skating.  Skaters can enter the Pre-junior program once they have successfully completed Stage 3 of the CanSkate program.  The Pre-Junior program is a group session taught by Skate Canada Professional Coaches and supported by trained Program Assistants.

Currently, there is only one Pre-Junior session offered each week.  Some skaters wish to skate more than once a week at this level.  For skaters who have passed CanSkate Stage 3, it is recommended that the second session be a CanSkate session.  For skaters who have passed Stage 4 or higher, a CanSkate session or a Junior session can be added as a second session.  For skaters choosing to skate in the Junior program, a private coach is required. (See further information below). As moving from group lessons to private coaching is a big step for young skaters, it is best to seek the advice of one of the clubs Professional Coaches regarding the best placement for your child. Skaters entering the Junior program must be motivated to practice skills independently for part of each session.  Not all skaters are ready for this step and therefore may benefit from more time in a group setting ( ie. CanSkate).

If your skater is interested in learning figure skating skills in the pre-junior program but has not yet passed CanSkate Stage 3, you may consider registering your skater for an additional CanSkate session each week.  The extra ice time will help your child progress quickly through the required CanSkate levels.

Junior

Skaters who have passed Stage 4 of the CanSkate program wishing to further develop their figure skating skills may choose to enter the Junior program.   There is no try out for acceptance into this program; however, skaters are required to have a private coach.  On each junior session, a skater will spend some time being instructed by their private coach and spend some time practicing independently.   Coaches who have skaters of similar levels and abilities may choose to offer small group lessons during the Junior session.  At this level, skaters should be skating at least 2 sessions per week but can skate up to four times. Your coach will provide recommendations regarding the frequency of skating suitable for your child.  A list of Professional Coaches with contact information is available on the Prince of Wales website (www.powsc.ca).  It is the responsibility of the parent to arrange a private coach for their skater.  In addition to the session cost paid to the club at registration, parents are also responsible for paying the private coach directly for all time spent with their child.

Intermediate/Senior

As skaters in the Junior program develop more advanced skating skills, the club will move skaters into the Intermediate and Senior programs. This helps keep ice sessions safe, as skaters of similar abilities will skate together.  Moving skaters from the Junior program also allows the club to introduce new skaters to figure skating.

The club uses successful completion of Skate Canada Free Skate tests to determine the program your skater will skate. For the current skating season, skaters skating in the Junior program are working towards Preliminary and Junior Bronze Free Skate tests.  Skaters working towards the Senior Bronze Free Skate test will skate with the Intermediate program.  Once a skater successfully completes the Senior Bronze Free Skate test, he/she will be promoted to the Senior program.

The club has executive members representing the Pre-junior/Junior, Intermediate and Senior programs.  Coordinators are available to answer any questions on their respective programs.  Contact information is available on the web site.

Tests

At the Pre-Junior and Junior STARSkate levels, skaters begin preparing to attempt Skate Canada tests.  Test days are coordinated by the club and usually occur in December and March.  Once your skater has completed a test, he/she will be given a paper copy of the test results for your skater and coach to review.  It is important that you keep all test records in a safe place as proof of all tests passed.

Skaters attempting tests are expected to wear competition outfits.  Girls should wear a skating dress and tights. Boys are expected to wear black skating pants. A sweater without a hood is permitted for warm up.

Tests are attempted in the areas of:

1) Dance: progression of set dances each performed to music.  The dances are learned solo but most dances are tested with a partner, usually a coach at the beginner levels.  In some situations, a male and female skater may learn and test the dances skating together.

2) Skills: set patterns designed to improve skills, edges and turns

3) Free Skate:  There are two parts to all Free Skate tests.  The skater is required to complete a collection of elements (stroking, jumps, spins and field moves like spirals) in isolation and then complete a program skated to music that incorporates many of the same elements.  In order to receive credit for the complete Free Skate test, skaters must successful complete both the elements and program components of the test.  A skater only passing one component of the Free Skate test receives credit for the completed portion but will not be promoted to the next level until both components are successfully completed.

4) Interpretive: a solo program skated to music.  The emphasis is on the interpretation of the music rather than on jumps and spins.

The sequence of test levels for Dance, Skills and Free Skate is as follows:

  • Preliminary
  • Junior Bronze
  • Senior Bronze
  • Junior Silver
  • Senior Silver
  • Gold

Competitions for STARSkaters:

Once a skater enters the STARSkate program, they may choose to participate in competitions.  Competition levels are different than the club program you are skating with (Pre-Junior, Junior etc.) and skaters are placed in a category based on coach recommendation.

STAR 1-3 are the earliest levels of STARSkate competitions (not to be confused with CanSkate Stage1-3).  For STAR 1-3 competitions, the skater is evaluated on a selection of elements, either in isolation (STAR 1) or in a program to music (STAR 2 and 3).  Each element performed is awarded Gold, Silver, Bronze or Merit level by the judges.  The focus is on participation, there are no medals or ranking of skaters.  Skaters are given the opportunity to participate and receive a report card from the evaluators with feedback on ways to improve.

A skater competing in STAR 4 category will perform a program to music and will be given a ranking. Skaters are again evaluated on a selection of elements, and receive a report card from the judges, where each element is awarded Gold, Silver, Bronze or Merit.  This is used to determine the skaters ranking. Skaters competing in the STAR 4 category compete in age groups. Ages for competition are determined by the age of your skater on July 1st of the preceding year. For example, a 10 year old skater born on June 30th will compete as a 10 year old whereas a 10 year old born on July 2nd will compete as a 9 year old because on July 1st the skater was still 9 years old.

A skater competing in the STAR 5 category will skate a program to music and receive a ranking based on a combination of a technical and skating skill scores in the CPC judging system.

Following the STAR categories, skaters can compete in categories reflective of their highest complete Free Skate level.  These categories include Senior Bronze, Junior Silver, Senior Silver and Gold.

For STARSkaters interested in competing, there are a variety of competitions available.  Your coach will discuss appropriate competitions for your skater with you.  Information and applications for all competitions can always be found on the Skate Canada NL website (www.skating.nf.ca). Once your coach suggests a competition for your skater, you will be responsible for obtaining and completing the application, obtaining your coaches signatures and submitting the completed application along with the competition fee to the club by the club deadline.  Your coach will inform you of the club deadline as this will be different from the competition deadline. The club deadline considers the time it will take to submit all applications to the host club by the competition deadline.

For all competitions, your skater is required to have proper competition wear. For females, a skating dress is required along with a warm up sweater/jacket.  Hair should be pulled back into a bun or pony tail. Most girls enjoy wearing a little make up on competition day.  Boys should wear black skating pants and a plain color shirt.  The club recommends black jackets embroidered with the club logo for competition warm up.  In NL, skaters are usually able to complete in Singles, Dance, Pairs and Interpretive.  There may be some exceptions particularly for Invitational competitions.

Competitions include:

1)     Interclub. This is a competition for skaters within the Avalon region.  It is usually the competition where most of the skaters get their first competition experience.  Coaches will attend the competition with their skaters.  You will be responsible to pay your coach while they are at the competition with your child.

2)     Divisionals.  Skaters from Prince of Wales compete in the Eastern Divisionals. There are also Western and Labrador Divisional competitions. Skaters from STAR 3 to Gold can compete.   Skaters may have to travel to compete, depending on the host club.  If you have to travel, you will be responsible for paying for your coaches expenses while he/she travels to the competition.  If your coach is travelling to the competition with more than one skater, the expenses will be split among all skaters.

3)     Provincials: The top 8 skaters in STAR 4 and higher at Divisionals qualify to compete in the Provincial competition. Travel is often involved and this competition usually occurs over 3 days. Skaters representing the club at provincials are usually provided with a small travel grant in recognition for their achievement.

4)     Skate Atlantica.  The top 6 skaters in each STAR 5 and higher at Provincials are eligible to participate in the Atlantic Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  This competition is usually held near the end of March.  It is a chance for skaters from NL to compete against the best skaters in the other Atlantic Provinces.

5)     STAR Provincials.  This competition is for skaters competing in STAR 1-3 categories. Like provincials, this is a province wide competition so travel may be required.  If travel is required for this meet, many coaches of young skaters may opt to have skaters participate in local competitions instead of participating at the provincials.

6)     Invitational Competitions.  These competitions may be offered throughout the year.  Not all categories are offered at all competitions.  Your coach will advise you if your skater is eligible.

The yearly competition schedule is posted on the Skate Canada NL website by May/June of the preceding year.  It is always a good idea to check the competition schedule before making travel plans.  It is recommended that accommodations are booked well in advance of travel. Lists of competitors and competition schedules are available on the Skate Canada NL website prior to the competition.  Results from all competitions are usually posted on the Skate Canada NL website within a week of the competition.

CompetitiveSkate

CompetitiveSkate is a program for skaters in Singles, Pairs and Ice Dance wishing to compete in qualifying events within Skate Canada.

CanSkate or STARSkaters who want to challenge their figure skating skills and show potential as competitive skaters can participate in the CompetitiveSkate program.  This program will enable skaters with potential to advance from Provincial to National championships and beyond.

Skaters who have passed the complete Junior Bronze Free Skate test are eligible to participate in CompetitiveSkate events, at the recommendation of their coach.  Skating competitively is a time and financial commitment for every family.  Competitive skaters require more training time, competitions and off island travel.  If you are interested in having a skater skate competitively, your coach will provide direction as to whether or not the competitive stream is best for your skater and family. Categories for competitive skate include:

  • Pre-Juvenile (under 11 and under 14)
  • Juvenile (under 11 and under 14)
  • Pre-novice
  • Novice
  • Junior
  • Senior

Competitions for Competitive skaters

Competitive skaters will participate in the Skate Canada Sectional competition in November every year.  The top 4 skaters in the Pre-Novice and above categories qualify to compete in the Skate Canada Challenge competition held in December.  Challenge is the qualifying competition for the Skate Canada National Championship at the Novice and higher levels.

In addition to the competitions specific to CompetitiveSkate, skaters can also participate in Divisional, Provincial, Atlantic and Invitational competitions as long as they enter in their competitive categories.  Competitive skaters are not eligible to compete in STARSkate categories within the same year if they enter Sectionals in a competitive category.  Many skaters may choose to switch between STARSkate and CompetitiveSkate form year to year due to age, progression of skill, other commitments etc.

Synchronized Skating

Synchronized Skating adds a team dimension to an individual sport.   Synchronized skating, or “Synchro” is a specialized discipline of skating involving groups of eight or more skaters who perform choreographed routines to music.  The challenge of synchronized skating for coaches and skaters is the importance of “UNISON”. As in other figure skating disciplines, both the technical and artistic elements are important. The combination of creative choreography, appealing music and attractive costumes make Synchro a great sport for participants and spectators. A focus on fun, participation, friendly competition and lifetime involvement is responsible for Synchronized Skating’s phenomenal growth in Canada.

Skate Canada’s SynchroSkate program includes a number of Synchronized Skating categories which accommodate skaters at any age and skill level. Specific technical requirements have been determined for each level based on skill development and age restrictions. There are no test prerequisites to participate on any level of Synchro team.

Each year, Prince of Wales sends many teams to the NL Provincial competition.  In addition, there is opportunity for Syncro teams to compete in Atlantic and National competitions. In Canada there is one event stream of Synchronized Skating and teams may register for the season in the following levels:

  • Beginner I
  • Beginner II
  • Elementary
  • Juvenile
  • Pre-Novice
  • Novice
  • Intermediate
  • Open
  • Junior
  • Senior
  • Adult I
  • Adult II
  • Adult III

If your skater is interested in participating on a Syncro team, please talk with any of our Professional coaches or our club Synchro coordinator (contact info available on the web site).

Parents Role

Skating can be a consuming and expensive sport.  Parents play a pivotal role.  The best way to help your skater is to get your skater to the rink in time for all sessions.  To make the most of all ice time, your skater should be ready and waiting to enter the ice as soon as the session starts.  This usually requires arriving at least 10-15 minutes ahead of the scheduled start of the session. Informing your coach when your child will be absent or late is always appreciated.  This information helps your coach plan each session so that all skaters get optimal instruction.

Taking time to learn the sport is important.  Spend time in the rink and learn the various jumps, spins, and other skills your skater is working on.  This knowledge will help you talk with your skaters about practice, competitions and tests and will allow you to make informed decisions in consultation with your skaters’ coach. Spending time at the rink also lets your skater know that you are interested in their sport, their achievements and their goals.

Parents should remember that the Professional Coach is the best judge of your skater’s progress.  Parents should observe the coach and skater interaction to make sure your coach is a good match for your child.  It is important to develop a rapport with your child’s coach and understand the coach’s view of your skater’s abilities and progress.  Coaches are open to discussing progress and issues, however it is best to approach a coach outside of skating times so that you are not taking time away from other skaters working with your coach.

Parents should ensure that bills from your coach are paid in a timely fashion.  Most coaches will bill on a biweekly or monthly basis.  It is important that your skater maintain “good standing” within the club.  Failure to pay coaching fees and other fees associated with skating events may result in removal of “good standing” status.  As a result your child will not be able to participate in competitions, tests, seminars and off season schools.

Finally, the Prince of Wales skating club is run by volunteers.  There are many ways to volunteer including assisting with the ice show, assisting with test days and competitions or serving on the executive.  If you are interested in volunteering please inform your coach or a current member of the executive.  We will find a way to put your skills to use!

Other events to be aware of

Off season schools

Prince of Wales skating club offers skating sessions from October to March each year.  Most skaters in STARSkate and CompetitiveSkate choose to participate in off season schools. Information on off season schools can be found on the Skate Canada NL website, usually in February/March.  As these sessions fill up quickly, it is important to be aware of application deadlines. Late applications are seldom accepted.

Spring (6 weeks) and fall (4 weeks) skating sessions are offered through the Avalon Region.  All sessions are offered from the Glacier, Mt. Pearl.  Your skater will still skate with their private coach but will skate with skaters from other clubs.  This is a great way for your skater to meet other skaters, many of whom they will compete against and take tests with for many years.  Test days are offered at the end of both spring and fall sessions.

In addition to Spring and Fall off season sessions, Skate Canada NL offers a Summer Skating Academy for 6 weeks in July and August. The Summer program is currently held at Twin Rinks.  In addition to on ice sessions, skaters participating in the summer program fill their day with off ice and dance sessions. Guest coaches from other clubs in Canada are often available for choreography and technical development. Guest lessons are booked as part of the application process.

CanSkate and/or Pre-Junior sessions are offered as part of all off-season schools.

Seminars

The club, Regions and NL Section offer seminars to skaters.  Some seminars will be open to all skaters; some will require a minimum age/test level while other seminars will be by invite only.  Your coach will inform you of any seminars that your skater is qualified to attend.  Most seminars are led by experienced coaches from elsewhere in the country.

Ice show

The Prince of Wales Skating Club enjoys recognizing the many achievements of our skaters in the form of an Ice Show.  The show usually occurs in March at the end of the winter skating session.  All CanSkate, STARSkate, CanPowerSkate and CompetitiveSkate members of the club are invited to participate. Some of the practices will occur during the last few regular skating times however a few extra practices are always required.