Skating Figures

Most rinks are currently closed due to COVID-19. You can still do figures on roller skates if you have access to a suitable space. For summer 2019 offerings, see the summer figures page.

Figures classes

This section lists only classes. Many coaches are willing and able to give private lessons. If you’re interested in that (or want to learn but can’t find a nearby class), ask around at your rink or contact the World Figure Sport Society for a referral to a Hall of Fame member in your area. If you are a coach and would like to be on a list of coaches available for private lessons that may eventually appear on this site, get in touch.

Eastern section

Midwestern section

Pacific coast section

Patch sessions

You can skate figures any time—look for relatively uncrowded freestyle or public skating sessions—but it’s nicer to skate them on patch sessions. These are times that are set aside specifically for practicing figures. The ice is divided into sections, called patches. Each skater gets one patch (or more if the session isn’t crowded). Skate around the side of the rink, as close to the wall as possible, to get to your patch. Note that in the UK, “patch” typically means freestyle—don’t get too excited about patch sessions on UK skating schedules.

Eastern section

Midwestern section

  • Nashville Skating Academy, Nashville, TN: Monday, 5:45-6:15 AM through May 23, 2020
  • OhioHealth Chiller Easton, Columbus, OH: Thursdays, 8:45-9:30 AM in Rink 2 until May, 2019; appears not to have resumed for fall 2019
  • Robert Crown Community Center, Evanston, IL: Monday, Thursday, and Friday, 6-7 AM (studio rink) through December 9, 2019 Figures sessions have been eliminated at Robert Crown with the opening of the new rink. If you are interested in seeing them reinstated, contact Bev Thurber.

Pacific coast section


Testing & Competing

When testing or competing figures, you can expect to skate your figure(s) on a sheet of clean ice while one or more people watch you. When you’ve finished, the judges walk on the ice examining your tracings carefully. The details of this process depend on the organization running the event, but they are all based on this general idea.

There are several skating organizations that offer figure tests and competitions in the US and internationally. Here are brief descriptions of them. A list of upcoming figure competitions is on the events page.

ISI (Ice Sports Industry, formerly Ice Skating Institute)

The ISI focuses on recreational skating and stresses participation and inclusion. Figure tests are available on demand. The ISI tests follow essentially the same structure as the USFSA tests, with the numbers incremented by one and a few figures moved up or down a level. For example, ISI Figure 4 is USFSA Third Test plus the back serpentines from second tests.

The ISI allows skaters to test figures one at a time, which means you can break the tests up into as many pieces as you like instead of having to test a whole bunch of figures all at once. This also means that if you fail one figure, you don’t fail the whole test. Your test is considered “incomplete” until you pass that figure, which you can do by itself. There’s no need to re-skate the figures you’ve passed to finish the test. You do have to pass all the figures in one level before moving on to the next, though. When the test is complete, your program manager registers it with the ISI and you get a cute patch.

Only one judge is necessary for ISI Figure tests 1–6. For 7–9, three judges are necessary, and five judges are required for 10, which consists of special figures. The judges are typically skating coaches who have passed an ISI judging exam. There are restrictions on when and where high-level tests can be taken, which may make them more difficult to schedule.

If you’d like to take ISI tests, talk with your program manager about setting them up. If your rink doesn’t have an ISI program, reach out to a nearby rink that does. They may be happy to accommodate you. The ISI has a list of participating rinks (which doesn’t seem to be working right now).

Some ISI competitions offer figure events (Figures, Creative Figures, and Free Figures).  They are common at ISI national competitions and sometimes appear in local ISI-endorsed competitions. If you want to skate them, but they’re not listed, ask the contact person to offer them. ISI competitions are pretty flexible, and they may be able to oblige you!

To compete, you must have passed the corresponding ISI figure test. USFSA tests do not count. Details of the events can be found in the ISI Handbook. The figures to be competed change annually and are announced on the competition information page. The figures for national competitions in 2019 and 2020 are in the chart below. Local competitions may make different figure selections.

Level2019 Figure2020 Figure
Figure 1Forward Outside Waltz EightForward Inside Eight
Figure 2Backward Outside EightForward Outside Three to Center
Figure 3Backward Inside EightRight Forward Outside Three
Figure 4Forward Outside LoopForward Inside Loop
Figure 5Left Forward Inside BracketBackward Outside Loop
Figure 6LFO Change LoopLFO One Foot Eight
Figure 7LFO Paragraph ThreeRFO Paragraph Three
Figure 8LFO RockerRFO Rocker
Figure 9LBO Paragraph Double ThreeRFO Paragraph Loop
Figure 10The FlowerLFO Rocker Double Three

Inclusive Skating

Figures and other types of skating are made accessible to skaters with challenges through events at the World Figure Championship and around the world.

US Figure Skating (aka USFSA)

USFSA figure tests were the standard for many years, and are still the most commonly discussed. They are still on the books and can be offered by request. You have to take all the figures in a test at once (except that the higher-level tests can be split in half; these splits are listed in the Rulebook as part A and part B). If you fail one figure, you have to re-take the whole test (or half test)—unless you got enough points on the other figures to bring your test up to passing overall.

The standard track tests are Preliminary and then numbered, First through Eighth. There is also a special track for adults (age 21 and up): Bronze, Silver, and Gold. If you’ve passed standard track tests, you can cross over into the adult tests following the new chart or simply pick up where you left off. If you’ve forgotten what level you reached, the USFSA can look up your test history, or you can search for your name the Skating archive on the members only site.

For the 2018–19 season, the USFSA revised the figures rules so that only one judge is required for a test at any level. This should make it easier to test, because there aren’t many figures judges left, especially at higher levels.

USFSA figure tests are not normally listed on test registration forms because they are uncommon, but this doesn’t mean you can’t take them. Talk with your club’s test chair about scheduling yours. Lake Placid Skating does explicitly offer figure tests by arrangement; see the test registration form for details.

Figures are rare at USFS-sanctioned competitions, but they do exist. The annual Sherwood Invitational offers figures events.

World Figure Sport Society

This organization runs the annual World Figure & Fancy Skating Championship & Festival as well as numerous workshops.

WFS exams differ from ISI and USFSA tests in that the figures do not have to be taken in any particular order. You can test any figure you like whenever you’re ready. Many special figures are available for examination; details are in the exam catalog (available with membership).

It’s impossible to fail WFS exams. Instead of being told you’ve passed or failed, you get a numerical score for each figure. The scores range from 1 to 6 and represent three levels of achievement: Encouraging (1–2), Competitive (3–4), and World Class (5–6). You can re-take an exam as many times as you like to earn the elusive 6—only one has been given as of this writing.

Exams and friendly competition are offered at the Figure Festival, during the workshops, and by arrangement in Lake Placid and a few other locations. If you are interested in taking an exam, contact the World Figure Sport Society to arrange it.

You can compete in the World Figure & Fancy Skating Championship or (if you’re under 21) in the World Junior Figure & Fancy Skating Championship. The figures for these events are selected and announced in advance. You can compete all the figures (16 for the Championship) or select individual figures. Less formal competition is offered at the Figure Festival and in the workshops scattered throughout the year.