1996 USFSA Governing Council:
Actions Taken


The 1996 USFSA Governing Council was held in Colorado Springs, CO. 1996 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the USFSA. We provide here a summary of the main actions taken by the Governing Council. Unless otherwise noted, rules become effective on 1 September 1996. USFSA rules may also be revised following the ISU Congress in June, to keep them consistent with ISU regulation (e.g., the requirements of the short programs). Actions taken at the ISU Congress will be reported on following the Congress.

Actions Taken is broken down into three sections; Bylaws changes, Rules Changes, and other Executive Committee actions. Bylaws changes deal with the operation of the Association. Rules changes deal with the operation of the associations, the rules of skating, and all aspects of running competitions. Executive Committee actions deal with other miscellaneous policy decisions.


Rejected: A proposal to change the date used to determine how many delegates clubs get to send to Governing Council to January 1 of each year. Currently that date is (and remains) June 30 of each year. This was a fairly contentious issue since it strongly affects how members are represented at Governing Council. An insightful compromise proposal to use September 30 probably would have passed, but could not be voted upon for procedural reasons.

Rejected: A proposal to require the President and Secretary to sign all contracts only when directed by the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, or Governing Council. This proposal was opposed by the Board of Directors arguing that it would tie the hands of management in negotiations, and would be inefficient in dealing with the many minor contracts involved in the operation of the association. Supporters argued for the need for accountability and control over the direction of the association.

Rejected: Two proposals to limit the appointment of members of the Nominating Committee to other Association committees. The intention of these two proposals was to reign in the "musical chairs" approach to filling offices in the Association, and to remove potential conflicts of interest in the operation of the Nominating Committee.

Passed: A proposal to increase the size of the Nominating Committee to 12 members by adding three athletes to the committee. Previously the Nominating Committee did not include athlete members.

Passed: A proposal to simplify the description of responsibility of the Program Development Committee.

Rejected: A proposal to give the President of the Association authority to appoint members of the Finance Committee, as is the case for all other committees. This was proposed because the bylaws do not say who is supposed to appoint Finance Committee members. Members of the Finance Committee will continue to be appointed by the Treasurer, as has traditionally been the practice.

Passed: A proposal to make all rules changes effective on September 1, unless otherwise specified. Formerly, rules changes became effective on October 1, after the close of entries for Regionals (September 15). This will insure there is no confusion over which rules are in effect at the time entries are due for qualifying competitions.

Passed: A proposal to increase the dues structure for member clubs.

Passed: An extensive revision of the grievance and disciplinary bylaws. See comments below under changes to the grievance procedure rules.


Athletes Advisory Committee

The following were passed:

A sub-committee of the Competition Committee was created to review and recommend policies for the operation of the National Championships, such as scheduling and credentialing. This rule was motivated by the widespread dissatisfaction among the athletes and coaches over the way scheduling and credentialing was handled at the 1995 nationals. This sub-committee is to consist of athletes, coaches, referees, and "other relevant constituencies". It was expected that an attempt would be made to remove the latter phrase because it could be interpreted to include agents; however, that objection was never raised and the wording was retained. [Note: you can expect there will be ice skating competitions in Hell before a USFSA President appoints an agent to a USFSA committee.]

Byes to Nationals will now be limited to the most recent World or Olympic Medalists instead of all former World or Olympic medalists. This change would, for example, prevent Nicole Bobek from getting a bye to 1997 Nationals.

The bye rule for qualifying competitions was revised. Skaters seeking a bye to Sectionals must demonstrate they have a reasonable chance of placing in the top four in Sectionals. Skaters seeking a bye to Nationals must demonstrate they could have placed in the top four in Sectionals had they competed there.

Coaches Committee

The following was passed:

A provisional recommendation was made that the PSA certification program be designated as the official USFSA coaching program, contingent on the report of a task force dealing with the subject, and with a final recommendation to be made in one year. This proposal, and other coaching issues which surfaced at the meeting, will be discussed in detail in a related article.

Competition Committee

The following were passed:

Figures in qualifying and non-qualifying competitions are to be skated in the same order, as listed in CR 35.10.

Ladies and men will now be permitted to compete against each other in moves in the field, and in figures at non-qualifying competitions.

In order to qualify for Junior Olympics, all skaters in Sectional Intermediate events must compete at Sectionals, regardless of the size of the event.

All alien skaters who have skated in USFSA competitions and then left to skate for a foreign federation are required to reapply for permission to compete in USFSA competitions under the then current rules, should they choose to return to USFSA competitions.

Test requirements to compete in dance events were revised.
Juvenile Dance: At least the Preliminary Dance Test, no maximum requirement
Intermediate Dance: At least the Bronze dances and the Preliminary Free Dance, no maximum requirement
Novice Dance: At least 1 Silver dance and the Bronze Free Dance, cannot have passed the Silver Free Dance
Junior Dance: At least 2 pre-Gold Dances and the Silver Free Dance, cannot have passed the Gold Free Dance

To compete in dance in qualifying competitions skaters must have passed the moves in the fields test for the equivalent level (e.g., for Intermediate dance, the Intermediate MITF test).

All age restrictions for Junior Dance removed (Junior Dance reverts to a single event).

All age restrictions for Novice Dance removed (Novice Dance reverts to a single event).

Entries for qualifying competitions shall be September 15. When September 15 fall on a Sunday or a legal holiday, entries are due the next business day.

To skate on a Collegiate synchronized skating skaters must be full time students enrolled in a degree program at a college or university. The former requirement that they be U.S. Citizens was eliminated.

A Collegiate Introductory division was added to synchronized skating skating.

Foreign skaters may comprise no more than 25% of a synchronized skating as long as they do not represent another ISU member (country), and they may compete during qualifying competitions.

For International Competitions, foreign skaters who qualify under ISU rules may compete for the U.S. as long as they meet all other USFSA rules.

synchronized skatings must compete at Sectionals or Regionals even when there or four or less teams entered in an event.

In adult skating, Masters Free Skating and Adult Gold Free Skating events will be held at Regionals and Sectionals. Adult Silver Free Skating and Adult Bronze Free Skating will be held at the discretion of the local organizing committees.

Test requirements and program requirements were revised for the adult competitive events for singles and for dance.

The following were rejected:

A proposal to allow skaters in Juvenile events at Regionals with 2 or fewer entrants to proceed directly to Junior Olympics without competing at Regionals. A proposal to increase the maximum age of skaters on Novice synchronized skatings. This proposal was sent back to committee for further study.

A proposal to increase the factor for the intermediate short program to 0.5

The following was referred to committee:

Two proposals to revise the age restriction for Juvenile events (singles, pairs, and dance).

Dance Committee

The following were passed:

Junior Internationals and Senior International Dance test were added to the test structure, effective June 1996.

The moves in the fields test were added as a separate test structure for dancers. MITF test requirements were added to compete in qualifying competitions, beginning in the 1997/98 season. Current dancers will be "grandfathered" based on the dance tests they have already passed.

A Solo Dance Test structure was added. The first mark will be for accuracy, placement, and style. The second mark will be for timing and expression.

Finance Commitee

The following were passed:

A procedure was established to determine the situations under which expenditures in excess of the budgeted amounts would be authorized.

It was decided in principle to form a foundation to hold and manage the assets of the USFSA. The details of how this foundation would operate will be investigated in the coming year. The main purpose for establishing this foundation is to protect the assets of the USFSA from legal attack in a litigation crazy world.

Grievance Committee

The grievance rules were extensively revised. These revisions were based on the experience gained over the past year with the rules that were first established last year. While probably necessary, one can't still help but feel when reading these that there are too many lawyers in the Association with too much time on their hands.

The Grievance/Ethics Review Committee was directed to review the rules to develop procedures that deal with grievances related to the Association's code of ethics.

International Committee

The rules of the International Committee were completely rewritten, yet again. These rules spell out the nitty-gritty of how athletes are selected for International competitions, including Worlds and the Olympics. Space does not allow a detailed descriptions of the rules but two fundamental points should be noted. First, selection of athletes will now be made by a select group of officials instead of the full committee. In principle four people could end up deciding who competes in singles, pairs, and dance, and three in precision skating. Second, the official be-all and end-all of the international committee (and the USFSA as well) is the winning of the greatest number of medals possible. While this has long been the trend, the body count is now officially incorporated into the rules.

ISU Issues

The USFSA representatives were directed and authorized to use their discretion at the upcoming ISU congress to vote "in the best interest of the USFSA" (an interesting turn of phrase if you think about it) in all matters except for the following. They were directed to vote against a group of proposals designed to expand the ability of the ISU to intrude into the financial arrangements of the Champions Series, and other USFSA activities; to vote against all proposals relating to changing the scoring system; and to vote for a proposal requiring that all out of competition drug testing be conducted through the member NGB in accordance with the laws of the member country. The proposals to be considered at the ISU congress will be discussed in more detail in another article.

Judges Committee

The following were passed:

Junior and Senior Dance competition judges will be authorized to judge the Junior and Senior International Dance Tests.

Dance Judges will be certified to judge MITF tests.

Dance Judges will be certified to judge the new solo dance tests. All levels of solo dance test may be judged by a single judge panel.

Each judge, referee, accountant, music coordinator, announcer, and other officials assigned to the 1997 Nationals will receive a fixed stipend of $500.

The advancement sequence for precision judges was revised.

Precision judges will be required to obtain a low singles/pairs or bronze dance appointment.

To be eligible to trial judge, an ineligible person must have submitted an application for reinstatement.

The authority to judge Novice Pair Tests was restored to Intermediate Test judges (it was removed 3 years ago when Intermediate Test judges also lost the authority to judge the Fifth Figure Test.

Membership Committee

The following was passed:

Club bylaws on file at USFSA headquarters shall be those used in resolving grievances.

Clubs must report the election of officers to USFSA headquarters within 30 days of their election.

Rules regarding grievances between clubs were extensively revised. (We can all thank T.H. for the plethora of new grievance bylaws, rules, procedures, etc.)

The following was rejected:

Two rules changing the membership requirements for schools, colleges, and universities.

Precision Skating Committee

The following were passed:

Precision competition "consolation round" will now be referred to as the "silver round".

Intersections incorporating back spirals or stepping/jumping over hand clasped outstretched arms are now prohibited.

Jumping or stepping over clasped hands or outstretched arms in now prohibited in the short program.

The precision committee chairman indicated the committee is thinking about setting up a precision skating test structure.

Program Development Committee

These rules were rewritten to provide a simple, generic statement of the committee's responsibilities.

Rules Committee

The following were passed:

Factors will be removed from the diagrams of figures in the rulebook. The use of factors in scoring figures was abandoned many, many years ago.

Proposed bylaws changes must be in the hands of the Rules Committee no later than February 15.

Proposed rules changes must be in the hands of the Rules Committee no later than March 1 (for the spring Board meeting) and August 15 (for the fall Board meeting).

The Rules Committee Chair also indicated the committee is embarking on a project to completely edit the rulebook, a task sorely needed for many years.

Sanctions Commitee

The following were passed:

Skaters who knowingly take part in an unsanctioned event or contract are subject to disciplinary action by the Chair of the Sanctions and Eligibility Committee. This action may include loss of eligibility.

The sanction fees that previously applied to events produced by a promoter no longer apply. Fees will now be negotiated between USFSA headquarters and promoters. Under the previous rules, fees paid by commercial promoters were no different from the fees paid by non-profit promoters, and were negligible compared to the financial magnitude of their events.

Singles and Pairs Committee

The following were passed:

The Judges Committee guidelines currently used by the judges to mark tests have been explicitly added to the rules. To compete in pairs, both skaters must now have passed the MITF test corresponding to their pairs test level (e.g, novice pairs must have passed the novice MITF test). Current pairs skaters will be "grandfathered" at their current pairs test level.

The rule on reskates was revised to include pair tests.

The layback spin for ladies and the cross-foot spin for men were removed from the requirements for the Pre-Juvenile Free Skating Test.

The half jump requirement in the Juvenile Free Skating Test was replaced with a forward camel spin for men and layback or attitude spin for ladies.

In the Novice Free Skating Test, the axel, and single with double jump combination requirements were eliminated.

Requirements for the Junior Free Skating Test revised to include:
at least three different double jumps (one must be a double flip)
one jump combinations consisting of two different double jumps
one jump sequence consisting of small jumps followed by a double jump
flying sit or flying change sit spin
layback or crossfoot spin
spin combination with one change of foot and three positions

Requirements for the Senior Free Skating Test revised to include:
at least four different double or triple jumps (one must be a double Lutz)
two jump combinations consisting of two double jumps, or a double with triple jump
one jump sequence consisting of small jumps followed by a double jump
at least four spins
one must be a flying spin
one must be a spin combination with one change of foot and two positions

Short program for Novice Pairs to include a double loop in 1997, a double flip for 1998; a forward inside death spiral for 1997, backward inside death spiral for 1998.

Short program for Novice Ladies to include a single or double axel; combination jump to consist of a double with double or double with triple.

The currently used guidelines for moves in the fields were explicitly added to the rules. These include basic skating rules and standards and criteria for marking.

Rules changes dealing with skating standards and marking of tests become effective 1 July 1996.

The Juvenile Pair Test will now be judges with a 3.0 passing requirement, instead of on a pass/retry basis.

The following were rejected:

A proposal to change the sequence in which MITF tests and free skating tests might be taken.

A proposal to revert to "recommended" standards for judging tests.

A proposal to add a short program to Intermediate Pairs.

Considered under new business:

Passed: A competition rule to reduce the number of figure events held at qualifying competitions, effective with the 1998/99 season. Figure events will be held in the future, as follows. At Regionals: Juvenile figures and below, with all events below Juvenile held at the discretion of the local organizing committee. At Sectionals: Intermediate figures only. At Junior Olympics; Juvenile and Intermediate figures. At Nationals; Novice, Junior, and Senior figures.

Passed: A competition rule specifying that synchronized skatings do not have to commit to skate at Precision Nationals until after they skate at Sectionals.

Passed: A competition rule specifying that starting order groups for closed draws (instead of the detailed starting order) will be posted before the first practice, and at least 12 hours before the start of an event.

Rejected: A proposal to allow prize money at non-qualifying competitions for one year as a pilot program.

Referred to Competition Committee A proposal to draft a rule prohibiting the awarding of prize money at USFSA non-qualifying competitions.

Referred to Executive Committee A proposal to undertake a study of the realignment of the geographic boundaries of the Regions and Sections.

Passed: A judges rule permitting CFSA judges to single panel USFSA tests for the levels they are qualified, up to the bronze solo dance tests, effective immediately following the close of the meeting.

Passed: A clarification of the rules governing voting by athlete members of committees, specifying that athlete voting membership shall be not less than 20% of the total voting membership (not 20% of total votes cast).

Passed: A proposal to direct the Executive Director to negotiate an increase in the number of rinks participating in a USOC/USFSA program regarding ice time for elite athletes.

Passed: A proposal to begin future Governing Council meetings 2 1/2 hours earlier than has traditionally been scheduled.

Passed: A proposal to require the reports of action be made available at least 2 hours before the start of the Governing Council meetings, effective with the 1997 meeting.

Rejected: A proposal to have assigned seating for delegates at future Governing Council meetings.

Rejected: A proposal to make more restrictive the conditions under which association money could be spent on non-budgeted "emergency" programs.

The issue of the financial and political wisdom of bidding for the 1998 ISU Congress (as is being planned) was raised, but not voted upon.

In a highly unusual move, near the close of the meeting when the actions of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors are ratified by the Governing Council, three clubs formally added to the records of the meeting a protest of the actions of the Executive Committee during the past year - essentially a statement of no confidence in the Executive Committee.

Other actions taken by the Executive Committee

It was decided to "resolve the situation with the Washington Post through informal discussions." This refers to the recent decision made by the USFSA to deny reporter Christine Brennan, of the Washington Post, credentials at future USFSA events - as has been reported in the Post, and USA Today. According to sources, a face saving resolution of the resulting controversy is being sought by the USFSA.

Contract signature authority was given to the Executive Director for all contracts, including all subcontracts under licensing agreements, except those relating to the National Championships, television and sponsorship, and the Champions Series.

Approval was given to switch Skating Magazine back to a 10 month per year schedule, and to eliminate use of the newsletter format. Skating Magazine will be published monthly from October through May, and bimonthly in June/July and August/September.

The Executive Committee decided that the rules did not prohibit the 1996 Mid-Atlantics competition from awarding prize money, which was The Skating Club of New York's intention in this year's competition. This took the meeting by surprise, and was the most controversial subject of the meeting. A proposal to sustain the Executive Committee decision and to establish a one year pilot program was rejected by the Governing Council. A proposal to explicitly prohibit prize money was referred to committee. These contradictory actions left the issue of prize money in limbo. It was, however, the sense of the meeting that prize money should not be allowed.

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