In the USFSA competition structure for eligible (amateur) skaters, there are 2 categories of competition. Most of the competitions that you will enter throughout the year are called "non-qualifying" or "local" competitions. "Qualifying" competitions include Regionals and Sectionals which are considered to be the qualifying events or "elimination rounds" preliminary to US National competition.
The local competition is the mainstay of amateur figure skating competitions. Every year, hundreds of non-qualifying competitions are held at USFSA-affiliated clubs throughout the nation. These competitions are created, planned, and implemented solely through the work of the club members in the sponsoring clubs. These events do not lead directly to any National or World competition, but do provide skaters the opportunity for experience in the competitive environment, the chance to earn medals and ribbons, and the opportunity to preview the work of skaters in other clubs.
Local competitions are judged by USFSA appointed judges, using the same standards as they would for Qualifying competitions. Local competitions, however, have the opportunity to "make their own rules" when they see fit, and create unique new events, or variations of standard events. They may relax qualification rules if desired to permit skaters the opportunity for growth experiences. For all local competitions, the Club's Competition Announcement should be considered the "rulebook" for the competition.
Oftentimes, age restrictions will be relaxed in local competitions. Frequently, skaters will be permitted to skate "one level up" from their current test level (for instance, this means that a Juvenile skater would be permitted to skate in an Intermediate event). And most frequently, events will be available which are not part of the standard rulebook (see Typical Competition Events for some examples).
Qualifying Competition is the broad label which refers to all those competitions which lead to US National and World competitions. These competitions start at the Regional level. Successful competitors from Regional competition advance to Sectional level competition, and then to US Nationals or Junior Olympic competition (see the page on Competitive Qualification Requirements for details on who may advance from each level).
Qualifying competitions follow the Rulebook format for events and all age and test-level qualification. See Qualifying Competition Progression for a graphic depicting the relationship of these competitions)
There are 9 Regions in the US, each of which holds an annual Regional competition (see the page on Regions & Sections for information on the geographic areas covered by each region). The location for the Regional competition within each region is established by the USFSA each year on the basis of applications by potential sponsoring clubs, and is usually known about a year in advance. Regional competitions are generally held in early October.
According to the Rulebook, Regionals competition will hold events at levels ranging from Juvenile to Senior. Organizers are permitted to hold additional events if time permits however and often PreJuvenile and other non-qualifying events will be included.
There is no requirement other than test level (and, for some levels, age) for entering into Regional competition. Any eligible USFSA skater of the appropriate test level may enter his or her region's Regional Competition.
If you choose to enter, you will find that the Application form will probably be the longest one you have ever filled out. You may be required to furnish proof of age (birth certificate) and test level.
You will probably be requested to provide a black-and-white photo. Be aware also, that those competitors who place well enough to qualify for advancement to Sectionals will probably be expected to sign up and pay on-the-spot.
There are 3 Sections in the US, each of which holds an annual Sectional competition (see the page on Regions & Sections for information on the geographic areas covered by each section). The location for the Sectional competition within each section is established by the USFSA each year on the basis of applications by potential sponsoring clubs, and is usually known about a year in advance.
Sectional Competition is the second rung on the road to Nationals; skaters qualify to skate in Sectionals based upon performance at Regionals.
Sectional competitions are generally held in late November or early December.
US Nationals is held annually in a city whose location is established by the USFSA each year on the basis of applications by potential sponsoring clubs. The location is generally known about 2-3 years in advance.
US Nationals holds events for Juvenile, Intermediat, Novice, Junior, and Senior level skaters.
The US Adult Figure Skating Championships is the National level competition for adult (age 21 and over) skaters. At present, there is no requirement for Regional or Sectional qualification to enter the US Adult Nationals at most levels, although some higher-level events do require qualification.
Each August at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, college students gather for a skating competition called the "National Collegiate Championships". This competition is open to all USFSA members who are enrolled in a college degree program. Junior and Senior level events are offered in singles Freeskating, Pairs, Dance, and Figures. No Regional or Sectional qualification is required for entry to this competition. Note that the element requirements are slightly relaxed for the singles short program (see CR 83.00 or each year's competition announcement for details).
To qualify as a college student for this competition, singles skaters must be enrolled full-time in a college or university degree program, or have graduated from such a program the previous academic year, or be currently admitted for the coming academic year. Pairs skaters must meet the same criteria, except that "half-time" enrollment is acceptable.
An annual event for skaters who have placed well in Artistic Showcase, and Interpretive events in local non-qualifying competitions.
To help provide for recognition of skaters as athletes within their schools, the USFSA has recently begun promoting the development of High School competition series. Several states now have very active high school skating programs. Skaters from both USFSA and ISI clubs are now permitted to skate as representatives of their schools in these competitions. Generally, the competitions include “team events” with compulsory elements skated by various team members as well as individual events in which the skaters accumulate points for their teams. Many skaters find that the team spirit and fellowship fostered by these competitions is very fun and rewarding. Many schools reward skaters with varsity status in recognition of their participation.
Similarly, there is a growing movement towards collegiate skating programs. There are currently more than 25 colleges in the US which support active skating clubs; many of these have elevated the sport to varsity status within the school.
Basic Skills competitions are frequently held at clubs throughout the country. These competitions enjoy a relaxed rules structure. These competitions hold events at various levels, equivalent to those specified in the Basic Skills training curriculum
Many US States now hold "State Games" competitions. These are often multi-sport competitions that are open to all residents of the State. Typically at these competitions, figure skaters from both USFSA and ISI are encouraged to compete. Each year a national-level "State Games of America" competition is offered to skaters who have qualified based on their performance at their own state's State Games competition.