International Competitive Figure Skating – Issues and Events

Tracking ISU and U.S. Figure Skating Events, Issues and Governance

Janet Lynn Response to PSA’s “Rebuttal to Janet Lynn Editorial” April 29, 2014

Is the Discussion about Figure Skating?

Rip or Whisper an Edge

Presuming that figure skating entities exist for the preservation of figure skating, I invite you to join in a discussion about the essence of figure skating, the edge. Unlike studies of a rule book and tests online, privileged are those with an opportunity to study and experience the qualities of a refined, hushed, edge.

Communications with coaches informed me in 2012 that they cannot teach a hushed, “whispering” edge; if they do, their skaters will not pass Moves in the Field tests.

Who created the Moves in the Field tests and who trains the judges who judge them? Who sponsors these tests? Who creates expectations for qualities of edges? Is the PSA Moves in the Field manual related to USFS tests that judge edges? Do USFS and PSA work in collaboration or are they merely independent figure skating entities? Which organization takes responsibility for the present dismal state of figure skating in the U.S.?

Mr. Jimmie Santee missed the point, not answering legitimate questions in my Open Inquiry. His response called “Rebuttal to Janet Lynn Editorial on April 28, 2014 did state:

“First, U.S. Figure Skating and PSA are separate organizations.”

Technicalities aside (my apologies for misstating distinguishing rules,) it is disingenuous for Mr. Santee to blur lines and separate PSA from USFS, especially in matters of testing and certifying coaches. In the July/August 2013 PSA Magazine on page 5 Mr. Santee wrote as this appears:

“The most important event to take place in 1997 was the agreement signed between USFSA and PSA on May 21, 1997 to a standing ovation at the International Conference in Nashville. The agreement officially recognized the PSA as the official Coaches Education, Certification and Training Program of the USFSA to the USOC and maintained its governance over the sport of figure skating, while the PSA maintained its control of development and delivery of all coaching programs, education, certification, and training.”

Let’s discuss teaching the edge. Inquiries and research in 2012 through both USFS and PSA indicated that the PSA Moves in the Field manual required that an edge to gain speed must “RIP,” as the coaches mentioned above had told me.

In a letter to Mr. Santee, Executive Director of the Professional Skater’s Association, on March 7, 2012, I included the official written account from a PSA representative about the word “rip” relating to an edge. Efforts to find the word “rip” in official documents are appreciated. This discussion does not reflect upon the PSA representative, only on the official PSA explanation of the “rip” on edges. It read:

“[In] …our Moves in the Field booklet…[were] found the words ‘hear the ‘rip’” in three distinct places—pages 23, 30, and 38. The booklet does not refer to edge quality as ‘ripping. It only refers to the ‘rip’ in regards to power pulls and forward/backward cross-strokes in which the focus is POWER. When generating power on the ice you do hear a ‘ripping’ sound. The third place is on the slide chasses on the Intermediate test (p. 38) where again you are generating power on the two forward inside edges. Judges should not be looking for a “rip” sound on true edges or where edge quality is the primary focus, only where power is being generated.”

My response and explanation to a USFS representative was also included in my letter to Mr. Santee at the PSA dated March 7, 2012.

In the techniques which I was taught and observed in other champions of my generation, a ripping sound was not indicative of the best way to gain power. Indeed, at the Olympics in Grenoble, France in 1968 when I was 14, during a practice session outdoors on a rink in the middle of a speed skating ring, my brilliant coach Slavka Kohout asked me to stop practicing for a bit. She had me stand on the side and watch and listen to Peggy Fleming’s skating. Slavka said to me, ‘Listen how quiet she is and watch how fast she goes!’ One can see quiet speeding movement across the ice in many champions…

The need to have a ripping edge at any time to gain power, including power pulls, is not necessary and in my view is erroneous. It is my strong suggestion that this language and expectation be immediately changed in the PSA Moves in the Field book. It is confusing to coaches, judges and skaters. It is propagating methods of teaching fast skating in ways that are inefficient and dangerous to the body. Skating an edge or pushing onto an edge in a way that makes a ripping sound, indicates a body dangerously out of alignment. I have been observing such dangerous and total lack of alignment on fast skating and power pulls over the past year or so.

Edges, turns and gaining speed should “whisper.” It is possible, and desirable, to gain much speed efficiently without ripping sounds…”

Some may want it to remain unsaid, but ripping an edge to gain speed increases risk of injury.

I requested to Mr. Santee that PSA simply remove the word “rip” from its PSA Moves in the Field manual to dispel confusion. Not having permission to print the response I received from the Executive Director of PSA, suffice to say I strongly disagree about when and how to teach the hushed, “whispering” edge. Fundamentals matter.

USFS, in collaboration with PSA, have taken upon themselves unprecedented control of whether figure skating knowledge will be preserved. Honest evaluation reveals the essence of figure skating is being lost. Through many communications it has become clear that those who make a living in U.S. figure Skating are concerned of retribution from USFS and PSA if voicing honest opinions about the edge– or any other issue.

Paying any entity in order to keep up to date on convoluted constantly changing rules does not constitute the reason skating exists. Control mechanisms appearing through roaming rules and burdensome online tests will not stabilize or preserve the essence of figure skating, or give U.S. figure skaters the edge.

A non-skating friend learned recently that my skating is the reason the fundamentals of figure skating, school figures, disappeared. To set the record straight, I was never consulted nor do I agree with that decision. I could have never skated as freely and safely as I did without the skills and language on refined edges that I learned through school figures, ice dance and Slavka Kohout’s other ingenious methods. Whispering edges in swift motion are hidden within quiet edges and turns on full circles.

Credentials built upon thousands of hours on ice and in arenas around the world may not qualify one to be figured into today’s figure skating and its rules however nature’s laws of motion for skating on ice likely have not changed.

If the discussion is about figure skating, let the ripping or whispering edge discussions begin.

Janet Lynn                                             

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This entry was posted on April 30, 2014 by .
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