This is not a drill.

As those of you who are in, or compete in, the Southern California area know; I volunteer at a lot of different competitions.

I do this for a lot of reasons:
1) I like to get a chance to see the local kids skate throughout the year.
2) I enjoy my friendships with the moms and officials and like to get a chance to see everyone and catch up.
3) I like to see how other clubs run their competitions to see what we could do better at ours. Or just to share tips with everyone.
4)I like to get the people who I helped all year to help me at my competition.

Before you (the competitors) arrive at the door; here is a small list of what has already happened:

Sometimes I feel as if it is not clear to those who haven’t been on the “inside” of making a competition happen just how much has to happen:

The club starts the year by coordinating its competition date with all the other clubs in the area, avoiding holidays, official’s schools, big summer competitions and any other conflicting event. They select a referee and chief accountant that are available for their date. Then they created the announcement, submit it to USFS, and get a sanction. They will also have reserved and paid for the ice they think they will need, and set the prices to try to cover that cost (around $350-$425 per hour).

We have Entryeeze create the competition site. Decide when entries will close. Build events that are new or different than the prior year. Update all the contact info and make sure the bank connection is working.

Invite the judges and tech panel people you want to use. This is a lot of back and forth e-mailing to see who is available on what days. See who needs hotel rooms. Book a block of hotel rooms, hopefully at a discount, as this is where a lot of revunue vanishes . Arrange air travel if any need it.

Find somone to run hospitality. They have to order all the food for the judges and coaches, get all the warming trays and supplies organized and solicit donations from people and restaurants to keep the budget down.

While the competition is open for entries, the registrar keeps track of the entries, help people who make errors when entering, answer questions about the schedule, practice ice and any other thing that comes up. The referee is the final decision maker on a lot of the technical things that might come up (combining levels, what time things will run, etc…)

We order suppplies to make the goody bags – or one nice gift. We get gifts for the judges. We make sure the accountants have paper and toner cartrodges. We harass everyone to volunteer on the day of the competition and create the volunteer sign up. We check to make sure the coaches are all “certified”. We make badges for everyone. We order trophies or medals and ribbons. And lord help the clubs who also are doing programs. That is a whole other full time job. Selling ads. Collecting photos. Getting the schedule info.

The referee makes the event schedule and schedules the judges and officials into it. That schedule with the officials is called the “104” and is critical to keeping people in the right place during the competition. It is supposed to match the schedule on Entryeeze. But the Entryeeze schedule is created by hand off of the 104. So – there are times those will difffer. The 104 always wins.

The night before the competition we are all there – Registrar, Hospitality, Music Guy, Accounting Team, Competition Chair, Charlie. Setting up the hospitality rooms. Setting up the accounting room and equipment. Setting up the judging system, the sound system, the video equipment, the vendor booths, results board, start order post area, locker rooms.

The first AM of the competition; all the same people who were there the night before arrive at 6 or 7 or 8 and start practice ice and any final set up. Judges, officials and the announcers arrive in time for breakfast to be served and the competition is off and running.

It is a long journey involving a LOT of people just to get to the day of competition. If there are not volunteers to help us during the competition; we are sunk; because we are already wiped out from the set up. And we know that the tear down is looming at the end of the event.

And though I am sure you all know this already. NONE of the people involved in this process get any money for this. Judges and officials get reimbursed milage/expenses. Some members of the LOC (Local Organizing Committee – also can be called the Host Club) will get hotel rooms if the event is far from their home. That’s it.

So. When we say this is a volunteer run organization – we really mean it. Most clubs are more than happy to get a volunteer who wants to start to learn some of these tasks so they can be spread around between more people. So – don’t be shy!!! If you are volunteering and want to know how something works – just ask. All of us love skating and talking about it – so if we haven’t already passed out from exhaustion; we will be happy to talk!!! While we watch you work……

And be kind. If we are charging admission, you can be sure that info was in the announcement. We don’t surprise people with that and we warn the competitors. So, if you didn’t know – it is not the fault of the mom collecting money and handing out arm bands. And do read the announcement. So many unpleasant confrontations and crying skaters could be avoided by doing this. Usually there is a copy at the registration desk – so if your wi-fi is not cooperating; ask to see it before you “go off” about us not doing something correctly. Individual clubs have lattitude in these competitions. Just because one club does it one way; doesn’t mean another will. Or that the same club will do it this year the same way they did it last year.

And coaches. You know the deal. If you are not compliant: Just. fix it. Bring your papers if there is a delay in updating the reports. Don’t try to play us.We deserve more respect than that.

We can be very nice and helpful and lovely if we are approached politely. When we are not. Well….. You know the old cranky people that you run into and wonder why they are so crabby and just say “NO” to everything??? You don’t want to create any more of those. So. Polite approach it is!!!!!

See you at the next rink!!!!

What we don’t know that you don’t know.

Sept. 1 has come and gone. That is ALWAYS the deadline for the qualifying competition season in US Figure Skating. Every year I attempt to help moms who have not done this before. Here are some of the questions that you should know the answer to before you get to the finish line in Skating.

What is a qualifying competition?

In USFS lingo; a qualifying competition is one in which people attempt to get to Nationals. Single skaters currently start this path at Regionals. Pairs and Dance start at Sectionals (because there are not as many of them – so we just skip that first step).

What levels are Qualifying levels?

Juvenile. Intermediate. Novice. Junior. Senior.

NOTE: Open Juvenile is NOT a qualifying level.

What level is my skater?

Well, you can login to your skater’s Member’s Only account on the USFS Web site and find out. It is the highest Free Skate (not Moves) test they have passed. In the past, skaters at Skate SWP could skate one level up from their highest test level. That was not true this year, or a few years ago. Since this is a club competition – it is up to the Club hosting the event to decide this. So – read the announcement!!! Also this coming year – a Juvenile skater who is over 13 must do open Juvenile. (It used to be 13, they moved if briefly to 14, but now decided that was not a good plan and moved it back).

What is the difference between qualifying and non qualifying?

As you may have guessed – Non qualifying levels are just competing at the competition that happens close to regionals for “fun”. They will not go on to Sectionals. They will get a medal (if they place) like they do at all the club competitions. The competition is run by the club – not US Figure Skating. It is NOT Regionals. It is, technically: “The non-qulifying competition that happens at Regionals”. But that is a mouthful. The one in our Region is called Skate SWP. Our qualifying competition here is SWP (SouthWest Pacific) Regionals.

Older skaters, their parents and coaches may take umbrage at you calling yourself a “Regional Champion” if you win a medal at Skate SWP. You should call yourself the “Skate SWP” champion or medalist. And be very proud of that. And, while we know your moms’ are justifyably proud of you for your accomplishments – they should also refrain from calling you the Regional Champion. So – watch mom’s social media and do your best eye roll at her if she makes this mistake. I am sure ALL the coaches know better than to do this. They would never be invited to play in any Reindeer games if they did this sort of thing.

We do qualifying rounds at every competition; it that the same?

Placing well in the QR at the club competitions qualifies you to skate in the final round at that competition. But it does not make you a Qualifying level skater; or mean that you have skated at a qualifying competition. The word is being used generically there – it is not the “official” use of the word.


I hope this sorts out this particular thorny issue.



Figure Skating or Ice Skating

Well I am stubborn. I insist on calling what I am talking about “figure skating”. Ice skating could be speed skating or just going in circles. Figure skating is doing jumps and spins and footwork, all choreographed to music. The basis of it was figures. Jumps are figures in the air. Footwork is pieces of figures all cut together.

The loss of figures caused a bunch of problems we are still trying to clean up – younger children doing harder jumps and getting to the Olympics. Which made us put in age limits. Chidren over-training jumps because they don’t have to pass figures tests to get to certain levels (causing more injuries). And the fact they don’t have the edge and body control from learning figures also leads to injuries. And also to jumps taking off the wrong edge.

I am an old curmudgeon. I want figures taught to everyone – even if not at the standard it would take to pass the tests. I want to bring back patch. I want to ban quads (I will settle for a limit on them) and focus on what a skater does on the ice – not in the air. I want a place for beautiful skating to succeed and be rewarded.

I want everyone to think long and hard before they re-use music that has been used by a famous/successful skater. Be your own skater. Don’t be a bad copy of someine else. I want less math and more passion.

I know I am not alone. But I definitely am swimming upstream.

Welcome to All About Figure Skating by Ann Jensen!

Ask Ann anything!  Let’s start talking about our favorite sport.

What do you think of our current USA Team?

I was at Glacier Falls. We are at the “some assembly required” part of the season.

Here is the link to the USFS page that has our team:(if you don’t spend a lot of time examining the USFS pages – and you are interested in, or participating in, skating at a competitive level…. you really need to.)

Ashley Wagner Karen Chen

Adam Rippon Jason Brown
Nathan Chen

Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim

Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue Madison Chock & Evan Bates
Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani

If Glacier had been a practice session at Nationals… I would have said (as I did in 96 about Rudy) “She is hungry. She is going to take this”. That having been said – it is very early for her to look this strong. I worry she will peak too early. I have not seen anything but small clips from Ashley. So – no idea.

The men. The men. Jason and Adam are my loves. But honestly. Nathan’s tech is hard to beat. Best case scenario is Jason and Adam find at least one quad and Nathan is not 100% on technically. But Nathan can have good artistry if he chooses. so. I am just beside myself over this whole part of the event. What is good for skating? What is good for USFS??? What do I want to see??? I am getting another drink.

Pairs and dance have not even really begun. But I am team Shibutani and Hubbell/Donahue. As for our pairs. well.. Everyone’s pairs were all over the place last season. Can Alexa keep her intestines ?? Can Haven’s knee hold up??? Or should we just let all these poor girls rest and hand medals to Canada and China???

Caroline Zhang Mirai Nagasu
Courtney Hicks Mariah Bell
Gracie Gold

Grant Hochstein Ross Miner
Max Aaron Vincent Zhou

Tarah Kayne & Daniel O’Shea Chelsea Liu & Brian Johnson
Marissa Castelli & Mervin Tran Jessica Pfund & Joshua Santillan
Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay Ashley Cain & Timothy LeDuc

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker Rachael Parsons & Michael Parsons
Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge
Christina Carreria & Anthony Ponomarenko Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit

Wow. Therapy for everyone!!! Can we get a Team discount???
Any of those ladies could do… something wonderful. And any of them could implode. I have soft spots for Mirai and Gracie. But Courtney really, really has a GREAT</strong FS this year. Really suits her. That is so much of the battle. If she does it – she owes Jonathan Cassar a car. Mirai's FS seems good – but she is very focused on her jumps getting clean (which I understand). She seems to be banking on her 3 Axel…. That is dicey. If it works – she has it. If not – she could drop way down. Kuddos for bravery. Caroline's programs are lovely. But her tech content is a bit lite. And she is still a bit slow. She is another soft spot for me – just because I love the "old skating" feel of her "East of Eden" Program. But I am afraid for her…. I have no clue what Mariah is doing/up to. She was inconsistant last season. If she got Rafael to fix that – then she is in the mix….

As far as the men here. Grant. Ross. Max. Vincent. At Glacier, Ross was the most "well rounded" – he had technical and PC marks. Grant had a lot of tech struggles. But it is early – so those may resolve. Vincent may just have bad timing. With Nathan in his way – he may be a year late for the Olympic spot. But he has come a long way in PCS. And his technical is strong. He could squeak in here because he is young and can fight. Max had a horrible season last year and I haven't heard much from him in the early season. So. well. He can do a lot of jumps If he is in shape. dunno what else to say there.

As for pairs – I am a Cain and LeDuc fan. But I also have loved Kayne and O'shea in the past. And Stellato & Bartholomay have some awesome moments. And the California teams have my heart as well. I just throw my hands in the air on this one. Too hard!!! makes my head/heart hurt.

Angela Wang Amber Glenn
Polina Edmunds Bradie Tennell
Ashley Lin Starr Andrews
Kaitlyn Nguyen

Alexander Johnson Timothy Dolensky
Jordan Moeller Andrew Torgashev
Aleksei Krasnozhon Sean Rabbitt
Camden Pulkinen Ryan Dunk

Jessica Noelle Calalang & Zack Sidhu Erika Smith & AJ Reiss
Elli Kopmar & Jonah Barrett Nica Digerness & Danny Neudecker

Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye Karina Manta & Joseph Johnson

Wow. This is a dark horse group. Starr has strong Tech – but has been inconsistent. But she is a tough scrappy fighter… Kaitlyn has a great FS that really suits her. But also young. Polina is really struggling to find her way back. The others certainly have had their moments – but – nothing I would put money on here.

Oh. The boys. My favorite. I love Alexander’s artistry. But with school also in his path and the relocation… Not sure…Sean is solid with what he does. But he doesn’t do a 3 axel (well – he sometimes does..) or a quad so far. So… that is a tough battle. The rest are definite long shots here.

Nina Ouellette Ting Cui
Angelina Huang Pooja Kalyan
Emmy Ma

Eric Sjoberg Oleksiy Melnyk
Maxim Naumov Mathew Graham
Joseph Kang Sasha Lunin
Dinh Tran

Caroline Green & Gordon Green Sophia Elder & Christopher Elder
Katarina DelCamp & Maxwell Gart Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville
Jocelyn Haines & James Koszuta

Ohhhh. well. JGP for everyone. Emmy Ma made a good showing at Glacier. I know Pooja – so. Bias!!! Nina is a very good skater. And I don’t know the other 2. Or have forgotten their names because I am old. I love Eric’s skating – beautiful. And he has decent technical content. Dinh Tran has strong Tech as well. Off to Latvia.

Paige Rydberg Tessa Hong
Brynne McIsaac Ashley Kim
Franchesca Chiera Gabrielle Noullet

Emmanuel Savary William Hubbart

Sarah Rose & Joseph Goodpaster Audrey Lu & Misha Mitrofanov
Vanessa Chen & Eric Hartley Gabriella Marvaldi & Daniel Villeneuve

Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville

I am not even sure if this is this year or last year’s team. I love Tessa. But again – Bias. All of this team is just so young and inconsistant. More trips to Latvia!!!!!