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What is proper figure skating attire?

The more experienced skater should wear a skating dress or skirt with warm tights, bodysuit or warm-up pants. The male skaters should wear straight-legged stretch pants and sweater. This enables the coach to see proper body positions. Gloves should be worn for practices and warm ups. Long hair needs to be tied back.


What equipment does my skater require?

What your skate bag contains is largely dependent on what level of skater you are. The following is a guide on what type of equipment is appropriate for each level and sources on where to find it.

CanSkate, Jr. Achievers & Pre-Hockey 


Skates  - The type of skates you choose to wear will reflect what discipline you are learning to skate for. Those interested in figure skating or recreational skating (particularly girls) will prefer a figure skate while those keen on hockey should be in hockey skates. Skaters in the Early Figure Skating Program must wear figure skates. Whatever skates you do select to wear, there are some fitting guidelines to follow. New boots should be comfortable although one should expect some initial discomfort around the ankles and other "pressure points". Often these can be relieved by "popping out" the boot*. The skater's heel should fit snugly in the heel area. A quick test is to have the skater stand in the laced skate. Hold the boot down on the floor and ask them to try and lift their heel. If the heel slides up, then this boot is not right for the foot. Toes should not be cramped and there should be room to raise them slightly.


* This is one of the reasons that we don't recommend that skaters wear the solid plastic skates. They do not offer any way to make adjustments for fit and they simply do not permit the skater to bend properly.


If you are looking for a good basic figure skate, there are several available. Check out the Skater's Edge Shop on Schoolhouse in Coquitlam. They can fit you into a CanSkate appropriate level boot.

For young skaters it never hurts to look at a pair of good used skates. Rarely do young children break down their skates. They grow out of them before that can ever happen. It is better to purchase a pair of good used skates rather than inexpensive new ones. Every September during our Open House, our club also has a used apparel and skate sale.


Helmet  - All children are required to wear a CSA approved Hockey helmet on Intro-CanSkate, CanSkate and Pre-Hockey (hockey helmet with face mask) sessions.


Skate Guards - Save your skates and your sharpening. Skate guards are inexpensive and should be worn when skaters are walking in their skates off the ice. Be sure to label your guards with your skater's name.


Soft Rag - Keep a rag handy to dry blades and skates after use. Do not put wet guards back on after drying!

Fabric Blade Covers - (Optional but recommended) Skaters with figure skates should consider using fabric blade covers to put on their blades after they have been dried off with a rag. The fabric will absorb any additional moisture that wasn't caught by the rag and will protect the blades in the skate bag. These covers can be made or purchased at a skate shop (all colours and patterns are available now including ones with animal heads and legs!)

Clothing - Ensure that they are dressed warmly. Pants that are made on nylon and that are thin are good to wear over warm pants, these nylon pants will keep the skater dry, if they fall and get wet. Nothing fancy is required. Just ensure that the clothing is not too loose and provides some warmth. Mittens or gloves must be worn.

StarSkate and Competitive Skate

Skates - Selecting Skates becomes a little more involved now. While the basic fitting rules suggested above for CanSkate still apply, there are other considerations. It is highly recommended that you see a professional skate fitter to ensure the right fit and get a boot with the appropriate stiffness.


Skate Guards - Save your skates and your sharpening. Skate guards are inexpensive and should be worn when skaters are walking in their skates off the ice. Be sure to label your guards with your skater's name.


Soft Rag - Keep a rag handy to dry blades and skates after use. Do not put wet guards back on after drying!


Fabric Blade Covers - (Optional but recommended) Skaters with figure skates should consider using fabric blade covers to put on their blades after they have been dried off with a rag. The fabric will absorb any additional moisture that wasn't caught by the rag and will protect the blades in the skate bag. These covers can be made or purchased at a skate shop (all colours and patterns are available now including ones with animal heads and legs!)


Screw Driver - (for those with separate blades that are screwed to the boot). Always handy to have incase a screw becomes loose.


Hair Elastics and Clips - There is nothing more frustrating than trying to skate with your hair flipping into your face. Keep extras in your bag for rush days or the day after the new haircut that created more wisps than you could have imagined.


Clothing - Skaters should wear figure skating attire. For girls, a skating dress or skirt with leggings is appropriate. For boys, skaters should ensure that they do not wear loose clothing. There are several different stretchy skating pants on the market. Again, so long as they can move easily and the pants are not baggy, they are fine.


What difference does a skate sharpening make?

The simple answer is A LOT! Figure skating blades must be ground to create a hollow. The depth of the hollow depends on the skater's preference and the discipline they skate in (freeskate versus dance). The hollow creates two edges, inside and outside. The big rule of thumb is: NEVER EVER give your figure skates to someone who only sharpens hockey skates or use any automated skate sharpening machines which are found at some arenas. Trust your skates to someone who knows what they are doing. Close to Coquitlam, there are excellent skate sharpening services at the Skater's Edge Shop. Brad McLean is their master skate technician and this guy knows his stuff. If you want to know about the science and technical stuff about figure skating blade sharpening. 

How Frequently Should I Sharpen My Skates?

Once you feel that your edge is slipping, skidding or you lack the control you feel you normally have, it is time to sharpen. Some skaters don't mind slightly dull blades while others find that they require them to be really sharp. Skaters should take notice how they like their blades so that they can get them sharpened early enough (or close enough) to competitions and tests so that they are perfect when the time counts.


How do I choose a professional coach?

1.) First decide what the goals are for you and your child.

2.) Determine your budget.

3.) Ask lots of questions & talk to a variety of coaches (to determine their availability, qualifications and rates).

4.) Observe various coaches as they instruct other skaters – how they conduct themselves and interact with students.

5.) Talk to the coach of your choice and discuss the first 2 points listed above. Your coach will work with you to meet your needs.


a. Although you are ‘hiring’ a coach, it is important to realize that you always have the freedom to choose who you work with. (…In accordance with the Code of Ethics)

b. You get to choose what disciplines of skating you wish to pursue.

c. You can modify your goals.

d. If there are financial considerations, you can ask your coach to organize ‘small group’ or semi-private lessons.

e. You must make a commitment to the agreed schedule/lesson times with your coach.

f. Your coach must make a commitment to the agreed schedule/lesson times with your child.

g. As a courtesy, a minimum of 24 hours notice is appreciated should coach/skater need to cancel a lesson.


PLEASE NOTE – Code of Ethics: Ethically, it is the ‘new’ coach’s responsibility to ensure that you are not currently engaged in a coaching arrangement with someone else. If you are, you are certainly free to decide whom you hire, but you MUST first notify the ‘old’ coach you are switching from, that their services will no longer be required. All outstanding bills must also be paid to that coach in full before lessons with the new coach can begin.


My Skater is Entering Their First Competition, What Do I Need To Know?

Competitions are great fun for skaters and a great experience too. It is an opportunity for them to show all the great skills they have learned and meet other skaters from other clubs at their level. All local competitions use the same calculation system as at international competitions (OBO, which stands for One-By-One). With the exception of Section (BC and Yukon) Championships and other high level competitions, marks are not displayed at the conclusion of each skater's performance. A system of closed or semi-closed marking is used instead and these marks are not published. Only the judges placements are posted along with the final results.


So, now that your coach has approached you about entering a competition, it's time to get organized.

How to Enter a Competition

Each competition has an entry form that will ask you to fill out basic personal information, your skater's Skate Canada registration number and indicate which category your skater will be competing in. Your coach will tell you what category to register for. Submit the completed entry form and cheque for the entry fee to the test chair (unless specified, it is always payable to the club).

Closer to the date of the competition you will receive by mail information listing: the name of event and group number that your skater is competing in. Pay careful attention to the group number as not all groups may be run together on the same day. If a schedule is not included, ask your coach or test chair for one. Inform your coach of the group that your skater is in so they can plan their schedule accordingly.

Now that you have entered the competition, it is time to answer that all important question:


What To Wear??
When in doubt, the rule of thumb for competition wear is Keep it Simple!

Your coach will probably have some suggestions, but if they aren't too particular or forthcoming, go by these guidelines:

  • Consider the music your child is skating to.

  • Look at ready made dresses for ideas and ask other parents if they have any suggestions.

  • Consider your child's colouring and what looks good on the ice.

  • Remember that they have to jump and spin in this outfit.

  • Test Drive the Outfit. Have your skater try out the dress or outfit on a practice session prior to the competition to ensure that everything looks and works the way it should.

  • Consider the Cost: There is a dress for every budget out there particularly at the upper end. If you sew you are definitely at an advantage. Absorbing the labour costs, particularly when it comes to adding sparkle, can save you money. To purchase a ready made dress, you are probably looking in the neighborhood of $80 and up. Sometimes, it is advantageous to purchase a basic ready made dress and add the sparkle yourself. Your coach and other parents can also recommend sewers in and out of the club to you. Just remember that like skates and the jeans you bought your skater in September, they will grow out of the competition dress soon enough and they won't get nearly the wear out of the dress as they do the jeans. Many competition dresses (if not too tight) are often retired to practice dresses when their day is done.

  • Leggings. While some skaters like to only wear a pair or two of nylons, most choose to wear leggings. Leggings that just cover the top of the boot or cover the entire boot are both fine. While there is no rule against stirrups, many people (including some judges) view them as practice wear and find them distracting to the eye. Just remember that if you are wearing the type that doesn't cover the entire boot, your laces and boots should be clean and polished.

  • Hair & Makeup. It must be well secured to ensure it won't fall out halfway through the program. While pulling only half the hair back may look great with the dress, the back (if long) still tends to flop about and look messy while they skate. Buns, French Braids and even a neat and tidy ponytail are always a good bet. Makeup wise, don't overpower young skaters. A bit of colour is all they need and don't push the issue if they don't want it.


Competition Day - The Checklist
  • Skates

  • Extra Laces (you never know when a break will happen)

  • Skate Guards

  • Extra Tape or CD of Program

  • The Outfit

  • Leggings

  • Club Jacket or sweater and gloves (to wear during warmup)

  • Toiletries (hairspray, bobby pins, make up etc.)

  • Camera and/or Video Camera. Note: Flash photography is NOT permitted during performances but there is a place (with a professional photographer) where you can take pictures.

  • Map to Arena (know the route and alternatives to take to get there).


If you forget something, there are usually skate shop vendors on site that can help you out with things like guards and laces. But depending on when your skater is scheduled to skate, they may not be open.

Ensure that you are at the Arena at LEAST one hour prior to the scheduled start of your event. Competitions may run ahead of the scheduled time by up to 30 minutes and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are there on time. Use the road reports on the radio to help you avoid traffic problems and allow plenty of time if you are traveling during rush hour and are unfamiliar with the route or how busy it becomes during peak travel times.

At the Competition

When you get to the arena, look for signs indicating the skater's entrance and directing you to registration.

  • Register your skater

  • Submit your music to the registration desk. A volunteer will then provide your skater with a competition ribbon (if available) and any other goodies if they have them. They can also help give you an idea of whether the competition is running on schedule.

  • Locate the Starting Order for your Group. Skaters in a group are further divided into flights. There is a separate warm-up for each flight of skaters. Determine which flight your skater is in so that you can tell your coach and prepare your warm-up accordingly.

  • Locate your Coach. Your coach may be with other skaters that are competing before you. But, be assured they know you are coming and will be there to help you. You can help them out by taking time to start warming up and stretching.

  • Do a Proper Warmup. Find a warm place to get your muscles moving and stretched out. Your coach will also help to ensure that you are warm and ready to go. They will also tell you when you should get your skates on and take you down to the dressing rooms.

  • Check in with the Starter. The starter is the person who stands by the side of the ice making sure that the right skaters go on the ice at the right time. Periodically they will go down to the dressing room area to see that the next group of skaters are in attendance.


Did you know? All judges are volunteers too. They are not paid locally or internationally


When it is your turn to skate your program, go out and have a great time! Enjoy the moment and just give it your best effort.

Don't forget to smile (and a curtsy or bow at the end to the spectators and judges is always a great way to finish your program).

After You Have Skated

After your group has skated, the results will be posted. If you are not sure where they are posting results (sometimes they are in the same place as the Starting Orders) ask the volunteer at the Registration Desk. If there are finals for your event, see if you have made the cut. If so, check to see when you are scheduled to skate again. There are often medals and ribbons presented to skaters in the first 6 places at the Pre-Preliminary to Junior Bronze levels. There will be a notice above the results section indicating what the competition policy is. Usually medals and ribbons are presented about 30 minutes following the posting of results at the photographer's podium. Be sure to congratulate your fellow competitors on their efforts.

Before you leave the arena, remember to pick up your CD from the registration desk!

Always remember to have fun and enjoy the experience of competing. That is what it is all about. You are representing our club when you compete so be sure to show your fellow competitors what a great sportsman you are. It is OK to be disappointed if you don't skate the best, you can. We all can't be at our best 100% of the time. All anyone expects of you is that you try. No matter what result you receive, your club and your parents are proud of you for trying your best!


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