There are all sorts of figure skating tests, but pattern ice dance tests are conducted in a different way than free skating and moves in the field tests since skaters test each ice dance in the test separately.
Figure skaters begin with the Preliminary Ice Dance test, then progress through the Pre-Bronze, Bronze, Pre-Silver, Silver, and Pre-Gold test levels. There are three dances included in the Prelimary, Pre-Bronze, Bronze, Pre-Silver, and Silver tests, and four pattern dances make up the Pre-Gold test and four more dances make up the Gold Dance test. By the time a figure skater gets to the Gold Dance test, he or she has already passed 19 individual pattern dances!
Passing the four dances on the Gold dance test, the Quickstep, the Argentine Tango, the Viennese Waltz, and the Westminster Waltz, means that a figure skater has passed a total of 23 pattern ice dances and has achieved one of the highest accomplishments in figure skating. The passing standard for the gold dances is so very high, and once those dances are passed, the skater earns the title of US Figure Skating Gold Medalist.
During most ice dance test sessions, those who are testing first skate and warm up for about five to ten minutes. During the “warm-up” period, the skaters practice the dance they are about to test to music. There may be a group of skaters warming up at the same time. After the warm-up, the skaters clear the ice.
Next, each ice dancer will skate his or her test dance with a partner in front of the judges. The couple will be the only skaters on the ice sheet during the test.
From a stationary starting position and pose, the music will start and the testing skater and his or her testing partner will do some introductory steps to gain speed and then skate the required number of patterns after the music begins. When the required number of dance patterns are completed, the skaters will end their dance with a graceful ending. They may bow and then they will leave the ice sheet.
The Silver, Pre-Gold, and Gold pattern ice dances require a solo performance in addition to the partnered patterns. It is common for the partner to escort the testing skater to the starting location which is usually at the opposite end of the arena where the partnered dance began. After the partner leaves the ice, the testing skater will wait again in a stationary starting position and then the music will begin. The skater will again skate some introductory steps to gain momentum and then perform two patterns of the dance and then complete his or her solo patterns with a graceful ending.
Pattern ice dance tests are usually performed in front three judges, but the lower level pattern ice dance tests may be judged by one judge. After each testing skater performs, the judges will write down comments and marks on a test paper. Those papers are turned into the figure skating club’s test chairman and then the test papers are given to the testing skater and his or her coach. If a skater passes the test by at least two of the three judges, he or she has passed the dance.
There is nothing like the feeling of passing an ice dance test!
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- Understanding figure skating tests and levels
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