For those who are not quite ready to perform in front of an audience, observing a local competition is a great way to gain insight into the competitive world of figure skating and see different skating disciplines- freestyle, dance, and pairs, and also different levels- basic skills to free skate to well balanced preliminary through senior programs. Young skaters will be inspired as they watch kids of similar age gracefully skating to the music and performing impressive mid-air jumps, flying leaps, and astonishing fast spins. I often catch young skaters mesmerized and oohing and ahhhing over the performers. They especially are dazzled by the beautiful costumes adorned with Swarovski crystals and sequins. Having the opportunity to watch a skating competition provides young skaters encouragement to go out there and show off their skills and talents and join the excitement of shining on the ice. I always try to encourage and convince my students to attend a competition and/or even come see me compete as I could always use the extra support.
One of the largest and most attended skating competition in NJ is the Garden State Games Figure Skating Championship. This competition is the qualifying event for the National State Games of America Championships. Sponsored by the North Jersey Figure Skating Club, the Garden State Games is a two-day event held on June 14-15 at the Ice Vault Arena in Wayne, NJ. The competition will include basic skills, freestyle, solo dance pattern, showcase, and compulsory spin and jump events. I was told it will be a huge turnout as there were over 375 skaters registered to compete.
I wear two hats: competitive skater and a trial skating official. Having just come back from competing at the Atlanta Open this past week, I then had to serve as a skating judge at a local competition the very next day. I was honored to be asked to return to judge at the prestigious Garden State Games Figure Skating Championships again this year. In addition to the basic skills events, I was also assigned to judge higher levels, including freestyle and showcase.
I admit it’s nice to be on the other side of the rink and take on a completely different role and not have to compete. Though it’s less stressful than competing, there still is pressure to perform well. As a skating judge, I have a huge responsibility to evaluate and score skaters’ performances and be able to make independent decisions. I need to have a broad base of technical knowledge and be able to draw upon what I learn from judging school. Judges are often judged by others, and so I have to learn to control my emotions if ever confronted by upset skaters/parents/coaches who challenge my scoring. Thankfully, I have not had any negative experiences as my scoring has always been aligned with other judges. Despite the hard work, I enjoy judging immensely as I can impart my knowledge and help young skaters and give back to my sport. It’s also a great way to meet new people!