By Liz Leamy
American figure skating has been and continues to remain a dominant worldwide force largely due to the Herculean efforts of the Professional Skaters Association, the Rochester, Minnesota-based organization that supplies coaches with many kinds of on and off-ice educational resources.
The PSA, which has more than 6,500 members who reside throughout the U.S. and around the world, has made a concerted effort in the past few decades to work in tandem with top officials from U.S. Figure Skating in order to insure that coaches, officials and skaters are all on the same page in regard to rules, standards, expectations and overall education.
According to officials, this partnership has been critical to the success and growth of American figure skating over the past few decades.
"I’ve always felt U.S. Figure Skating and the PSA should work closely together, and I love seeing it happen," said John LeFevre, former U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director and Broadmoor Skating Club president.
Premier U.S. coaches agree that this venture has been lucrative, particularly at the world level.
Frank Carroll after david kirby and janet champion's spin seminar
Most coaches know that camaraderie is the key to success in this sport, which is why this past May, so many chose to attend the 2010 PSA conference and trade show exhibition in Colorado Springs, Colorado,
On Memorial Day weekend, more than 535 coaches from all over the U.S. and from around the world showed up at this event, the only known formal skating educational series of its kind to exist in the sport today, in order to be educated on the most current information and trends regarding figure skating."Teamwork has made the dream work," said Kelley Morris-Adair, outgoing PSA president. "The relationship we’ve had with U.S. Figure Skating and the Ice Skating Institute exemplify the spirit of cooperation."
Although attendance at this event might appear to represent a small percentage of the total PSA membership, the overall turnout was considered to be very good and consistent, if not slightly higher compared to that of prior years.
U.S. Figure Skating officials thanked coaches for making the trip to Colorado Springs.
Jamie Lynn Santee of the PSA and Patricia St. Peter, U.S. Figure Skating president
"U.S. Figure Skating has many successes to celebrate this past year and everybody in this room has had a role to play," said Patricia St. Peter, president of U.S. Figure Skating. "We are all in this together and they key to these successes has been communication, collaboration, coordination and commitment."
Throughout the weekend, the enthusiasm and commitment of these coaches, who were from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and Australia, was apparent and with good reason.
"You get a boost, something you need in your teaching," said Joann Schneider-Farris, a former national dance contender and coach who is based in Colorado Springs.
The speakers also saw the enthusiasm of the crowd at this event.
"I looked out at all the coaches in front of me and just saw so much energy and desire among these people to do their job really well," said Judy Blumberg, the three-time U.S. World ice dance bronze medallist and New York City-based coach who spoke on the International Judging System.
This year, more than 75 offered seminars were offered on such subjects as the International Judging System, revised U.S. Figure Skating field moves; jumps, spins, edges and footwork for singles, pairs, dance and synchronized skating; biomechanics; periodization (a systematic and planned training method); off-ice training; Continuing Education Requirement tests; learn-to-skate programs and sports psychology.
"We’ve dedicated so much to the continuing education of coaches," said Carol Rossignol, PSA Director of Education and Accreditation. "We try to reach everybody."
Newly elected PSA president David Kirby with Tammy Gambill, California-based national and international coach
Aside from all the seminars, this conference gave ‘regular’ coaches an opportunity to rub elbows alongside the of the most prominent teaching luminaries in the business, including Frank Carroll, John Nicks, who coached 1979 World titlists Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner; and Tom Zakrajsek, whose charges include Rachael Flatt, the reigning U.S. ladies champion and Brandon Mroz, the 2009 U.S. men’s silver medallist.
Ultimately however, the primary purpose for any coach who showed up at this conference was to learn and hopefully improve their work so they provide first-class service for their clients and help raise the overall skating standard.
"The parents are paying a lot of money, so you want to make sure you do a good job," said Chrisha Gossard, a former U.S. national contender who coaches in Bangkok, Thailand. "The seminars are so informative and being here is inspirational."PSA organizers and executives agreed. "Coaches leave here inspired and refreshed," said Jimmie Santee, PSA Executive Director. "That is everything."
Return to title page