FFSC Holiday Exhibition 2017

What is Figure Skating?

Figure Skating is a graceful Olympic sport with a 150-year history that is practiced year-round on indoor ice rinks. On television or to the casual observer, figure skating may look easy, but in reality, skaters work very hard to create that illusion. Figure skating involves many different precision moves and elements on the ice, including stroking, turns, jumps, spins, lifts, and dance moves. There are five disciplines within figure skating:

  • Mens Singles Skating
  • Ladies Single Skating
  • Ice Dance
  • Pairs
  • Synchronized Team Skating

In the United States, figure skating is governed by US Figure Skating, which is a member of the International Skating Union (ISU), which in turn represents the sport on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Skaters who join a US Figure Skating member club such as Flagstaff Figure Skating Club (FFSC) automatically become a member of the national organization and have the right to participate in US Figure Skating-sanctioned events. US Figure Skating divides the country into Sections and Regions. Arizona is in the Pacific Coast Section and the Southwest Pacific Region.

Figure Skating for Everyone

There are two tracks in the sport of figure skating. Skaters under 21 years old always start in the Standard Track and can progress from the Basic Skills level all the way to the US Olympic Team.

The Adult Track is open to skaters 21 years and older, starting from the Basic Skills level and progressing to the Adult World Championship level. Adult skaters can participate in either track. For more on adult skating, see our Adult Skating page.


As figure skaters progress, they have the option to test in front of a judging panel and achieve higher test levels in moves in the field, free skating, pairs, and dance. If desired, they can then compete in US Figure Skating-sanctioned competitions at their test level.

Even if you don't intend to compete, testing in the Standard or Adult tracks gives you a goal. Passing a test level is an internationally recognized demonstration of your skating skill. Skaters who pass Senior or Gold tests are honored as Gold Medalists by US Figure Skating in recognition of their achievement. Coaches work with their students to decide when a skater is ready to test. FFSC holds test sessions approximately twice a year in Flagstaff, usually in February and August. The skating clubs in Phoenix usually hold test sessions monthly.


Both young and adult skaters enjoy competing. Competitions are of two basic types. The majority of competitions, such as our own Ice in the Pines, are local or regional non-qualifying competitions, in which the primary purpose is to compete against other skaters at your level in a wide variety of events. Qualifying competitions are held at the regional, sectional, and national levels. The top skaters in each discipline and test level qualify to advance to the next competition level, with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the World or Olympic teams.

How do I become a Figure Skater?

  1. Take group lessons in the Learn to Skate USA program offered by FFSC
  2. Join FFSC or another club
  3. Get a pair of figure skating boots and blades
  4. Buy freestyle ice time
  5. Take private lessons from a coach

Learn to Skate USA

Learn to Skate USA (LTS) is a program of group skating lessons developed by US Figure Skating, USA Hockey, and US Speedskating, and offered by FFSC at Jay Live Ice Arena. These group lessons are a great way to give ice skating a try. Learn to Skate lessons are inexpensive, you don't have to join a club, and the lessons are geared for everyone from young children to older adults, and for people interested in recreational skating and ice hockey as well as figure skating. For details on our Learn to Skate program, see Learn to Skate. To sign up for Learn to Skate, use our online membership system. If you have questions, please use our contact form.

If you wish to progress beyond the LTS level, you can join FFSC and skate on reserved freestyle ice time at the city-owned Jay Lively Ice Arena. Joining FFSC allows you to test and compete at any US Figure Skating-sanctioned event.

You'll find membership information on the Membership page. To join the club, use our online membership system. If you have questions, please use our contact form

Where do I get skates?

Skate rentals are available at the rink, but keep in mind that rental skates and recreational skates are only adequate for beginner skaters. To advance in figure skating, the skater must have supportive figure skating boots and specially designed skate blades. The boot/blade combination is designed to make possible the edging, moves, jumps, and spins that are central to the sport. Skaters have different skate requirements as their skills improve. Discuss this important purchase with your coach before spending any money.

Occasionally used skates can be bought from other members. Ask your coach if they know of anyone who has skates for sale. For new skates, FFSC members usually go to Phoenix to be fitted by a professional skate technician. See Links for contact information and Web sites.

When can I skate?

FFSC buys ice time from the City of Flagstaff to hold freestyle (figure skating) sessions for our members. The club charges our membership to use the ice in order to cover our costs. Skaters use ice time to have lessons with their coach and to practice their skills when not in lessons. See the Club Ice page for the current schedule and more information. Skaters can also practice figure skating on public sessions (with certain safety restrictions) offered by the ice rink. See Jay Lively Ice Arena for the current schedule.

Can Non-Members Skate on Club Ice?

Yes- see the Club Ice page for details.

What should I wear?

Appropriate skate attire is required during club ice. No clothing items should drag on the ice at any time. Any jewelry and accessories should be secured from falling onto the ice for the safety of all skaters. Dress warmly and in layers that can be removed as you warm up. Gloves or mittens should be worn for warmth and to protect your hands from falls on rough ice. Some coaches have policies on skate attire, and you should follow your coach’s recommendation. Please make sure long hair is pulled back to keep vision clear.

How do lessons with a coach work?

Each coach has their own pricing schedule and policies. Coaches normally charge by the hour but often teach in 15 minute and 30 minute increments. Some coaches can combine lessons with other students of similar skill levels and can price accordingly for semi-private lessons. All payment for coaching is conducted between the coach and the student. When you have made arrangements with a coach for a lesson, it is the skater’s responsibility to be on time, on the ice, and warmed up for that lesson. Skaters unable to attend a scheduled lesson are asked to contact their coach well in advance. Each coach has their own cancellation policies- please review these with your coach.

How do I choose a coach?

Review the coaches’ qualifications on the Coaches page and give them a call. Please discuss their policies and any special needs that you may have before choosing. It is a good idea to talk to several coaches. Coaches are often free to meet with prospective students before or after club sessions. Some coaches will give a free introductory lesson so skaters can see how well they fit with that coach. (Ice time must still be paid for.) Prospective members are welcome to attend club sessions at any time to observe and ask questions of board members and parents.

What are the responsibilities of figure skating parents?

See the Ten Commandments for Figure Skating Parents.

Bad weather days

Check to be sure the rink is open and a senior member is present before dropping your junior member off at the rink. A senior member or parent MUST be present during club ice in order for junior members to skate. A parent or designated adult remain at the rink during the entire session to supervise any child under 8 years old both on and off the ice. Parents may share this responsibility with other parents or responsible older siblings. FFSC and its coaches do not assume responsibility for the supervision of junior members.


FFSC asks parents and members to volunteer to help out with club functions, including test sessions, exhibitions, ice rink open house days, competitions, and club freestyle sessions. While all volunteer positions are valuable and greatly appreciated by the club, the Ice Monitor has one of the most important jobs- overseeing club freestyle sessions. See Club Ice for a description of the Ice Monitor's duties.

More information

If you have any questions, please contact any FFSC Board member. To learn more about the sport of figure skating, check out the Links page.