Figure Skating Levels Explained

Written By: Riedell | November 2, 2018

Do you want to become a figure skater? Have you dreamed of going to the Olympics? Well, before you can take off on the Olympic ice, you’ll need to get through your training. Think that you’ll just start off right away with a private coach? Well, we guess you could do that if you had the time and money to pay for private beginner coaching, but in the beginning, most skaters start either with the Snowplow Sam or Basic level figure skating classes.

Figure skating has levels? That’s right! The most popular teaching systems endorsed by US Figure Skating is the Snowplow Sam and Basic eight system. Once you have passed beyond these levels, you can start exploring your favorite area of figure skating, be it singles, pairs, ice dancing, or synchronized skating. After you pass the Snowplow Sam levels and the Basic eight levels you can continue on to beginner, pre-preliminary, and preliminary competition level programs. Some skaters may be able to skip the Snowplow Sam levels depending on age and ability.

To pass a level test, a skater will need to perform each element in order, one at a time, as directed by a judge or referee, or they may perform their elements in a simple program format with no excessive connecting steps. In a group setting, all skaters may perform each skill one at a time before progressing on to the next skill or all skaters may be asked to perform the entire skill level test by performing one skill after another before the judge moves on to the next skater. Skill level tests are to conducted with no music on ⅓-½ of the ice. Typically, skaters will progress to their desired specialty area (singles, pairs, ice dancing, or synchronized skating) by age nine. Of course, some skaters start earlier or later, so this age is only utilized as a guideline. If you love skating we encourage you to attend classes at any age; skating is a great way to make new friends and get active. Read on below to see the skills needed to pass each level.

Snowplow Sam Figure Skating Levels

Snowplow Sam 1

  • Sit and stand up with skates on – off-ice
  • Sit and stand up – on-ice
  • March in place
  • March forward (8-10 steps)
  • March, then glide on two feet
  • Dip in place

Snowplow Sam 2

  • March followed by a long glide
  • Dip while moving
  • Backward walking, toes turned inward, shifting weight (4-6 steps)
  • Backward wiggles (6 in a row)
  • Forward swizzles (2-3 in a row)
  • Beginning snowplow stop motion – in place or holding onto barrier
  • Two-foot hop, in place (optional)

Snowplow Sam 3

  • Forward skating (8-10 strides)
  • Forward one-foot glide, two times skater’s height (R and L)
  • Forward swizzles (4-6 in a row)
  • Backward swizzles (2-3 in a row)
  • Moving forward snowplow stop (two-foot)
  • Curves

Snowplow Sam 4

  • Forward skating
  • Backward two-foot glide, length of skater’s height
  • Backward swizzles (4-6 in a row)
  • Rocking horse – one forward, one backward swizzle, repeat twice
  • Two-foot turns from forward to backward, in place (both directions)
  • Two-foot hop, in place

Basic Eight Figure Skating Levels

These basic skills are the fundamentals that all skaters need to know to be successful. The skill learn in the basic levels will act as your foundation as your skate forward through your figure skating career. If you slack off through some of your foundational work you may find that you have a harder time mastering advanced skills.

Basic 1

  1. Forward two foot glide
  2. Forward two foot swizzles 6 -8 in a row
  3. Forward snowplow stop
  4. Backward wiggles 6-8 in a row

Basic 2

  1. Forward one foot glide – either foot
  2. Forward alternating ½ swizzle pumps, in a straight line -across width of ice
  3. Two foot turn in place forward to backward
  4. Backward two foot swizzles 6 – 8 in a row
  5. Moving snowplow stop

Basic 3

  1. Forward stroking
  2. Forward ½ swizzle pumps on a circle, either clockwise or counterclockwise 6 – 8 consecutive
  3. Moving forward to backward two foot turn – either direction
  4. Backward one foot glide – either foot
  5. Two foot spin

Basic 4

  1. Forward outside edge on a circle clockwise or counter clockwise
  2. Forward crossovers 6-8 consecutive both directions
  3. Forward outside three turn – R & L
  4. Backward stroking
  5. Backward snowplow stop – R or L

Basic 5:

  1. Backward outside edge on a circle clockwise or counterclockwise
  2. Backward crossovers 6-8 consecutive – both directions
  3. One foot spin – minimum of three revolutions
  4. Hockey stop
  5. Side Toe hop -either direction

Basic 6:

  1. Forward inside three turn – R & L from a standstill
  2. Bunny Hop
  3. Forward spiral on a straight line – R or L
  4. Lunge – R or L
  5. T-stop – R or L

Basic 7:

  1. Forward inside open Mohawk – R to L and L to R
  2. Ballet Jump – either direction
  3. Back crossovers to a back outside edge landing position clockwise and counterclockwise
  4. Forward inside pivot

Basic 8:

  1. Moving forward outside or forward inside three turns R & L
  2. Waltz jump
  3. Mazurka – either direction
  4. Combination move – clockwise or counterclockwise – two forward crossovers into FI Mohawk, step behind, step into one back crossover and step to a forward inside edge
  5. Beginning one-foot upright spin – optional free foot position

Find Your Way Onto the Ice With Riedell

Whether you’re starting your very first lessons or you’re preparing to take home the gold, find the figure skates that are right for you with Riedell. With our wide range of skates for beginners, you’re sure to find the skates you need for any level. Still not sure about which skates are right for you? Send us a message and a member of our team will be more than happy to help you find your next pair of figure skates