1998 Governing Council Meeting

May 8-9, 1998

Spokane, Washington


After last year's raucous meeting, and with several unresolved issues held over from then, it looked like this year's meeting would be similarly entertaining, but such was not the case.  Beyond the issue of stipends for judges and officials at competitions, the work at hand played out in an orderly business-like fashion.


Last year the hot button issue was the question of compliance with federal law and USOC requirements in the area of athlete representation in the Association (specifically at Governing Council meetings) and the definition of an athlete.  The subject was so badly presented that tempers flared with nothing accomplished, and with delegate  leaving the meeting still unsure whether the 1978 Amateur Sports Act and the USOC really did require a 20% athlete representation at Governing Council, as was argued by the athletes in the failed attempt to revise the bylaws in 1997.  At the end of the 1997 meeting the compliance task force was asked to revisit the issue, and specifically were requested to determine exactly if the USFSA was in compliance with requirements or not - homework that should have been done prior to the 1997 meeting..

The task force came to the 1998 meeting better prepared, and presented the results of their work in an effective, low-key manner.  Unlike most bylaw revisions, the history of the task force's work was clearly explained in the meeting book as was the thinking of the task force in coming to its recommendations.  The athletes stayed in the background, not making a major political issue of  the subject at the meeting, and after a brief explanation to the delegates, the task force's recommendations sailed through easily.

In the year since the 1997 meeting, the task force concluded that USFSA bylaws were in compliance with the Sports Act and USOC requirements, and that no changes to the structure of Governing Council meeting representation were  required.  On the question of the definition of an athlete for the purposes of governance of the Association, the task force decided that the definition in the bylaws should be tightened up and expanded to include a larger pool of individuals.  Several changes to the bylaws were approved nearly unanimously to implement the new definition of an athlete.

The new bylaw defines an athlete as any individual who is a member of the association, meets the requirements of the 1978 Amateur Sports Act, and meets any of the following criteria:

While considering the bylaw revisions in 1997, the issue of whether the USFSA was in compliance with Colorado corporation law was also raised.  (The USFSA is incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the state of Colorado, which revised its non-profit corporation law effective July of 1998).  A task force was established to investigate this issue and to determine what changes were required to the Association bylaws.

The task force came back with 21 proposed revisions to the bylaws.   Some of these were required by changes in Colorado law, others were housekeeping from previous bylaw revisions or minor editorial changes.  Nevertheless, such a lengthy proposal is the kind of business that frequently throws the delegates into a tizzy and makes for the occasional grand theatrics and confusion.   But the task force did a great job in presenting its work.  Everything was laid out clearly and logically in a step-by-step manner, with the whole package passing easily.

The term of the Association president was extended to a maximum of four consecutive one year terms, to bring the terms of USFSA presidents in time synch with the Winter Olympic cycle.  The new Association president, James Disbrow, is no eligible to serve through the 2002 Winter Olympics.  In reality, the rules always permitted terms of longer than three years, but required a 2/3 vote for election in that fourth year.  The provision of that 2/3 vote for the fourth year is what was actually removed from the rules.

The annual tussle over who must sign Association contracts and agreements also fizzled out this year.  A change clarifying that the secretary and president shall sign contracts and agreements if so directed by the Governing Council, Board of Directors, or Executive Committee passed, but the remainder were withdrawn or failed.  Thus, regardless of what the bylaws require, the Executive Director remains the person who actually signs contracts and agreements, with the president and secretary signing few if any documents.

A proposal to give back to the clubs the right they previously possessed, to get proposed rules changes added to the Governing Council meeting agenda, failed.

The Athlete Development Committee (formerly the Athlete Development Subcommittee of the International Committee) was made a permanent non-voting committee and rules for the jurisdiction of the committee were passed.

The Parents Committee was made a permanent non-voting committee.

The Therapeutic Skating Subcommittee was moved from the Sports Medicine Committee to the Special Olympics Committee.


Club Membership

Normally admitting member clubs is a routine piece of business, but occasional bizarre things happen and such was the case this year.  Some delegates objected to advancing three particular clubs from Interim Probationary Membership to Probationary Membership because they are involved in a grievance against the USFSA Membership Committee.  This brought speakers a string of stern rebukes from Association president, Morry Stillwell, who would not allow the "g" word to be mentioned or discussed since the identity of parties to grievances is supposed to be confidential.   After a few tense moments all the proposed clubs were advanced in membership.



The more significant rules changes are listed below, by committee.   Rules that primarily deal with beaurocracy are not summarized here. 


When one partner of a pair or dance team competes outside of their home region/section and also wishes to compete in a singles event, they may choose to enter the singles event within that non-home club region/section.

A judge, referee, or accountant assigned to a National, Sectional, or Regional Championship may not compete in any event of said championship except for the non-qualifying Adult events.

Open Intermediate events are open only to teams where at least one of the partners has reached the age of 15 years, and neither partner is 18 years of age or older.

Open Juvenile events are open only to teams where at least one of the partners has reached the age of 13 years, and neither partner is 16 years of age or older.

Competitors who withdraw from a regional or sectional competition and wish to request a medical bye to compete at the next higher level of competition must file a letter of intent with the Chief Referee.  This can occur no earlier than 21 days before the start of the competition and no more than one day after.

Resident aliens must provide proof they have resided in the U.S. for at least one year prior to the deadline of entries for the regional competition they wish to enter.

All non-U.S. citizens must pass the necessary tests as established by the Chair of the Competitions Committee for the level they wish to compete at before the deadline of entries for the regional competition they wish to enter.

An adult competitor may enter only one event per discipline regardless of their eligibility as determined by test requirements.

Compulsory dances will be listed in the rulebook in the order of their competition as listed in the ISU Regulations for Senior, Junior, and Novice dance events.  This will eliminate the draw for compulsory dance order for those events.

The Novice dance event at Nationals will consist of two compulsory dances and a free dance.  Each compulsory dance will count 25% and the free dance 50% towards the final score.

Beginning with the 1998/99 season Intermediate and Open Intermediate dance will include a 2 minute duration free dance in the final round.  One lift will be permitted in this free dance.

Beginning with the 1998/99 season Juvenile and Open Juvenile dance will include an original set pattern dance in the final round.  Three compulsory dances will be skated in the initial round.

When more than 162 competitors enter an event a second level of qualifying rounds will be skated.  Group numbers and sizes were established for events with 163 through 252 skaters.

For the Senior events at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the final two warm-up groups will always consist of 6 skaters in singles, 4 teams in pairs, and 5 couples in dance.

The requirements of having passed no higher than the Adult Silver Free Skating test was added tot the test requirements for the Adult Silver Free Skating event. 

The requirements of having passed no higher than the Adult Bronze Free Skating test was added tot the test requirements for the Adult Bronze Free Skating event.

A proposal to award monetary stipends to judges, officials, trial judges, accountant trainees, music trainees, JETS, accountant trainers, and music trainers failed.  This was the most controversial subject of the meeting, with many impassioned speeches on both sides of the issue.  The vote rejecting stipends was basically a vote in favor of retaining the volunteer nature of the Association.  A task force to further study the issue of stipends was established.


When a judge decides to begin teaching skating they must so inform the Chair of the Judges Committee in writing.

Candidates must apply in writing for reinstatement as a National Judge.  The Chair of the Judges Committee will require the individual to pass the annual Judges' Exam, attend a judges' school and trial judge satisfactorily at the national level one time.   For all other judging levels, the Chair of the Judges Committee, the Chair of the JETS Committee and the sectional vice chair will have the authority to reinstate an individual at their pre-coaching level or at one lower, depending on the situation.


Persons desiring to change home club or to Individual Member status must now first secure the signatures from two club officers from their current club, which declares that the departing member has satisfied all financial obligations to that club.  The signatures must be included on the Change of Home Club form or annual Member Registration form submitted to USFSA Headquarters.  The purpose of this rule is to impede club members from abandoning a club to which they owe unpaid financial obligations.  A fair bit of discussion was generated by this rule, the fear being that clubs will use the signatures provision to hold their club members hostage to prevent them from switching clubs, even when there are no financial obligations involved.

Precision Skating

The Adult Masters division will now be called the Masters division.

The Open Adult division will now be called the Adult division.

Advancement to the silver round shall be per the requirements of CR 63.00.

When 12 or fewer teams are entered in the Collegiate division in all three sections combined, all teams may progress directly to the U.S. Precision Skating Championships.

A new Junior Classic division was created.  Teams will consist of 12 to 20 skaters, 75% of whom must be 18 years of age or younger on the preceding July 1.   The remaining 25% may be 19 years of age or older.  This division will perform a free skating program at sectionals only and would not progress to the U.S. Precision Skating Championships.  The free skating program will be 4 minutes in duration.  Vocal music with lyrics is not permitted.

For Junior Classic teams two holds must be included in a well balanced precision program.

An Intermediate Classic division approved for creation at the October 1997 meeting of the Board of Directors was eliminated. 

Skaters competing in the Intermediate division may not cross over into the Novice, Junior or Senior divisions.

Skaters competing in the Junior Classic division may not cross over into the Junior or Senior divisions.

Sanctions and Eligibility

Eligible skaters may make a personal appearance, participate in a skating performance or permit their name or photograph to advertise any commercial product, service or enterprise only by entering into a Skater Sponsorship Agreement.

Singles and Pairs

Intermediate pairs may not include more than three lifts in their free skating program, selected from a specific list of lifts.  One of the lifts may be a single twist lift, and one may be an overhead.  The list of permitted lifts consists of the armpit hold, waist hold and hand-to-hand position lifts.  The three lifts specified in the intermediate pairs test must also be taken from this list.

In the novice singles short program the required jump for 1998/99 will be the double loop.  For 1999/00 it will be the double Lutz.  The spin combination may now include more than one change of position for these events.  The spin combination requirement will now be only one change of foot and at least one change of position, with a minimum of five revolutions on each foot.  In the novice ladies short program the required solo spin (camel, sit, layback or sideways leaning) may now be commenced with a jump.

In the novice pairs short program the required solo jump for the 1999/00 season will be the double Lutz.  The required death spiral for that season will be the backward outside death spiral.

In the novice and intermediate pairs short program a whistle shall be blown when the permitted time has elapsed and at that point the judges will cease judging the performance.

In the novice moves in the field test the secondary focus for moves 3a and 3b will now be power (instead of quickness).

In the junior moves in the field test the secondary focus for moves 3a and 3b will now be power (instead of quickness).

Narrative descriptions of the requirements and purposes for the moves in the field, free skating, and pairs test were all revised.

A series of Special Olympics test were created for skaters registered with the Special Olympics program.  These tests may be judges by one judge of the silver rank or higher.

Sports Medicine

USFSA skaters will not participate in any given ISU research program until details of the proposal and the protocol can be evaluated.  Decisions to participate will be made on a case by case basis.

New Business

If the ISU changes the dates of the World Junior Championships the U.S. World Junior Selection Competition will be eliminated.  Selection to the U.S. Junior World team will then be based on the results from the two most recent U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the most recent World Junior Championships, all other international events, the current International Committee ranking system placement, or other athletes who have demonstrated capabilities at the world junior level.  The International Committee will also be permitted to consider other extenuating circumstances.

The Executive Committee approved that the USFSA host the Snowflake International Precision Competition every other year, and authorized placing a bid for the 2001 competition.

The two USFSA Pro/Am competitions will now be referred to as Open competitions to eliminate confusion over the fact pro's and am's no longer exist.  Entrants in these competitions are not open, however, but are determined by ABC which holds the contract to televise these events.

The USFSA will submit bids to host the 2001 World Junior Championships and the 2003 World Championships.

USFSA members who have not executed and filed their annual Conflict of Interest and Ethical Behavior statement will be disqualified from serving on the USFSA Board of directors, USFSA committees, and from serving as a USFSA judge or official.

Clubs in the Princeton, NJ area were moved back into the North Atlantic region.

Fours were eliminated as a permitted event at U.S. Nationals.

The paying of judges to judges skating tests (beyond the reimbursement of reasonable expenses) is forbidden.  Any judge accepting payment will have their eligibility restricted.

Skater's weights will no longer be listed in the USFSA media guide.

Holding the trade show in the main arena will be reinstated at Nationals at the discretion of the LOC.

A new schedule was proposed for USFSA competitions and this was sent to the Competition Committee for study.  The proposal is that regionals be held in July, Sectionals in August, J/I Nationals in September, a Novice/Junior Nationals in October, and Senior Nationals as it is currently scheduled.  It was proposed this be put into effect for the 2002/03 season.

A motion that reinstatement requests include any previous names or maiden names was withdrawn before a vote.

The Adult Gold Dance test will now be known as the Championship Adult Dance Test.

Emblems will now be made available for moves in the filed tests as is already the case for other tests.

A proposal to divide the Intermediate division by age (at 15 years of age) and to create an open event in singles as per the case in pairs and dance was referred to the Competition Committee for study.

A motion to increase the maximum number of delegates permitted the large clubs was withdrawn as it referred to a bylaw change that could not be considered under new business.

A proposal to increase the minimum club size to 50 members for two years failed.   (The current number is 25.)

Figures will continue to be skated at the National Collegiate Championships and Adult Nationals.

A motion to continue the use of the name Junior Olympics for the Juvenile/Intermediate National Championships as long as it is permitted by the USOC failed.  The agreement with the USOC to use that name expires this year.  The USFSA Board of Directors had recommended the name be changed to the "United States Future Stars Figure Skating Championship", but the Governing Council voted that down as just too plain stupid.   The problem with continuing to use Junior Olympics is that the USOC would want to control sponsorship at that competition and that is something the USFSA is unwilling to give up.  Thus, J/I Nationals is in search of another new name.

A proposal to expand the USFSA web site to allow for individual club pages for member clubs failed.

In a highly unusual action, the Governing Council went on record recommending the USFSA's ISU delegation take certain specific stands on some of the proposals to be considered at the upcoming ISU congress.  The Governing Council recommended the US act as follows:

In addition Dance Committee chairman, Robert Horen, went on record stating that he felt the new dance proposals coming before the ISU are too much too soon.  Earlier in the meeting, he also stated he felt that the dance judges at the Winter Olympics did a disservice to US skaters.

Delegate Ann Gerli urged the US to vote in favor of proposals that would remove limits on the number of international judges permitted a country.  (This was not voted on as a resolution.)

The following additional actions were taken at the October 1997 meeting of the Board of Directors and were ratified by the Governing Council.


Return to Title Page