This week, more insight into the care and maintenance of that elusive creature known as the figure skating judge. As figure skaters, our actual contact with figure skating judges is often severely limited; rarely if ever, do we speak to them or have any kind of significant exchange with them beyond the comments written on our test results sheets. As far as we can tell, they observe us, determine our fate and disappear into the night.
What exactly do they do? Judges assess skaters’ skill levels at figure skating test days held at local clubs. During the tests, he or she acts as the assessor and referee controlling the on-ice activities. When training to be a judge, candidates are taught how to manage test days where the importance of making decisions in the best interests of the skater is emphasized.
Once a skater’s test is completed and the test summary sheet has been signed and given to the skater, coach and parent, the skater can go to the judge for clarification on any points or with any questions they have. Although judges are usually very busy on test days, it is important to talk to them if there are any questions. If approached, they will generally be happy to discuss any questions a coach, skater or parent has. Communication is encouraged, as this is the only way to ensure that everyone is receiving the same information. Most of the time, figure skating judges are happy to provide feedback but they are human and should be treated with tact and respect.
Unfortunately now and again you will come across a judge with an attitude problem. A fellow adult ice skater I know was told by a certain judge that adults had no business skating since it was painful for her (the judge) to watch them. This is a shining example of inappropriate conduct by a judge! This skater would be justified in complaining to the appropriate organization. And as for this particular skater, she now tests in a different region to avoid this judge.
During a figure skating test, only one judge is usually required, unlike a competition, which is judged by a panel of anywhere between three to seven judges. Judges officiate at all levels of competitions, and are responsible for assessing the quality with which a skater performs in competition to determine the skaters’ rankings. In addition to the panel of judges, there is another judge who serves as a referee.
The referee oversees the ice conditions, ensures that all rules applicable to the competition are followed and acts as chairman of the judge’s panel and arbiter in policy or procedure disputes. During an event the referee also trouble shoots; for example, if a skater’s lace comes undone, the referee will take appropriate action. At smaller events, the referee will typically act as both referee and one of the judges. The Referee is also responsible for writing reports on the judges, assessing their performance at a specific event. The reports are reviewed as part of the process of official’s promotions.
What has been your experience with judges? Do you have anything to share with the rest of us to help us to see them in a better light?