The ABC’s of Figure Skating

Written By: Riedell | September 8, 2011

If you are new to the exciting world of figure skating, you may have heard some acronyms—like PSA, ISI and USFSA—mentioned in conversations around the rink. What do these letters stand for, and what do they mean to skaters like you? Riedell has broken down the basics of these figure skating organizations to help you understand this alphabet soup!


The PSA, or Professional Skaters Association, is an organization with a membership of more than 6,400 coaches, performing professionals, judges, manufacturers, officials and fans of the sport. In fact, every pair of Riedells is endorsed by the PSA! Founded in 1938, it is the official education center for coaches and judges and accreditation source for coaches. Did you know? All of the U.S. Olympic & World coaches are PSA members!

What does PSA mean for you? The PSA ensures that your coaches and judges are knowledgeable about figure skating to give you the best experience each time you enter the rink!

Where can you find PSA? Check out PSA’s magazine, Professional Skater.


ISI stands for Ice Skating Institute, established in 1959 to provide “leadership, education and services to the ice skating industry.” This organization represents all aspects of the skating community, including coaches, manufacturers, both recreational and professional skaters as well as arenas (& even the hockey community!) As a skater you’re probably most familiar with the ISI skating events that are held across the country. This year, the ISI World Recreational Team Championships were held in Minnesota, Riedell’s home state.  More than 60,000 skaters are members of ISI.

What does ISI mean for you? ISI offers testing levels (we have a boot recommendations chart based on the ISI test levels in our catalog.) and events where you can meet and interact with other skaters at all levels.

Where can you find ISI? At events across the country. In addition, Recreational Ice Skating, ISI’s bi-monthly magazine is a great resource for skaters!


The United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) “is the national governing body for the sport of figure skating in the United States.” It is also a member of the ISU and the U.S. Olympic Committee. USFSA is comprised of six areas: member, collegiate and school-affiliated clubs, individual members, Friend of Figure Skating and the Basic Skills Program, which has helped more than 2 million people learn how to skate since 1968!

What does USFSA mean for you? For skaters learning new skills on the ice, USFSA Basic Skills Program and Standard Tests are used to help rate abilities. Just like ISI testing levels, you can view your Riedell boot recommendation based on your USFSA level in our catalog.

Where can you find USFSA? SKATING Magazine is the perfect place to find the latest news & results for all your favorite skating stars. USFSA also helped to create and promote the movie, RISE, about the 1961 U.S. World Team.


The International Skating Union (ISU) is the international winter sport federation, recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which administers ice skating sports throughout the world. Did you know the ISU is the oldest winter sports federation, founded in 1892? The ISU oversees figure skating, including pairs, ice dance and synchronized skating—plus speed and short track speed skating. 85 national associations (like USFSA!) are members of the ISU.

Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, the ISU establishes standards for international figure skating competition which cover a myriad of topics. To get an idea of the type of regulations the ISU has established, check out its 2010 rules for Singles, Pairs and Ice Dance here.

What does ISU mean for you? The ISU provides consistency in regulation for international competition, and helps make our sport truly international.

Where can you find the ISU? The ISU organizes the international competitions we all enjoy watching over the course of the skating season, including the Grand Prix and Junior Grand Prix Series.

There are many other great skating organizations that help keep our sport growing. Next week, we’ll share some information about skating nonprofits that help give back to our communities.