|29. United States Figure Skating
|Association First Test
Having learned your figures thoroughly thus far, you are ready for another test of your ability. The preliminary test is a useful starter, but it is with the first test that the United States Figure Skating Association gets down to the serious business of determining how good a skater you are. There will be seven more of these proficiency examinations until the eighth, or Gold Medal, test is passed. If you can possibly do so, join the association through one of its approximately 500 member clubs all over this country and Canada. If there is no club near you, independent memberships making you eligible for tests, etc., in any skating center are available for a nominal sum. However, if you are so situated that this seems a useless procedure, give yourself the test. It will be useful, and also fun, for you to evaluate your practice so far according to the judging rules that will follow.
Use as clean and unmarked a piece of ice as possible, so that you will be able to see your tracings clearly. If more than one of you are taking the test, skate each figure in rotation and then go on to the next. For example, in this first test all skate the OF eight, then the IF eight, the OB eight, the forward change of edge starting right, the same serpentine starting left, and finally the OF threes-to-center. Start each figure on the right foot just as you have in practice (first indicating with your arms the long axis to be skated), then retrace each lobe twice on each foot, making three prints in all. It is best always to place your figures either lengthwise or crosswise on the ice surface—in practice as well as during a test. When you have finished, examine the figure carefully, looking for all the technical points your instruction has stressed so far. In evaluating a figure, the print on the ice counts first, then the form in which it was skated (here it is difficult to judge yourself!), the size of the diagram, and finally the closeness of the repeating lines.
Now mark the figure on a scale of 1 to 6, according to how good or bad it seems to you. For non-circles or wobbly edges deduct a lot; for open-top threes or changes on the top of true half-circles, add a bit as a plus for special virtue. Since all the first test figures have a factor of 1 merely total your marks and see if you have equaled the passing score of 21.6. If you have, you've passed providing no single figure received less than the passing mark of 3. A failing mark for any one figure in a test means failure, no matter how good your other figures may have been.
You passed? Great! You are entitled to a real sense of achievement. You failed? Don't be discouraged, but practice some more before you go on to the next figures. Many a champion has failed the first test he or she ever took—as I did. True, you may never want to take this test officially, but mentally you must take it. If you are satisfied with your progress so far, give yourself the fun and relaxation you have earned by starting to learn all but the most difficult dances and all the free skating your present ability will allow. I hope you have not been so unwise as to have gone beyond the most elementary dances before this point. I am a strong believer in walking before running, and the fact that a majority of dancers never become really good dancers is due to an early neglect of fundamental edge control. One more series of figures to go (those in the United States Figure Skating Association second test and the next chapter) and then you will be a solidly grounded skater, ready to go on to any goals you may have set for yourself.
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