Figure Skating Levels: Skating Skills
Most skaters participating in U.S. Figure Skating testing start with the Skating Skills track. This track is considered a prerequisite or baseline test series and is essential for athletes who wish to participate in other discipline-specific tests, like pattern dance or pairs. Skaters can move through every level of Skating Skills without ever taking a test in another area, but they can’t test in any of the other four areas without passing the corresponding level test in Skating Skills.
The U.S. Figure Skating testing structure is often referred to as the “backbone” of figure skating because it gives skaters the opportunity to showcase their skills compared to a national average and reach gold medalist status. But in order to reach that status or test in any of the other disciplines, skaters must begin with Skating Skills.
What Is the Skating Skills Test for Figure Skating?
There are five different areas of testing for figure skaters, and the Skating Skills test is considered the baseline. Simply put, this area tests the skater’s ability in skating skills. Each level in the Skating Skills testing structure helps athletes learn skating skills and turns with a focus on accuracy, bilateral movement, strength, edge quality, extension, continuous flow, quickness, power, and turn execution.
Without these core skills, skaters couldn’t perform properly in any area or discipline of skating. Those hoping to become high-level skaters must master these key skills and techniques before they can learn how to apply them to other disciplines like pattern dance or pairs.
What Is the Purpose of Skating Skills?
The purpose of Skating Skills is to test the skater’s mastery of these core skills in relation to which level they’re testing at. These tests help skaters learn which areas they need to improve on and help them showcase what they’ve learned. Each level builds on the previous ones and becomes progressively more intricate and challenging. There are several levels in this track, including:
What Is the Difference Between Skating Skills and Moves in the Field?
The Skating Skills levels previously went by different names and used to be referred to as pre-preliminary, preliminary, pre-juvenile, juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, and senior. Similarly, Moves in the Field has also been renamed to Skating Skills. These name changes for the U.S. Figure Skating testing levels were implemented on July 1, 2023. The changes haven’t altered what skaters will be tested on and were done to better reflect the intent of the test and levels, which is often to become a gold medalist!
What Will You Be Tested On?
You’ll begin at the first level for the Skating Skills test, which is pre-preliminary. You must pass your test before moving on to the following level.
Each level will consist of four to six set patterns the skater must perform. Skaters are required to perform skills in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions, on both the right and left feet, and on both inside and outside edges. The levels become progressively more challenging as skaters advance, and each level builds on the previous ones.
New layers of skills are added onto the basic techniques as skaters reach new levels. You’ll never stop using the most basic techniques you learn. Instead, you’ll learn how to build on those techniques and moves as they become more intricate and challenging with each new level you reach.
Each pattern a skater is required to perform can be found in the U.S. Figure Skating Rule Book. This book describes the required patterns in each level in detail and provides a diagram of what it will look like when performed on the ice. This is an excellent resource for skaters preparing for their Skating Skills test.
How Long Does It Take To Pass the Skating Skills Tests?
On average, it takes skaters six years to pass the gold level test for Skating Skills. However, athletes move at their own pace through these levels. How long it takes will ultimately depend on your goals and the time you put in. Competitive skaters are often focused on progressing through the levels more quickly than recreational skaters so they can enter competitions, but there is no right or wrong amount of time to spend ascending through the Skating Skills levels.
At the pre-preliminary level, most skaters take about six months to pass the test if they spend an hour or so each week working on it. Most skaters pass on their first try, but you are allowed to retest if you don’t receive a passing score.
Once skaters reach the intermediate levels, it can take between eight months and one year to pass if they’re working toward that goal for an average of three hours each week. These timelines are merely an average and not something skaters should hold themselves to. It’s fine to go at your own pace and take the time to master the necessary skills before attempting your test.
It’s important for skaters to work with a good coach and set reachable goals to progress through the Skating Skills testing levels. Remember to give yourself the time you need, and don’t worry about comparing yourself to other skaters! Everyone moves through the tests at their own pace.
Level Up With Riedell Ice
It’s essential to have the right equipment when you attempt the Skating Skills tests. Your most important piece of equipment is your skates, and we have the best products available for people at every skill level. Check out our developmental series to find the perfect skates for you.