New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Association Inc.
New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Association Inc.

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New Zealand Ice Figure Skating FAQ

Version 1.7.2 (15 August 2009)


Starting Out / Choosing a Coach

Where can I or my child learn to skate?

Group skate school (Kiwi Skate) programmes are available at rinks throughout New Zealand. You can find more information in the Learn to Skate section of the NZIFSA website.

What age should a skater start skating?

Any age! Kiwi Skate programmes include levels from tiny tots (at about age 4 or 5) to adult classes for ages up to 75. There are competitions for children and adults including national and international events for those interested in competing.

What next?

Skaters who wish to continue in the sport generally move from skate school to taking private lessons. The transition from skate school to private lessons can generally occur whenever the skater feels ready, and it’s not uncommon for skaters to stay in skate school while taking additional private lessons.

At some rinks, development programmes exist that bridge the gap between skate school and private lessons. These development groups are usually smaller and more focused than the skate school programmes. Ask your skate school coach or the rink if such programmes are available for you or your child.

Are there special sessions for I/my child to skate on?

Yes. All rinks have special sessions which are exclusively for figure skaters to practice. On some or all of these sessions the skater may be expected to have achieved a certain level of proficiency. The rink or your coach will be able to tell you more.

In addition, some clubs also have other sessions which may only be open to club members.

How do I choose a coach for private lessons?

Try to be as informed as possible about qualifications and coaching style/personality. Talk to the coaches directly. The "most" qualified coach will almost certainly not be the best coach for you or your child if the coach’s style/personality doesn’t suit you or your child.

How do I change private coaches?

You should talk to your current coach before you take even a single lesson with another coach. If you just want to try lessons with a different coach first, you really need to let your existing coach know what you intend to do.

Remember, it is your choice who you want as a private coach, but do let your current coach know in advance of your plans.


Medal Tests & TC Registration

What are medal tests?

Testing is a normal part of the skate school (Kiwi Skate) programme. However, the NZIFSA manages a separate set of medal tests which are evaluated by judges rather than a skate school coach. This testing programme is used to set the entry level criteria for competition, however skaters may choose not to compete and only take tests.

Testing tracks are available in singles, ice dancing and pairs, and in both normal and adult tracks. You must belong to a club and be TC registered to take tests.

How does one sign up to take a test?

Talk to your coach, he/she can tell you what is required to take the test. To sign up for a test, get a form from your club secretary or from your coach.

What is TC registration?

TC (Test and Competition) Registration is an annual registration which is required for any skater who wishes to take NZISA medal tests or compete in any NZIFSA grade. Skaters must be a member of an affiliated club to TC register.

TC Registration is valid until 31 March the following year. So, if you register in Feb 2009 your TC registration will be valid until 31 March 2010.

Skaters must complete a TC Registration Form each year before they will be allowed to compete or take tests in that year. The TC registration form should be sent to the club secretary along with payment made out to the club.

However, TC registration is not required to take part in skate school (Kiwi Skate) tests and skate school events in competitions.

Where can I find a club?

A list of NZIFSA affiliated clubs can be found in the Clubs section of the NZIFSA website.

What’s a home club?

Skaters may belong to more than one club and many do. TC registered skaters, however, must select a home club when they TC register. This will be the club the skater will compete for at Nationals.

A skater may only change their home club once a year at the time of TC registration. However, if a skater relocates, a change of home club may be requested by writing to the NZIFSA.


New Zealand Competition

When can a skater start competing?

As soon as they feel ready. NZIFSA competitions at club and sub-association generally include the pre-elementary level which has no entry requirements other than a skater belongs to a club and is TC registered.

There are also skate school competitions or events at club competitions (open to non-members) which have no requirements at all.

What grade may a skater participate in?

Grades for New Zealand competitions are set by the tests that have been taken. For singles skating, the following table applies. It is important to note that once a skater skates in a higher grade, they may not skate again in a lower grade. See NZIFSA Rule 227 and 228.1 for more details.

Singles Events
GradeMinimum Stroking TestMinimum Free Skate TestAge
Senior Test 6 (Inter Gold) Test 6 (Inter Gold) no restriction
Junior Test 5 (Silver) Test 5 (Silver) no restriction
Novice Test 4 (Inter Silver) Test 4 (Inter Silver) no restriction
Intermediate Test 3 (Bronze) Test 3 (Bronze) no restriction
Primary Test 3 (Bronze) Test 3 (Bronze) under 14 **
Pre Primary Test 2 (Inter Bronze) Test 2 (Inter Bronze) no restriction
Juvenile Test 1 (Preliminary) Test 1 (Preliminary) under 18 *, **
Elementary Test 0 (Elementary) Test 0 (Elementary) no restriction ***
Pre Elementary no test required no test required no restriction ***
* Juvenile is split into a grade for under 12 and one for 12 and over (but under 18).
** age on 30 June immediately preceding the championship.
*** may be split into age groups, recommendations only, not a Nationals grade.

May a skater change grades at any time during the year?

Yes, as long as he or she fulfills the age and test requirements. However, a skater may never compete in a lower grade than they have competed in previously -- once a skater moves up they cannot go back. However, a skater may skate in only senior and later in junior and senior under certain conditions (see May a skater participate in more than one grade at the same competition?).

A skater cannot compete in both adult and regular events in the same discipline in the same calendar year.

If a skater has passed the tests to compete in the next grade up are they required to?

No. However, once a skater does compete in the next grade up they may not compete in a lower grade ever again (see also next question).

May a skater participate in more than one grade at the same competition?

Skaters may participate in multiple disciplines (dance, pairs, singles, etc.) and in different grades in the different disciplines. However, skaters may not participate in different grades in the same discipline, except that a skater may skate in both junior and senior grades only under the following conditions:

Note that a skater may skate in only senior and later in junior and senior as long as they meet these requirements (see NZISA Rule 228.1).

A skater cannot compete in both adult and regular events in the same discipline in the same calendar year.


International Competition

May anyone compete overseas?

Yes! Club and regional competitions in Australia are usually open to New Zealand skaters who want to participate. You just need to let the NZIFSA know before you make arrangements to attend, permission of the NZIFSA is not required.

Skaters may also be able to participate in a variety of Inter-Club International competitions in Europe and elsewhere. You just need to let the NZIFSA know before you make arrangements to attend. It is important that you only participate in international competitions sanctioned by a member federation of the ISU.

Skaters who participate in Junior and Senior ISU International Competitions and ISU Championships are chosen by the NZIFSA during selections at Nationals each year (typically held in September).

For Australian Nationals, a special selection competition is held around May to select additional skaters (who were not chosen at the time of Nationals).

If I am competing overseas am I representing New Zealand?

Maybe. International competitions are roughly divided into Inter-Club Internationals and ISU International Competitions and Championships. For Inter-Club Internationals, entry is made by the skater through their club -- competition announcements will often specify this or say nothing. For ISU International Competitions and Championships the entry forms will clearly state that entries must be made by an ISU Member (i.e. the NZIFSA). If you are competing in an ISU International Competition or Championships you will require selection by the NZIFSA and you will be representing New Zealand when you attend. At Inter-Club Internationals you will be representing your club.

What are the age restrictions for ISU/International events?

ISU sanctioned events are separated into ISU Championships and International Competitions and there may be different rules depending on this distinction. ISU Championships have the word Championship in the name of the event.

EventMinimum Age *Maximum Age *
Olympic Winter Games 15 no limit
ISU Senior Championships 15 no limit
International Senior Competitions 14 no limit
ISU Junior Championships (Singles) 13 18
International Junior Competitions (Singles) 13 18
ISU Junior Championships (Ice Dancing/Pairs) 13 18 (ladies)
20 (men)
International Junior Competitions (Ice Dancing/Pairs) 13 18 (ladies)
20 (men)
ISU Senior Synchro Championships 14 no limit
International Senior Synchro Competitions 14 no limit
ISU Junior Synchro Championships 12 18
International Junior Synchro Competitions 12 18
* age on 30 June immediately preceding the event.

Isn’t it the skater’s age on 1 July (not 30 June)?

No. The ISU wording is usually something like "has not reached the age of 19 before July 1st preceding the competition", i.e. the skater must be 18 years of age or less on the 30th of June.

How does a skater get to the Olympics?

In singles skating, New Zealand has an opportunity to send a skater to the Olympic games by having a competitor finish in the top 24 at Senior Worlds just prior to the Olympics, or by finishing in the top 6 or so at a designated qualifying event that takes place after Worlds. The exact placings required are complicated by the way the 30 Olympic berths are distributed among countries. (For details see ISU Rule 400).

Even though entry to the Olympics is not based on total score, if we look at the minimum total score required to gain entry to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, it was approximately 150 for men and 115 for ladies, but this will, of course, vary from Olympics to Olympics. The minimum points required for selection to the 2010 Olympics are expected to be very close to these numbers.


Competition Rules

What system is used for judging?

At club, sub-association and national level the ISU Judging System (IJS) must be used for all NZIFSA grades. At club and sub-association competitions, non-NZIFSA grades may use the old 6.0 system.

What are the rules?

All the rules that govern competition are written and can be found in the Rules & Regulation section. The ISU General and Special Regulations apply as well as the NZIFSA Rules & Regulations which extend and alter the ISU rules to the lower grades and provide additional or altered rules for New Zealand needs.

In addition to the ISU Constitution and General and Special Regulations (which change only every 2 years) the ISU issues Communications which include details, interpretations, clarifications and changes to the rules.

Note that many of the ISU regulations specifically state that they apply at ISU Competitions, ISU Championships, or the Olympics. These rules never automatically apply at New Zealand competitions or championships.

What is a planned programme content (PPC)?

A planned programme content (PPC) is a form that generally needs to be completed as a part of competition entry.

The PPC lists all the elements (jumps, spins, footwork sequences, etc) that a skater plans to perform (and in the order he/she plans to perform them).

Does a skater have to execute his/her programme exactly as described in the planned programme content (PPC)?

No. The PPC is only to help speed up the technical panel evaluation of the programme. The PPC is not used in scoring the programme in any way. A skater may perform a completely different set of elements than was in their PPC.

Will a skater be penalised for extra elements?

Maybe. There is no actual deduction for extra elements in either the short or free programmes, and a skater may achieve a higher transitions score for the additional elements. However, skaters are limited in the number of jump elements they can perform. For instance, this is 5 for the Juvenile freeskate (NZISA Rule 229.2). Jumps after this, simply do not count. However, if a skater performs the required Axel-type jump as the 6th jump (in the juvenile freeskate), then it doesn’t count, and because the 5th jump should have been an Axel-type jump, the 5th jump doesn’t count either.

Similarly, skaters are limited in the total number of elements they can perform, and in the total number of spins.

If a skater performs all the required elements before any duplicate or additional elements, then the additional elements will not count against the skater.

What about repeated jumps in the freeskate?

For all grades up to and including Novice only three jumps may be repeated and a repeated jump must be included in at least one jump-combination or jump sequence. Note that jumps with a different number of rotations are counted as different jumps. Also note that no jump may be attempted more than twice. Note that both instances of a repeated jump may be done in jump-combinations and/or jump sequences or in the same jump-combination or jump sequence.

For Junior and Senior, the ISU rules apply which are the same except that they only apply to triple and quad jumps. See ISU Rule 520 part 2, Repetitions. There is a further restriction on double Axel, it can only be exectuted three times. Junior and Senior skaters are free to execute other double jumps without restrictions on the number of repetitions (however, excessive repetition may result in a lower choreography mark).

What does "only one change of foot" mean?

In regards to spins, the ISU and the NZISA use the words "only one change of foot" to mean "exactly one change of foot".

What about elements completed after the maximum allowed time?

Elements started after the maximum allowed time for a programme will not count. Elements started before and completed after the maximum allowed time will count, however, you will, of course, incur a time violation.

What is an illegal element?

For singles skating it is a somersault type jump, lying down on the ice, or prolonged and/or stationary kneeling on both knees. There is a 2.0 deduction for every illegal element in a programme.

What is a time violation?

A time violation is a deduction (-1.0 points) for every 5 seconds skating over or under the allowed time (e.g. 0.01 to 5.00 seconds is -1.0 point, 5.01 to 10.00 seconds -2.0 points, etc.). The time starts when the skater first begins to move or skate until the skater arrives at a complete stop at the end of the programme. The time allowed for the programme is set in the NZIFSA Rules and Regulations or in the competition announcement.


ISU Judging System Details

Are all the judges’ marks used?

In New Zealand competitions (and most International Competitions), all judges marks are used and the names of the judges and their respective scores are published.

However, when there are five or more judges on a panel, then the highest and lowest GOEs and highest and lowest Programme Components are often discarded.

At ISU Junior and Senior Championships, Senior Grand Prix events and the Olympics, up to 3 random judges marks will be discarded for the entire event by a sealed computer program. The high and low marks of the remaining judges are also discarded. Each judge’s score is kept secret in these events and so judges names are not published next to their scores and the marks are randomised.

When does the second half bonus begin?

The base value of jump elements is multiplied by 1.1 in the second half of the programme. The second half is not the second half of the skater’s programme, but the second half of the (base) time published in the rules. The second half starts at the second after the first half. For example, if the time allowed for the programme is 2 minutes (+/- 10 seconds), then the second half starts at 1:01 (1 minute and 1 second into the programme). Note that the bonus is only for jump elements -- there is no bonus for spins, spirals, or footwork sequences performed in the second half.

I noticed a skater received GOEs of -1, 0, and 1 from the three judges for a single loop, but for the element they received GOE points of 0.07, why wasn’t this 0.00?

This is a rather surprising, but common occurrence under the IJS. This happens because the -1, -2, and -3 GOEs do not have the same absolute value as the +1, +2, and +3 GOEs, so a +1 GOE might give +0.3 points and a -1 GOE might give -0.1 points. In this case, with 3 judges giving +1, -1, and 0, the average GOE points is +0.07 (i.e. (+0.3 -0.1 +0.0)/3). This is the exact case for all the single jumps (except Axel). There are similar issues with all spins, all step and spiral sequences and with single Axel and all double jumps. Really only triple and quad jumps would give (the expected) 0.00 GOE points in this case.

Increasing speed is a difficult variation in camel, sit and lay back spin. Does this feature counts also when going from one position to another position?

No - increasing speed counts only in the basic position or while going within a basic position into its variation.

Does a change from side to back in a layback position within a Spin Combination count as a feature?

Yes. This is logical and in line with the features in a layback spin.

Upright position in spins includes layback, Biellmann or similar variations. What is similar?

“Similar” means a position with the free leg higher than the head, but not above it which you can reach from upright position. If, however, a skater reaches such a position from a camel by grapping the free leg, this is considered a camel and not an upright variation.

Can a change of foot in a spin be performed with a toe-Arabian jump?”

No, this change of foot is allowed and will be considered as a difficult change of foot and will count as a feature only in Free Skating. If performed in Short Program, such change of foot will be considered as an error, will not count as a feature and the GOE will be reduced according to the ISU guidelines for touching the ice with the free foot.



What is eligibility anyway?

The ISU requires that skaters only skate in competitions and other events that have been sanctioned by the NZIFSA or the ISU or another ISU Member federation.

You must ensure that whenever you compete or participate in exhibitions and demonstrations, the event is properly sanctioned. All events held by NZIFSA affiliated organisations are sanctioned. If you wish to participate in an event not held by an NZIFSA affiliated organisation and you are unsure about the NZIFSA rules regarding sanctioning and participation, then you can write to the NZIFSA for clarification.

The purpose of the ISU eligibility rules is to preserve the economic interests of the ISU, Member federations, and skaters.

What about coaching, I heard this could make me ineligible?

Coaching is no longer a part of NZIFSA or ISU eligibility rules. Skaters are free to coach as often as they are able. And professional coaches are free to skate as they like. There are no longer any reporting requirements or other forms to file and skaters do not need to seek the permission of the NZIFSA to coach.

May competitive skaters serve on committees?

In general, yes. Competitive skaters may serve on the NZIFSA Council and on the committees of most clubs. However some clubs may have rules in their constitution which prohibit this. In most cases, skaters under 16 may not serve on a committee.

May professional coaches take tests?

Yes. Coaches may take NZIFSA tests without restriction.

May professional coaches serve on committees?

In general, yes. Coaches are able to serve on the NZIFSA Council. However clubs may have provisions in their constitution that would not allow coaches to serve on their committees.


NZIFSA Website

How do I get a username and password to access the Forums or Members’ Area?

You must be a member of a club, or be a coach, official or volunteer. Click on the "Members’ Area" in the menu to the left, then click on "create an account". Once your application is approved you will receive your username and password via email.

Should I logout of the Members’ Area or Forums?

If you are using a public or shared computer the answer is yes. If it’s your own personal computer at home, it’s generally not necessary and much more convenient not to have to login each time.

What is this eList stuff?

The NZIFSA eList is a set of email mailing lists. Anyone who is a member of an affiliated club may subscribe to mailing lists offering a variety of information. You can change your eList subscriptions in the myNZIFSA section of the Members’ Area.

The NZIFSA will send you email notices and information on the eList topics you have subscribed to.