This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Friday, February 9, 2018

- act

An audience contemplates your skating in a slightly different fashion than how a judge scrutinizes your program. A judge watches your blades, how they cut the ice, if your spins precess, if you rotated too short to a landing.

The audience though absorbs your presentation: are you projecting work, fear, or enjoyment? Did you telegraph your jump? The audience tracks your center of gravity, your arm positions, and your facial expressions. An audience observes your thoughts.

One consequence of this is that the audience has entirely different expectations for you when you are skating a novelty program than for when you are skating technical.

We don't mind your slightly suppressed smile when you nail a tough jump, but otherwise those of us watching your technical program expect to see something sublimely reserved, stylishly graceful, and professionally polished.

A novelty skate however is another matter entirely. The audience would actually like you to move your head about and signal some emotion, perhaps four times in a novelty program. Don't overdo it and be a crass wiseass; rather share your emotions gently, matching them appropriately to the theme of your program. Be the cat, or the spy, or the film starlet your program deserves.

You know, out here in the audience, we love you.


  1. often feel, sometimes, judges are caught up in the theatrics of the program over the technical elements. esp for 6.0 judging. Do skaters who possess ability to convey facial expressions, myriad of arm/hand movements, score higher than girls with stoic expressions but with stronger skating techniques, bigger jumps, and stronger spins? Quite often, this seems to be the case in lower level skating. Judges are human, and they too can be persuaded and mesmerized by the balletic arm gestures. But in the end, how many of these skaters truly move on to higher level. Do bigger jumps and stronger spins eventually prevail in IJS scoring? Only time will tell.

    1. Hi Anony,

      I think a skater needs to work both on her technical and her artistically expressive skills. I also feel strongly though that there is a time and place for demonstrating each.

      As to your judging concerns, I suppose that's a topic for later posts: judging has many tribulations, but then why not skate for the audience, or for your soul, rather than for the judges?

      Thanks for reading and commenting! - Jeff