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Becoming a USFS Judge

How To Start
      There are several ways an individual can become involved in the world of figure skating and serve the skating community. One of the best volunteer activities is judging; it is a wonderful way to impart skating knowledge and help young skaters achieve their skating goals.

      There increasingly is a shortage of judges, especially dance judges, who are available to attend test sessions during the weekdays and on weekends. In areas where there are sufficient judges, who are retired or financially independent, test chairs frequently have a wide range of skaters requesting tests from beginner to gold MITF,  Free Skating, and Dance tests.

      In some areas the cost to assemble a panel of 3 judges may require each judge to travel in excess of a 100 miles or more (200 miles round trip). This forces the test chair to seek Gold judges with dual rating in Singles and Dance to accommodate requests for tests range from beginner to gold MITF,  Free Skating, and Dance tests. The list of such judges is growing smaller each year.

      The solution is for a skating club to foster the development of local judges so that double and triple panels of lower MITF and dance tests can be run at the same time. The extra cost to bring in additional judges from a radius of thirty miles. or less, is not as expensive as the extra ice time to run the tests one at a time.

      Club skaters who turn sixteen and have passed their Novice MITF can become a prospective judge.  Because of their accelerated status, by the time they can become an official judge, it is likely that they will have successfully trial the number of required tests with a high percentage of agreement with the official panel of judges.

      Although judging is a rewarding activity, it's also a big time commitment. Judges spend countless hours dedicated to their craft - studying, judging tests and competitions, and giving feedback to skaters. Because it's a volunteer activity, be sure you are prepared to put in the time, money and effort to be the best judge you can possibly be. If you do that, you are sure to have many memorable experiences.

      For those interested in becoming a judge, the first step is to call Headquarters (719.635.5200) or send an e-mail to jnewcomer@usfigureskating.org and request a Trial Judging Kit (kit will be sent via e-mail). The kit contains all the information and paperwork you need to start your judging career.

      The following information contains excerpts from one of those pieces of information in the kit - "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Becoming a Figure Skating Judge But Were Afraid to Ask." You can download the full version of this document in PDF format for complete information.

What's in the Trial Judging Kit

      1.    "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Becoming a Figure Skating Judge 
             But   Were Afraid to Ask"

      2.    Trial Judge regional & sectional vice chair contacts List
      3.    Form: Trial Judge Registration Form
      4.    Form: Request for information on becoming a synchronized team skating judge
      5.    Form: Rulebook and directory order form
      6.    Form: Request for permission to trial or practice judge a competition
      7.    Form: Application for the select or accelerated program
      8.    Form: Application for judging appointment
      9.    Judges Committee Guidelines
    10.    Trial Judging forms for all disciplines
Becoming a Judge Q&A

Q: How do I know if I would be a good figure skating judge?
A: There are certain fundamentals that individuals should possess if they want to become qualified judges and have positive judging experiences. These characteristics include:
  • A sincere desire to be of service to the sport
  • Ability to make an independent decision
  • Proper temperament and ability to handle stress
  • Knowledge of the sport
Q: Are there any basic requirements before I get started?
A: Yes, you must be at least 16 years old to be a trial judge (18 to receive your first appointment) and you must have a current U.S. Figure Skating membership.

Q: Do I have to be a really good skater (or even a skater at all!) or a skating expert to be a judge?
A: Technical knowledge of figure skating is essential, but each person starts with a different degree of skating knowledge. While former skaters usually have a broader base of technical knowledge when beginning the trial judging process, ability as a skater is not in itself the measure of judging ability. There are many good judges who just skated recreationally - in the long run, temperament and willingness to serve are of more importance. A limited skating background should not discourage anyone interested in becoming a judge. Individuals that are new to the sport must be willing to put in the hours necessary to acquire technical knowledge, from studying texts and attending judge's schools to skating themselves (preferably with quality instruction).

Q: Will I get paid for judging?
A: Judging is a volunteer activity. Official judges are reimbursed for "out-of-pocket" expenses that include travel and meals at test sessions and competitions. Lodging and meals may be necessary for judging tests and especially for competitions. Trial judges receive no financial assistance at all from U.S. Figure Skating.

Q: I've decided I want to be a judge. What resources should I get to begin my learning?
A: There are two important documents that can get you on your way: the Trial Judging Kit and the current U.S. Figure Skating rulebook.

Q: What's the first step to actually judging a test or competition?
A: To be a judge, you must first become a trial judge and go through the entire trial judging process. Trial judges are like practice judges - they go to test sessions and/or competitions and judge what they see. Their judging sheets are then reviewed and compared to the outcome of the official panel to help the prospective judge learn more and become suitable to receive his/her first appointment.

Q: How do I go about becoming a trial judge?
A: The first step is to request a Trial Judge Kit from Headquarters and then to contact the regional vice chair of judges for your region and register as a trial judge. You can find the name and contact information for this person in the U.S. Figure Skating directory, in the Trial Judge Kit, or by contacting U.S. Figure Skating directly. Those interested in synchronized skating should contact the sectional vice chair for synchronized judges in your section. You will receive the Trial Judging Kit containing sample trial papers and other information. You will also be assigned a monitor to guide and mentor you through the trial judging process and maintain all of your official trial papers and records. If there is a judge with whom you have good rapport and an existing relationship, you may mention that to the regional vice chair, and he or she may take that into consideration when making the assignment.

Q: How do I begin trial judging?
A: Once you have filled out all the necessary paperwork and have a monitor, it's time to actually begin the "real" trial judging process. You may want to trial at your home club first, where you will likely be more comfortable in this new capacity. When you are comfortable trial judging, you may call the test chair of various nearby clubs for permission to trial upcoming test sessions. Your monitor and other local judges can be helpful in this process by introducing you to other area judges and keeping you informed of area test sessions. Trial judging with a variety of judges is important in your development as a well-informed and educated judge.
When you know you are ready to trial judge a test session outside your home club, call or write ahead to the test chair of that club requesting to trial judge at a particular test session (see TR 20.11 in the U.S. Figure Skating rulebook). The number of spaces available for trial judges is often limited based on the number that the test chair or judge-in-charge (JIC) can handle.
The Trial Judging Kit contains more information about trial judging etiquette and how to properly handle forms after the event.

Q: How do I receive my first appointment?
A: You and your monitor will work together to decide when you are ready to apply for your first appointment. When that happens, you will fill out the Application for Judging Appointment form and supply all the other necessary paperwork.

Q: I understand I need to trial judge tests and be a test judge first, but how do I become a competition judge?
A: Naturally, if you are interested in judging qualifying competitions, you have to become a competition judge. The first level of competition judging is the novice appointment. In order to apply for this appointment you must be at least a silver test judge. The novice appointment encompasses the juvenile, intermediate and novice levels.
Competition judging differs from test judging in that judges are required to evaluate each skater's performance, compare them to other performances completed in the event, and then rank the performances based on the technical execution and presentation of the program. It is not recommended to begin trialing competitions until you have a good understanding of skating elements, presentation and overall skating quality.
Prospective competition judges are required to trial judge both the short program and free skate at qualifying competitions and nonqualifying competitions that are approved by the Judges Committee for trial purposes. These competitions are listed on the U.S. Figure Skating web site.

Q: What if I want to trial judge dance tests or synchronized skating?
A: Many of the general guidelines for singles and pairs apply to trial judging dance tests and synchronized skating. However, both have unique qualities that require special attention. Your Trial Judging Kit will have further information.

Q: I have heard the term "CEU." What are CEUs and what affect do they have on judging?
A: CEUs are continuing education units. U.S. judges are required to stay active in the sport through a number of ways including trial judging, judging, attending judges' schools or seminars and taking the judges' exam. Judges earn CEUs for participating in these activities. Judges are expected to earn a certain number of CEUs in a four-year period to remain eligible to judge.

Q: What are the select and accelerated programs?
A: The select and accelerated programs are established to encourage, monitor and guide former and current high-level figure skaters, ice dancers and synchronized team skaters with their advancement as U.S. Figure Skating judges. The select track encompasses current and former national junior and senior competitors. The accelerated track encompasses persons who have completed the novice free skate test or silver dance test.

Q: What does the term "fast track" mean?
A: The fast track is another term for the select or accelerated programs of promoting new prospective judges or advancements for approved lower test judges.

Q: How often do judges take the judges' exam?
A: There no longer is an annual exam for judges. There is an annual rules review similar to an exam. It is a voluntary exercise and will earn the judge/trial judge 50 CEUs when submitted. Judges/trial judges are encouraged to submit the rules review annually. However, any person wishing promotion as a judge must take and pass an exam specific to the requested level of promotion.
Resources:

Becoming a Judge (PDF)

Becoming a trial judge (PDF)

Contacts
Judges Committee eMail

Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

  
USFS Test Judging Topics
Becoming a USFS Judge
PDF  IJS Handbook
PDF  Judges Singles & Pairs Training Manual New  Evaluation of Jumps
PDF  Chart of Changes to MITF  9/2/2010 PDF  2011 USFS Tests Book 8/27/10
PDF  A need for Test Program Element Sheet
PDF  USFS Compulsory Figures Rules
PDF  Focus Points: Evaluate Tests
Roles of Skating Judges and Coaches
Discussion of MITF Topics
New & Revised MITF Elements
Critiquing Skating Performances
MITF Critique Sheets
Requirements to Pass MITF
MITF Judging Criteria
Basic Skating Judging Protocols
Basic Skating Competitive Judging
Basic Skating Worksheets
Test and Elite Standards
Focus of Free Skating Test Judging
Interpreting 6.0 Score Sheets
School Figures

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