The Art of Figures

I’m a huge fan of figures, though I don’t have as much time to practice them as I used to. I’m sad that they are no longer used for testing purposes. It also is very evident that I’m not the only one that feels this way. So I created this spot on the web for links, videos, info, and other information about the art of figures. Please contact me if you have a link that you want to see included here.


YouTube page to many figures videos
John Curry’s “After All”
Schuba vs. Lynn: 1972 Sapporo Olympics
Debbie Minter doing a special figure in 2008
1976 Olympics: Ladies Figures

1. Facebook Group: Memories of Patch
2. JoAnn’s blog
Dick Button doing figures
4. Karen Courtland Kelly has a DVD of all the figures at her website.
5. Here is a PDF from the USFS rulebook (2007 edition, I think) with all the figure diagrams, tests, and rules.
6. Book: A handbook of figure skating arranged for use on the ice By George Henry Browne, 1900.
7. Book: The art of skating: its history and development, with practical directions By Irving Brokaw, 1910.
8. Book: A System of Figure Skating, by Vandervell and Witham, 1869.
9. Jaya Kanal’s Blog: It Figures

There is still equipment out there. The best boots for figures are an old, broken down pair of freestyle boots. So don’t sell or give away those boots! Scribes can be found on ebay, and occasionally in some of the older skate shops. Figure blades are still stocked by some of the old skate shops around the country who couldn’t give themselves to throw them away, so call a few of them and ask is they still have figure blades. You can also buy freestyle blades and have the bottom toepicks shaved off, and have the edges sharpened for figures.

But ahhhh, the sharpening. That will be tricky, Finding the old guys who know how to sharpen figure blades properly is a tough find. Ask some of the older coaches and skaters who they recommend. It is a very different sharpening from a freestyle blade.

Ask your rink. Many rinks won’t mind letting you do patch on emptier sessions as long as the other skaters don’t mind. Many times the coaches who are teaching young kids like having patch skaters around to show the kids how it used to be done! Sometimes you’ll have to do very early sessions, like 5 am.

Some rinks still offer patch classes. Here are a few I know of, and I hope to see this list grow:

1) Oakland Ice Center, Oakland, CA
Tuesdays at 5:15 PM for younger skaters (pre preliminary and up)
or 5:45 PM for Adult skaters (Intermediate level and up)

2) Ice Chalet, Walla Walla, WA
213 South First Street, Walla Walla, WA, 99362, (509) 525-2575
Tuesdays at 3:30 PM: School Figures Class

3) Lake Placid Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY
Their annual Adult Week each summer has a patch class.

4) Culver City Ice Arena, Culver City, CA
Culver City offers a Patch session Monday through Friday from 7:45-8:30 AM. The Session is now a Patch and MITF Session. They divide the ice into two pieces the size depends on how many people show up to do Patch.

5) Philadelphia Skating Club & Humane Society, Ardmore, PA
PSC&HS offers Patch five days a week in the mornings. Check the schedule on their site for specific times.

6) The Robert Crown Center, Evanston, IL
Robert Crown is offering a Patch class twice a week for summer of 2011 on their studio rink! Wednesday and Friday morning practice from 6:00 to 7:00 am, with class on Thursdays at 11:15 to 11:45 am from June 9 to August 11, 2011. Here’s the link to the website with class information and the wiki with patch times.

7) Pineville Ice House, Pineville, NC
There’s a Saturday morning Figure 8s class from 6:00 to 6:45 am. Download their brochure to see the schedule.

Ready to test figures? Terrific! Sadly, test sessions for figures are hard to come by. Just ask your test chair when you are ready for a test to please arrange it for you. Many judges are thrilled to have an opportunity to judge a figures test, so have your test chair ask. Additionally, the figures competition mentioned earlier in Portland, Oregon, has a test session after the event, and Lake Placid has been known to still have them on occasion.